When Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchens knew what it meant: "This was not just a warning of what was to come,” he writes in Vanity Fair, “it was the warning.” A global culture war, between Muslim fundamentalists and everyone else, had begun. Now Khomeini is dead, but the war persists, aided by the West, which self-censors itself in terror.
There was the Danish cartoon incident, when US news sources refused to reprint the images. Random House dumped a novel about Muhammad’s wife after a single letter of complaint. Terrified of “offending” Muslims, the West is capitulating to fundamentalists and assuming that “the inciters of goons are the authentic representatives of Muslim opinion.” Asks Hitchens: “What could be more ‘offensive’ than that?”