Opinion: I saw the terrifying attack on Salman Rushdie, a man who lives with danger and wants to grow

A few minutes later, Rushdie and Henry Reese were walking across the stage, set to discuss The United States serves as a refuge for other writers and artists in exile as part of the Chautauqua Lecture Series. The audience rose and clapped. I realized that Rushdie would be sitting with his back to me, so I moved for a better view, starting down the middle aisle to an empty seat in the third row as soon as we both took their seats.

Before I took my possession, however, a man leaped onto the stage, vindictive on two legs, charging at Rushdie at lightning speed. The author gets up and steps back to hide from him, but his black suit and shiny shoes are unprepared for the youths in the trainer, the head wrapped like a ninja, a storm raging in the air. name.

Rushdie bent and turned to leave but the knife didn’t stop, arms raised and fell repeatedly, dodging the hands of the author and those who were trying to intervene. The crowd, gathered at a stage where civic speech has been practiced for more than 130 years, watched, frozen not with fear but with shock. After what seems like ages but I know seconds later, the assailant was knocked down by several men and a state trooper. Rushdie and Reese both fell. Pools of blood on the stage. A man ran past me, filming the chaos on his phone.

“These are not favorable days for freedom. If you look around the world, you will see that the idea of ​​freedom, freedom that contains a sense of carefreeness, seems everywhere to be retreating, hunted by guns and bombs,” Mr. Rushdie tell the audience at Emory University in 2015.
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Ironically, his assailant moved through tree-lined streets, where children ran free until poles from the bell tower reminded them that it was dinner time, where bicycles were not locked and wallets are usually returned in cash intact. This is a place where people let their guard down, just too easily. That’s part of the charm, but in the coming days we’ll certainly grapple with that.

The crowd was mostly silent, except for the creaking, some could not, no, still. The assailant was eventually subdued, and the police dog stood on top of him. I wonder if it’s spooky to take pictures of the stage at the moment. But the vampire was here, I decided. Rushdie lay still on his back; someone had taken his shoes off his feet and lined them up next to him, waiting for him to walk again. No one else can.

I couldn’t get back on my bike because of the vibration, so I walked home. Sirens lamented.

Around noon, The New York Times reported that Rushdie had stabbed in the neckwith another witness saying that he still have circuit before he was taken to the hospital. I was amazed and relieved that he survived. When Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran, made a plea for his death in 1989, the author has gone into hiding, but continues to write his complicated and bizarre books. He says he must write to survive, or his dreams become more and more insane. Waiting for the news, I wonder if the dream is crazier than this, more nightmarish than a fairy tale.

Texts poured in: “Are you there?” “Really?” A friend told me she attended a dinner with Rushdie in February, and remember him saying he was pretty sure someone, somewhere, would get him. . Who knew this could happen in this utopian summer community that tries to combat dissent in the world with conversation. Today there are no words that fit together.

Late in the afternoon, Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s agent, report he’s having surgery but no other update.
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“What is freedom of speech? Without the freedom to offend, it wouldn’t exist,” Rushdie said. In Manhattan, where he currently lives, he often appears in public without security. “Oh, I have to live my life,” he told an interviewer last year.

I began re-reading Rushdie’s writing, seeing the ways he sought to prove that our differences did not define us, a thread that runs through my work. In his words: “This could be the curse of humanity. It’s not that we’re different, it’s that we’re very similar.”

Remember the horror

“Are you Okay?” read text string. “Not really,” I replied. We met, hugged, walked the streets lined with new autumn leaves, recorded ambulance trips, videotaped crime scenes.

Everywhere we passed, people were gathering on porches, updating their phones, waiting to hear about Rushdie’s condition. It was a beautiful day, the sun, with its golden hue, almost falling, casting a long shadow. Like 9/11, we say. We will all remember where we were on this day.

Hours later, Rushdie was still undergoing surgery. The world waits. The attacker’s name is known. He bought a gate ticket to the campus of Chautauqua Academy.

I was there in a video posted on Twitter, standing before the attack in a striped shirt, on my phone. I remember calling 911. I didn’t know what else to do. I realize that I haven’t yet.

That night, his agent said he was out of surgery, but “the news is not good”. He’s on a ventilator. Nerves in his arm had been severed, his liver was stabbed and damaged. And he is likely to lose an eye. Is this really the civilized world? When I think about the horrors of this day, I think about living with this danger and choosing to grow. It’s a choice we all have to make right now. Pray – or whatever gesture you do to your god – to him. Pray for peace. Pray for all of us.

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