Salman Rushdie | Interview | TimesTalks


mmm but them into this ambiguity that you talked
about on you mentioned in your memoir about a
some very critical words for cultural relativism well the question is whether there are
universal values when I think that’s that’s the question you know and whether there are such things as universal rights with whether there are
things which are absolutely right absolutely wrong you know it at the time that the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up um people believe you know that that’s
what that declaration is it says that that we have so rights what’s happened
in our time in the last twenty twenty-five years is a attack on that idea the idea of the
universality of Rights a up from usually from parts of the
world where they want people not to have many roads at all a and the idea that that the idea of
human rights is a is a western idea and a different
cultures have different priorities and freedom is not one of them feel great though and
so that so that if you look at you card judge
the argument is the way in which things happen in that
say the Islamic world or trailer because their cultural parameters a
different no rate that side that’s the slippery slope
seeking because I think if you look at the
Society’s when the when their citizens are given any kind
of a chance 10 such as the green movement in Iran such
as the thus decidedly unsuccessful its
movements in the Arab Spring or try to all these people say the same
thing no they all want the freedoms that they
are deprived of so that’s what I’ve been talking about
we have to really higher on to this idea in of
universal human rights no because to abandon that is a
dangerous thing I remember back during the apartheid era
in South Africa nadine gordimer read the piece I think
it was for the New York Review of Books where she was saying that they were some
writer is who saw this distinction between right or fight but then by an Act love the government their writing became
fight you know that the politics was kinda imposed on it
know that happen to you as well in a sense you you’ve said that
the Satanic Verses was in fact the least political editor three books
at the time but yet right but but yet maybe I was wrong great well obviously some people thought
you were so you know who decide who gets to
decide when something is political and when the artist has to
engage that well unfortunately as you say it’s often imposed on the work you know I want this is great the great
famous line have no I’m gonna from from the book laughter and forgetting
were where he says the struggle man against power is the
struggle with memory against forgetting that often happens to artists were
simply the active remembering saying this is how it was a runs up against official truth people
who don’t wish it to be known that that’s how it works a and so the the artist simply by committee by expressing an active memory
you know finds himself politicized because there
are other versions of the truth that wish to impose themselves from and I found that from your long before
the Satanic Verses you know when when I when I was writing midnight’s children
knows what what are the passages in the book deals with atrocities committed by the Pakistan
Army during the 1971 war for the independence
among other ish where they were syriza what we would
clearly now understands the genocidal acts but who carried out in in in in Dakar
the capital public and this was very well attested the time you know though they were there
was photographic evidence that was my witness evidence there was the there was every kind of evidence and
yet the official truth about son was at that never happened and that
anybody who said so was simply anti-pakistan one a and so the game they’re just simply the
active saying here’s how it was became politicized because the official
truth was it at odds with her so oh there’s been a lot of focus ever
since whether it’s in China or the Arab Spring
about the role love a the internet and social media in terms
of on its its role in you know freedom or demonstrations but is there just is Aaron equal possibility for the
enemies of freedom to use it as effectively as a propaganda tool I’m not sure not
sure it equally but I think it’s I think it’s there is a possibility yes I would
I think the we have to c the Internet has been
morally neutral with your internet as a tool know you
can you you can use the tax to cut down a
tree or two you know put someone’s head off from a its it’s a I think it’s on the whole the beneficial but I think there’s no
question that it makes it the makes it much harder for
ideas to be suppressed room arm and I was quoting this morning
in the meeting we had about this this weather unusually eloquent remark
made by Iranian Ayatollah a few years ago which
was he was the man given the task of censoring the
internet in Iran and he kept trying to close down
web sites and did not 20 war with sprig operator
and eventually he said it’s like removing a
ladder to stop birds from sitting on the roof her which which I thought was a good
will unusually precise very poetic yes
exactly and I think that’s true but the internet that you couldn’t it you can find it if you want though
it’s out there somewhere and I think even in China now where
there’s really you this fifty thousand people given the task of censoring the internet
I know its mind about its astonishing you can’t get facebook in China a
twitter is very difficult to get access to on and you know their own social network is very heavily monitored and
censored but yet the people in China Sea we finding
more and more ways of getting around that even had the so-called Great Firewall
you know way exactly that China has bill people get rounded round because you
were france is one of the methods by which the firewall is activated is if you use
certain kinds of names if you use the names a well-known dissident so whatever immediately that triggers you know a
thing which bans that particular Communication Server people use things
like deliberate misspelling right exactly so
that the algorithm doesn’t work movement people do manage to get through
that so I think on the whole it’s beneficial when 18 E connect something that you talk about a again in your memoir in terms i love
crew controls the story of China a you know china has
been critical and Japan for not being
truthful about the history of the war and yet they are too from the kindergarten is he
was saying a people they are denied their own
history and you talk about in your book about um you know cool these we have these grand narratives
nation a religion in a family and who controls I think that’s what the
whole argument is about this whole subject of Liberty the whole subject to free
expression it boils down to that hookah who has the
right to tell the story you know and and in a free society or
what what are the definitions if you like bob a free society is that we all have the right you know
we can tell the story of our our family OVR national history about culture of faith in any way we
choose week we could tell that reverential E or
satiric Lee week we can we could be tell it well or
badly you know we’re not punished for for doing either
of those things we all tell ourselves the stories about
some you know and and there’s no argument about the story
you in any society including this one we see how divided the slightly this is mmm you know there’s a there’s a very
serious arguments about the nature of America what’s going
on in america but the ability to have the argument is
something which you could call freedom right and the moment you get two
societies like tryna a in which authoritarian regimes wish to impose themselves the first
thing they do is to shut down the ability to dispute
the narrative you know and that’s why there so
unusually interested in artists and writers because those are the people who dispute
the narrative from and writers and artists have no armies
got no weapons mmm um but they have this they have the
ability to challenge the official narrative that’s where the conflict of interest from them it

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