We got America back by electing Obama, says Rushdie

November 15th, 2008 - 12:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaToronto, Nov 15 (IANS) Barack Obama’s victory is a “profound and good intervention” by people to regain America and get control over their lives, says award winning author Salman Rushdie. The Indian-born author, who is in the Canadian city of Edmonton to participate in the Festival of Ideas organised by Alberta University to mark its 100th anniversary, Thursday said that by electing Obama, the Americans have “rediscovered that sense of being able to affect change and regain control of your life”.

“I mean, we can have stem-cell research now. We can have all kinds of things that crazy, god-bothered people won’t let you have,” said Rushdie, who vocally supported Obama.

“I came to live in New York in 1999, and what happened almost immediately was 9/11 and eight years of Bush. I thought, what happened to the country I came to live in, and could I please have America back? Last week we just got America back and it’s incredibly exciting,” he added.

Taking potshots at the American right-wing, he said the election of the Republicans (John McCain and Sarah Palin) once again to the White House would simply have been “unimaginable” for most Americans.

The author, who had called the choice of Palin for vice-president as a “colossal misjudgement” on the part of McCain, asked: “McCain drops dead on inauguration day and we have four years of President Palin?

“If I was an Alaskan wolf, I’d feel depressed because now she’s up there in a helicopter with a machine gun. All the wildlife in Alaska must be saying, ‘f**k!”

The winner of the Booker Prize for his controversial novel “The Satanic Verses” said organised religion always stifled one’s ability to contribute to make this world a better place.

In order “to grow up”, people need to move beyond religion, Rushdie said, referring to the Greek myth of the marriage of Cadmus and Harmony - the last event in which the gods take part before withdrawing from human life.

“The gods are there like our parents, taking care of us and trying to shape our lives. But there’s a certain point when we can’t be parented anymore and we have to take on for ourselves responsibility for our fate. I find this to be an attractive idea,” he said during the two-hour conversation with a Canadian radio host on literary affairs.

According to Rushdie, the gods were invented to answer “the two great questions of human existence: how did we get here, and now that we’re here, how should we live?”

About the current turmoil in Islam, he said the religion has failed to create a free society as fundamentalists refused to stray from the literal word of the Koran.

But “open societies constantly question the principles upon which they’re based and argue about those foundations. That’s what we call democracy - there is no answer to the argument, just the argument itself”, Rushdie said.

However, he said, he was hopeful for the future as even those who influenced the formation of Al Qaeda are now having second thoughts about their violent methods to achieve their ends.

He said his novel “The Satanic Verses” was targeted because it challenged “literalist” Islam, adding that he never needed approval from “Islamic lunatics”.

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