Terrorism wants to own and inhabit you, to hijack your day and haunt your night. Salman Rushdie has refused to be terrorized. Outside of his writing, this is the lesson of his life.

I was not surprised the great novelist was able to describe the attack on him on Aug. 12, 2022—as he was speaking about the U.S. as a safe place for exiled writers—with frame-by-frame specificity. Salman didn’t miss a detail as he recounted the crisis he had prepared for since 1989. What did surprise me was that he made me laugh. “Really?” he recalled thinking. “After 30 years? Amongst these most kindly, casually dressed readers in Chautauqua, New York?”

For me, rock ’n’ roll has always been about liberation. Salman’s continued creativity has become a different expression of that same liberation, a defiance and a determination not to be silenced. Of course there was anguish as he told me the story of the attack, but what was clear was that he would not bow. Freedom often loses but is never defeated.

Bono is the lead singer of U2 and a co-founder of ONE and (RED)

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