Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I send to the desk a resolution condemning the threats against the author and publishers of the `Satanic Verses.' I do so for myself, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Dole, Mr. Pell, Mr. Helms, Mr. Sanford, Mr. Gorton, Mr. Graham, Mr. Simon, and Mr. D'Amato.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the resolution.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
A resolution (S. Res. 72) condemning the threats against the author and publishers of `Satanic Verses.'
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to the present consideration of the resolution.
There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the resolution.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, this matter was on the Senate floor last week, and only a long meeting of the Committee on Armed Services prevented our adopting it.
It states in the most emphatic terms that the United States absolutely rejects the intellectual terrorism practiced by the Ayatollah Khomeini. He has called for the assassination of a Moslem-born author residing in Britain. He has also called for attacks upon, vengeance upon, and violence to the publishers of `Satanic Verses,' Viking Penguin in New York.
Let it be understood in the parts of the world from whence such threats emanate: We are not initimidated and the resources of civilization against its enemies are not exhausted.
It is important to note that this resolution is sponsored by the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations and of course by our distinguished leaders, the majority leader and the Republican leader.
Mr. DOLE. Mr. President, I am pleased to join with the principal author, Senator Moynihan, with the distinguished majority leader, Senator Mitchell; with Senators Pell, Helms, Gorton, D'Amato and others--in cosponsoring this important resolution. I also want to note the contribution that Senator Wallop has made to the crafting of this resolution, and to the effort to get Senate action on this important subject.
We are not here as book critics. I haven't read the book in question, and I do not intend to. And we are not here to pass judgment on anyone's religious views. That is not the job of the Senate.
But it is not only the job, but the responsibility, of the Senate to say, loud and clear: There is an internationally recognized standard of civilized behavior; and it never includes levying international `death warrants,' without any due process or recognition of individual rights, on anyone--author, publisher, or anyone else.
And it is also our responsibility to reaffirm our four square, unequivocal opposition to terrorism in all its forms--whether it is the terrorism of an individual fanatic, like the Ayatollah Khomeini: of the terrorism of the state that he runs with an iron fist, and a heart of hate and intolerance; or the terrorism of a mob.
Terrorism is terrorism. It is abhorrent. It must be condemned. There is no justification for it, period.
That is the policy of this country, and of civilized countries everywhere. That is the essence of this resolution.
Let us underscore our continuing commitment to this policy, this strong and necessary policy, by passing this resolution. And let that act be encouragement to those who refuse to buckle under to the threats of terrorists, and a rebuke to the Khomeinis of the world, who care not a whit for anyone's rights or beliefs but their own.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I have also to inform the Senate of something we had thought would not happen in our State of New York. Early this morning the office of the Riverdale Press, a highly respected weekly newspaper in New York City, was fire bombed and all but destroyed.
This was done in the aftermath of an editorial published by that newspaper; a thoughful, moderate, but firm editorial defending the right to publish, to distribute and to sell. The editorial comment was entitled `The Tyrant and His Chains,' and begins, `How fragile civilization is; how easily, how merrily a book burns.'
Mr. President, as a statement of solidarity with the publishers of the Riverdale Press, I ask unanimous consent that this editorial be printed in the Record at this point.
There being no objection, the editorial was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
How fragile civilization is; how easily, how merrily a book burns,' wrote Salman Rushdie when a group of English Moslems publicly burned copies of his novel, `The Satanic Verses,' in West Yorkshire last month.
The powers of reason and imagination are indeed the underpinnings of our civilization. To suppress a book or punish an idea is to express contempt for the people who read the book or consider the idea. In preferring the logic of the executioner to the logic of debate, the bookburners and the Ayatollah Khomeini display their distrust for the principle on which self-government rests, the wisdom and virtue of ordinary people.
Americans are fighting back in the most appropriate way possible, by reading and talking about Mr. Rushdie's book. But the cowardly connivance of the big book chains with the Ayatollah is placing obstacles in the way of this counter-attack.
Waldenbooks, the nation's largest chain, began the retreat last Thursday when it removed the book from the shelves of its 1,200 stores. B. Dalton and Barnes & Noble dropped the book the next day, adding another 1,250 stores that won't carry it.
In Riverdale, we're fortunate to have an independent book seller. Readers, not fearful executives, had stripped Paperbacks Plus of `The Satanic Verses' by this weekend. The store has reordered the book and will continue to sell it.
In much of the country however, the big chains are the only game in town. They account for an estimated 20 to 30 percent of all book sales, and their power can make or break a title. Will Viking continue to order reprintings of `The Satanic Verses', if so will many stores refuse to sell it? If not, the chains will have helped win a victory for terrorism.
The chain store executives excuse their surrender to the Ayatollah by expressing concern for the wellbeing of their employees, but by knuckling under they've put others at risk. If a threat can knock the books from the shelves of the Big Three, terrorists may reason, think what a bomb in an uncompliant bookstore could do.
Moreover, terrorism feeds on its successes. What will Waldenbooks do when a homegrown would-be tyrant demands the removal of a politically controversial book from its shelves? And how will it handle the next step, a demand that stores stock a particular book?
The bookstore chains have enormous power. Their decisions can determine what thoughts are disseminated in what form. With that power should go responsibility. Selling books is not the same as selling socks or sundries. Book stores sell ideas and visions; they feed the mind and spirit. They have an obligation to safeguard the freedom of expression.
Independent book stores can't match the buying power of the chains, and therefore can't match their discounted prices. Their proprietors like to say that what they offer to readers who pay full price for their books is service. To that, they can now add something more important: the small additional cost is the price of freedom.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I do not wish to delay the Senate. This is a matter which has been thoroughly agreed to and I think that it would receive the unanimous support of the body.
I do not observe a representative of the Republican leader on the floor at this point. We have concluded our business for the day.
And knowing that, he is a cosponsor, a principal cosponsor, in the circumstances I would ask whether I might move to have both sides yield back their time under the rule.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator can certainly do that by consent.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. I do ask unanimous consent that both sides yield back their time under the rule.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. In that case, Mr. President, I move adoption of the sense-of-the-Senate resolution.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the resolution.
The resolution (S. Res. 72) was agreed to.
The preamble was agreed to.
The resolution, with its preamble, reads as follows:
Whereas, on February 14, 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of the Islamic Republic of Iran called for the assassination of Salman Rushdie, author of `Satanic Verses,' and of the officers of Viking, the U.S. publisher of the book;
Whereas, Viking officers have received death threats since the publication of the book, and Viking offices have been evacuated several times following bomb threats;
Whereas on February 21, 1989, President George Bush condemned Iran's threat against Mr. Rushdie and his publisher as `deeply offensive to the norms of civilized behavior': Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate, That in recognition of threats of violence made against the above mentioned author and publisher, the Senate--
(1) declares its commitment to protect the right of any person to write, publish, sell, buy, and read books without fear of intimidation and violence;
(2) unequivocally condemns as state-sponsored terrorism, the threat of the government of Iran and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to assassinate citizens of other countries on foreign soil;
(3) expresses its support for the publishers and booksellers who have courageously printed, distributed, sold, and displayed `Satanic Verses' despite the threats they have received;
(4) applauds President Bush for his strongly worded statement of outrage against the Iranian government's actions and calls upon the President to continue to condemn publicly any and all threat's made against the author and his publishers;
(5) commends the European Community member states for withdrawing their diplomatic corps from Iran in response to the Ayatollah's death sentences;
(6) recognizes the sensitivity of religious beliefs and practices, respects all religions and the commitment of the religious to their faith, and repudiates religious intolerance and bigotry, and
(7) calls upon the President of the United States to take swift and proportionate action in consultation, as appropriate, with other interested governments, in the event that violent acts should occur.
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I thank the Chair for its great courtesy. I hope that the Nation and the world will take note that the Senate has spoken.
I say once again that this would have occurred last week save for a certain inadvertence in a committee schedule.
Mr. President, I see no one else seeking the floor, and I accordingly suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. HUMPHREY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.