Salman Rushdie, on the other hand, is not a cultural relativist. He too talked to the New York Times, in his case about his new memoir about the fatwa years.
I found myself caught up in what you could call a world historical event. You could say it’s a great political and intellectual event of our time, even a moral event. Not the fatwa, but the battle against radical Islam, of which this was one skirmish. There have been arguments made even by liberal-minded people, which seem to me very dangerous, which are basically cultural relativist arguments: We’ve got to let them do this because it’s their culture. My view is no. Female circumcision — that’s a bad thing. Killing people because you don’t like their ideas — it’s a bad thing. We have to be able to have a sense of right and wrong which is not diluted by this kind of relativistic argument. And if we don’t we really have stopped living in a moral universe.
So no. We don’t have to respect Arab traditions even when they conflict with our values. We can say that some traditions are bad. We probably don’t want to embark on careers as diplomats if we do that, but otherwise – we can say.