As attacks go, one more stabbing would have seemed routine for America. But this one got headlines and horrified reactions across the world, for the victim was renowned author Salman Rushdie. The prognosis is that he will survive, but remain severely injured.
There’s irony in the timing. For years Rushdie had lived in hiding under British protection because of the famous execution decree (fatwa) placed on him. His book “The Satanic Verses,” was considered blasphemous to Prophet Muhammad. But Rushdie, who moved to the United States six years ago, no longer hides. He lives openly in New York where he also teaches. His life seemed “almost normal,” he declared.
But what’s “normal” these days? Newspapers and TV have no shortage of stories about violence. Rushdie is one more statistic. Of course he’s more than that. He’s a writer who insists on saying what he believes. He was in the Chautauqua Institute that fatal night to speak on behalf of exiled writers. Today writers are shocked and grieving as it’s one of our”family” who was brutally knifed.
The fact that the attack happened in an auditorium where an audience peacefully gathered has shaken all of us. But the setting could be – and often is – a neighborhood grocery store (Buffalo), a nightclub (Florida), a school or house of worship (too many to list).The reality is that there’s no hiding place.
As poet George Northrup wrote, the next casualty might be “the person sitting next to you…. the friend you waved to…even yourself.” No wonder so many of us are fearful and anxiety-ridden. President Biden spoke of Rushdie’s “courage and resilience.” In this perilous world, those qualities may enable us to do our work and continue to live as hopefully as possible. For fear could destroy us as surely as any perpetrator.
Hosansky’s latest book is “COME ÅAND GO.”