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Salman and Padma

“Let’s be clear about why this bien-pensant anti-American onslaught is such appalling rubbish. Terrorism is the murder of the innocent; this time, it was mass murder. To excuse such an atrocity by blaming US government policies is to deny the basic idea of all morality: that individuals are responsible for their actions.

The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women’s rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex.

The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his world-view, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences. To prove him wrong, we must first know that he is wrong. We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love. These will be our weapons. Not by making war, but by the unafraid way we choose to live shall we defeat them.

How to defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorised. Don’t let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.”

Salman Rushdie

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From Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 by Salman Rushdie

Rushdie is speaking about his new book Joseph Anton: A Memoirtonight at George Washington University. If you live in Washington, DC, get a ticket.

The photo is of Rushdie and his former wife, Indian-American model Padma Lakshmi. Kissing in public places, indeed.