Salman Rushdie has spent most of his adult life as a marked man. The recent heinous assault he endured was decades in the making. His enemies have been scheming plots to assassinate him since Khomenie’s fatwa in 1988. The passage of time had lulled Rushdie with a false sense of security. Not wanting to live indefinitely poised in seclusion, or with an extensive security detail, he ventured forth into the world with minimal precautions. Although numerous attempts on his life had been thwarted, the possibility of a lone actor or ’sleeper cell’ always lurked on the periphery of intelligence gathering. And he ultimately fell victim to precisely this sort of rogue attack.
Rushdie was targeted because he is a champion of the enlightenment notions of free speech and intellectual inquiry. As such, the repugnant attack can best be construed as an affront to the values which civilized society treasures most. Virtually all other human rights hinge upon the protection of free speech. In this way, Rushdie’s attempted murder is a grievous assault against all civilized people. Thus, this threat should be countered accordingly with the full extent of the rule of law. This may entail a blanket ban on travel to the US. To prohibit citizens of certain hostile nations from traveling to the US is not necessarily an undue burden on democratic principles. A balancing test must be adopted, that weighs the threat of terrorism against the discriminatory repercussions of such a policy. The Supreme Court has addressed such measures during the Trump administration. The Court held that an executive order to this effect (that restricted travel from seven hostile countries) did not violate the constitution.
It is readily apparent that the common nucleus of operative fact linking a string of terror plots ranging from the attempted murder of Rushdie, plans to kill US officials such as Mike Pompeo and John Bolton and a whole host of terror attacks (like that in San Bernardino which killed a large group of US citizens) is of course radical Islamic terrorism. The same as must be said regarding the Boston Marathon bombers. Iran has been at the helm of recent criminal conspiracies. Rather than penalizing Iran for its nefarious conduct, President Obama rewarded the Islamic Republic by unfreezing funds that were withheld to punish its sponsorship of terrorism. The pro Iranian Obama policies are now being perpetuated via Susan Rice in the Biden Administration.
It would be a good start to resort back to the Trump era travel bans that were partially successful in preventing Islamic terrorism. Iran in particular should be held accountable for its encouragement and outright support of attacks against US citizens, as was the case in the Trump Administration killing of Qasem Soleimani. The brutal assault on Rushdie should serve as a 'Sparticus moment' for solidarity with this brave author.