The Islamic Republic of Iran has been engaging in a bit of damage control since the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, affectionately known as “The Butcher of Baghdad,” is set to come to New York to address the United Nations, and the Iranians don’t want to make the possibility that Old Joe Biden’s ultra-woke handlers would ban him from entering the country any less remote than it is now. And so Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Monday: “We categorically deny” any connection to the attack. “No one has the right to accuse the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
This being Iran, however, damage control is not always as smooth as we’re used to in the West. On Thursday, Iran’s state-controlled Press TV featured an American professor who said that the stabbing attack on Rushdie was the fault of…the Jews. The Press TV article was entitled “Rushdie attack might be Israeli plot to spread Islamophobia: Scholar.” Of course! Why didn’t anyone think of that before?
Press TV’s scholar was Kevin Barrett, whom it described variously as “an American writer and political analyst” and “an American author, journalist, and radio host.” Whatever else Barrett may be, he is a conspiracy-minded man who believes that he has been a victim of one himself. The bio he supplied to Amazon.com states that “From 1991 through 2006 Dr. Barrett taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris and Wisconsin.” But then he fell victim to the wicked conservatives: “In summer 2006 Dr. Barrett was attacked by a group of Republican state legislators who called for him to be fired from his job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison due to his political opinions. Since 2007 Dr. Barrett has been informally blacklisted from teaching in American colleges and universities.”
Yeah, sure, because we all know how much American colleges and universities hate harsh critics of the U.S. government, and that Kevin Barrett certainly is. He is the author of, among other classics, a book entitled Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie. A convert to Islam, he is also no fan of the freedom of speech; one of his other books is We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo!
In all that, Barrett sounds like a fairly typical far-Left academic, but on Press TV Thursday, he dived happily off the deep end, saying: “The obscene blasphemy in Rushdie’s book is actually much worse than just calling the Prophet (PBUH) insulting names. It is way over the top, and raises the question, why did he write such a book?” For nefarious self-aggrandizing reasons, of course: “Several decades ago, I read three of Rushdie’s novels as part of my graduate studies in World Literature. My impression was that he wrote The Satanic Verses as a deliberate provocation designed to get exactly the kind of attention it got… Why? Because he is an extreme egotist with boundless ambition but without the talent to match it; he wanted more fame than his writing alone would ever earn him.”
Rushdie, Barrett claimed, “deliberately courted the notoriety that ensued from the publication of The Satanic Verses. He invented himself as a character—the obscenely blaspheming author held up as a symbol of Western-style freedom, hunted and forced to live on the run, vastly more famous than thousands of much better writers, a kind of real-life cartoon character in the West’s comic book narrative of free speech (us) versus its enemies (them).” But his act was tired: “As time has passed, Rushdie’s one-note act has gradually faded from public view. So though I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear he been attacked in, say, the mid-1990s, it seems rather incongruous in 2022.” So why now?
The answer to that question, Barrett said, was that the Israelis were using Rushdie to cover for their own evils: “His case had been largely forgotten since the peak of his notoriety forty years ago. Suddenly, at the exact moment that the JCPOA nuclear deal was about to be revived, this incident generated worldwide headlines and threw a new roadblock in the path of the deal. And it happened just days after reports of an alleged Iranian plot against John Bolton. If we ask cui bono, ‘who gains,’ the answer is thunderingly obvious. Israel has made no secret of the fact that it views the JCPOA as an existential threat. The Israelis have done everything they can to derail the JCPOA.” And, he added, “they have a long history of using false flag terror to achieve political goals,” as well “a history of using mind-controlled patsies in their targeted killings.”
If anyone knows about mind-controlled patsies, it’s Kevin Barrett. Ultimately, Nasser Kanaani had a less outlandish and more direct explanation for the Rushdie stabbing: “In this attack, we do not consider anyone other than Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation. By insulting the sacred matters of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than one and a half billion Muslims and all followers of the divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the anger and rage of the people.” Message: adhere to Sharia blasphemy laws, or else. Kevin Barrett, author of We Are NOT Charlie Hebdo!, would likely agree.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 25 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.