Friday, April 22, 2011

My government tells me about James M. Markham

Today, I was browsing through the articles on Salman Rushdie when I discovered this article entitled “Fallout Over Rushdie.” The New York Times published that article on August 10, 1989. The article was written by James M. Markham, the former bureau chief for the Times in Paris.

The article was fairly critical of the way Europe had treated its Muslims. According to Markham, Muslim immigrants lived at the “bottom of the economic order” in Europe. They often had to endure “prejudice and discrimination.”

“Even at the best of times, the relations between native Western Europeans and the roughly six million Muslims who live in their midst are difficult,” said Markham.

And then The Satanic Verses came along. That book, written by Salman Rushdie, caused a huge uproar, at least amongst certain Muslims in Europe. Some of them burned the book and threatened to kill Rushdie. But Markham had an interesting take on the story. According to him, the French television networks covered the protests in an unfair and biased manner.

“With close-up camera work, the smallish crowd suddenly seemed to represent a fanatic Islamic fifth column that had surfaced in France just as it is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its republican, anticlerical revolution,” said Markham. “The footage was shown again and again for several days.”

Of course, this made the moderate French Muslims angry.

“Even my most secular Muslim students feel attacked by the way Islam has been represented,” said Bruno Etienne, a French academic. “It would have been much easier to show the many French Muslims who favor the separation of church and state.”

But presumably, the media coverage had its desired effect, as the book burnings “antagonized” the white Europeans. Conservatives in both France and Germany used the book burnings to argue that immigrants were criminals. Jacques Chirac, then the mayor of Paris, said that France should expel any foreigner who threatened to kill Salman Rushdie.

In fact, though not saying it explicitly, Markham implied that the whole protest was nothing more than political theater. He noted that the protests against the Satanic Verses began in Britain, not Iran, which implied that Britain started the protest movement for their own reasons, presumably, to demonize Muslims. And, of course, many Muslims knew this and, according to Markham, that exacerbated the situation.

In INDB, I wrote the following in the notes for this article.1
YAPPARI!!! THIS WHOLE BUNCH OF CRAP WAS POLITICAL THEATER ORCHESTRATED BY BRITAIN!!! THIS WILL NOT STAND!!! AND IT CANNOT BE A COINCIDENCE THAT JAMES M. MARKHAM DIED OF A QUOTE UNQUOTE SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND IN PARIS A HALF YEAR LATER!!! THE EUROPEANS APPARENTLY DO NOT LIKE JOURNALISTS TO TELL THE UGLY AWFUL TRUTH ABOUT EUROPE!!! THIS IS BULLSHIT!!! THIS WILL NOT STAND!!!
As the comment suggests, on August 9, Markham died in Paris. The day after he died, the New York Times published his obituary. The Times said Markham died in Paris, “apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” The Times went on to say that Markham died only a month before he was scheduled to leave France and take up a new job at the Times in New York. The police did not find a suicide note. In INDB, I wrote the following in the notes for this article.1
THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT THAT THIS WAS AN ASSASSINATION CONDUCTED BY THE EUROPEANS FOR HIS UNFAVORABLE REPORTING OF EUROPE!!! THEY HAD TO WACK HIM BEFORE HE COULD RETURN TO AMERICA!!! THIS IS BULLSHIT!!! THIS WILL NOT STAND!!!



1 I edited both comments slightly. The original comments, I fear, might draw the wrath of the Google censors. As a side note, later on, my government “told” me that they made me write the sentence “THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!” in both comments to signify to the Europeans that both the comments I wrote were bullshit. However, I think my government really does believe that the Europeans killed Markham. I think my government just had me write those sentences in an effort to placate the Europeans.

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