Quote by Christopher Hitchens

When the telephoned me at home on Valentine's Day 1989 to ask my opinion about the Ayatollah Khomeini's , I felt at once that here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying, and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual, and the defense of free expression. Plus, of course, friendship though I like to think that my reaction would have been the same if I hadn't known Salman at all. To re-state the premise of the argument again: the theocratic head of a foreign despotism offers money in his own name in order to suborn the murder of a civilian citizen of another country, for the offense of writing a work of fiction. No more root-and-branch challenge to the values of the Enlightenment (on the bicentennial of the fall of the Bastille) or to the First Amendment to the Constitution, could be imagined. President George H.W. Bush, when asked to comment, could only say grudgingly that, as far as he could see, no American interests were involved

When the telephoned me at home on Valentine's Day 1989 to as


This quote, attributed to Christopher Hitchens, reflects his reaction when he was asked about his opinion on the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing a controversial book. Hitchens sees the situation as a clash between everything he detests (dictatorship, religion, censorship) and everything he values (literature, individualism, free expression). He emphasizes the severity of the situation, where a theocratic leader of a foreign country attempts to assassinate a citizen in another nation simply for writing a work of fiction. Hitchens suggests that this act directly challenges Enlightenment values and the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and criticizes George H.W. Bush for not strongly condemning the attack.

By Christopher Hitchens
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