I can’t imagine what more could be said about the horrible attack 12 August 2022 on Salman Rushdie. So many brilliant writers and public intellectuals have spoken of the author’s bravery and support of freedom of expression. This was the topic Rushdie planned to speak about at the Chautauqua event. So, may I thank you, Salman Rushdie?
Obviously, even though all has been said, it is impossible to be silent and say nothing. Not only did I buy my copy of Satanic Verses after I heard about the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salmon Rushdie, but on each occasion when I hear of threats to his life, I revisit his book. Khomeini’s threat failed to silence Rushdie or prevent his work from being read and studied. This latest attack was a senseless act of vengeance. Efforts to censor or silence people nearly always have the exact opposite effect. However, this perpetrator is not important.
Those who are important are all the individuals and institutions who have spoken in support of Salmon Rushdie and freedom of expression. He has become an even greater symbol of the importance of words and ideas in a time when so many forces see some protection in suppressing speech. Thanks to the writers, speakers, novelists, scientists, journalists, bloggers, film makers, broadcasters, translators, cartoonists, activists, civic leaders, politicians, comedians, and all who try to peacefully convey their thoughts and ideas to the public. You are heroic. Your ideas are generative and behind nearly all the advances our societies accomplish.
Bad ideas lose in the light of good ideas, but we need opportunities like a Chautauqua or one of the many other large or small forums to test ideas and generate better ones. So, in addition to the communicators, thanks as well to those who try to organise civic minded events and put together the publications that enable controversial and even dangerous ideas to be aired.
On 24 August 2022, The Guardian (p. 17) reported that “Satanic Verses sales surge in UK following knife attack on Rushdie.” Efforts to censor generally have the opposite impact.
Salmon Rushie’s website is at: https://www.salmanrushdie.com/