The recent protests across the Arab world in response to an anti-Muslim film are yet another product of the “outrage industry,” author Salman Rushdie said in an exclusive interview with Lawrence O’Donnell on Tuesday's The Last Word.
“There are people in Islamic world whose job it is literally to find a flashpoint and use them to launch a larger attack against American values,” Rushdie said.
This latest outrage is not dissimilar to the fatwa that was declared on Rushdie after the publication of The Satanic Verses 23 years ago. Rushdie's new book, the memoir Joseph Anton, documents the decade he spent in hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini declared the fatwa.
Often, people in this so-called “outrage industry” don’t read or view the media they condemn, Rushdie said. In the case of the video that sparked the recent protests, “it got translated into Arabic and sent to these people. It just played into their hands and they used it.”
Regarding the controversy that surrounded The Satanic Verses, “it’s quite clear that the Ayatolla Khomeni didn’t read a 600-page book in English on his deathbed,” before issuing the fatwa, Rushdie said.
Indeed, on Monday's The Last Word, Ayaan Hirsi Ali—author of a recent controversial Newsweek piece—discussed the rage that lead her to burn that same book without having ever read it.
“I understood one thing, and that was anyone who offended or said anything insulting about the Prophet Mohammed should die," she said. "I did that unthinkingly, and I think the huge mobs we’re seeing are doing that unthinkingly, but that does not excuse the individual responsibilities once they leave the company of the crowd.”