Salman Rushdie: We live in a “culture of offendedness”

According to the novelist, the rise of religious fanaticism has given way to hatred

Topics: Salman Rushdie, Religion, The Satanic Verses, Novels, Writing, Books,

Award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie, who lived under a fatwa for a decade after the publication of “The Satanic Verses” in 1988, says that we live in a culture where it’s too easy to hate.

Speaking to a crowd at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Tuesday, he said,”I do think that one of the characteristics of our age is the growth of this culture of offendedness. It has to do with the rise of identity politics, where you’re invited to define your identity quite narrowly – you know, Western, Islamic, whatever it might be.”

According to Rushdie, this wasn’t always the case: “Classically, we have defined ourselves by the things we love. By the place which is our home, by our family, by our friends. But in this age we’re asked to define ourselves by hate. That what defines you is what pisses you off. And if nothing pisses you off, who are you?

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The Independent reports that Rushdie attributes a culture of hatred “to the fall of Communism and the rise of religious fanaticism, among other things.”

“Instead of there being one Iron Curtain,” he said, “there became lots and lots of little enclaves with people fighting to the death about their own little mindset or their own tribalism. And then religious fanaticism happened, which is not only Islamic. In India, there is the rise of Hindu nationalism, and in America the increased power of the Christian church.”

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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