Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nick Cohen on notes delivered with daggers

Nick Cohen is posting some of his old columns. This one from last year describes the Index on Censorship's transformation from universal liberalism into a human-rights travesty today.
It was founded by Stephen Spender in the early 1970s to fight for the right of Soviet dissidents to speak freely. Vaclav Havel, Nadine Gordimer, Salman Rushdie, Doris Lessing, Arthur Miller, Aung San Suu Kyi and many another clear and strong voice used its pages to denounce the suppression of opinion wherever it occurred. Yet when it contemplated the warm corpse of a film-maker [Theo Van Gogh] who had been ritually slaughtered for dramatising violence against Muslim women, its instinctive reaction was so hateful it still has the power to shock six weeks on.
And further on about Van Gogh's colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali,
What was most telling was Index’s treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who worked with van Gogh on the film. I can remember when she would have been a liberal heroine. Ali is a Somali, who was circumcised at five - if you want the gory details of what female circumcision involves, by the way, I’m afraid you’re going to have to look them up. She fled from an arranged marriage at 22. She overcame enormous handicaps to become a Dutch MP and, as free men and women are entitled to do, decided she didn’t believe in God. Needless to add her secularism made her dangerous enemies, and the police had to protect her from Islamists. Their guard was increased when the killer stuck a five-page letter addressed to her to van Gogh’s body with a dagger.

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