When Iran's then-Supreme Leader issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, Western intellectuals rallied to his cause.

Speaking to an interviewer from L'Express, Sir Salman says that he would not receive such support today. He blamed political correctness . . .  and fear:

The British author, in an interview published on Wednesday (July 22) by the French news magazine L'Express, said his ordeal by religious fanatics determined to violently avenge what they construed as blasphemy should have served as a wake-up call to the world.

Instead, after the Sept 11, 2001 attack on America and the massacre in Paris in January this year of cartoonists and staff at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, and with the ongoing rampage of the brutal Islamic State group in the Middle East, Rushdie said some writers and other people were too cowed to talk freely about Islam.

"It seems we learned the wrong lessons," he said in the interview printed in French. "Instead of concluding we need to oppose these attacks on freedom of expression, we believed we should calm them through compromises and ceding." The "politically correct" positions voiced by some – including a few prominent authors who disagreed with Charlie Hebdo receiving a freedom of speech award at a PEN literary gala in New York in May – were motivated by fear, Rushdie said.

"If people weren't being killed right now, if bombs and Kalashnikovs weren't speaking today, the debate would be very different. Fear is being disguised as respect," he said.

Rushdie has hit on one of the horrendous features of our world: terror works. It terrorizes. People hush out of fear. Of course, intellectuals don't admit they are cowards. They find ways to dress up their fear as something else to maintain the illusion that intellectuals are special.

On the Charlie Hebdo front, there has been a development:  Remember when everybody was all like "Je suis Charlie Hebdo" after Islamic terrorists killed 12 members of the Paris satire magazine's staff because of cartoons of Mohammad? Well, now Charlie Hebdo n'est pas Charlie Hebdo:

Six months after armed Islamists stormed Charlie Hebdo’s offices in downtown Paris, killing 12, editor Laurent Sourisseau said the publication would no longer draw Islam’s prophet in an interview with German magazine Stern.

“We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to,” Sourisseau told Stern, as reported by Deutsche Welle. “We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature.”

Sourisseau survived the attack at Charlie Hebdo’s offices by playing dead, according to Deutsche Welle. During the Stern interview, Sourisseau recounted the assault, saying the room went silent after the attack, and that’s how he knew almost everyone was dead

I certainly don't blame Mr. Sourisseau and do not want to be critical of the man for this. After all, I've never had to play dead to avoid being made really dead  by Islamic terrorists. But let's not mince words: the terrorists won this one. They made the point that one can't draw whatever one wants to draw.

Having suffered grave losses, Mr. Sourisseau can't be faulted for trying to dress up his surrender with a bit of bluster: We've done our job. We've defended the right to caricature. But other intellectuals must take that painful first step: Quit pretending and admit you're scared. We can go from there.