Sarah Waheed in the Asian American Writers' Workshop:
This past April, in an op-ed for the New York Times, Salman Rushdie pondered over the ways in which public respect for moral courage has diminished, noting how strange it is that we have become increasingly “suspicious of those who take a stand against the abuses of power or dogma.” Rushdie provided several examples of moral courage, ranging from South African activist Nelson Mandela, to Saudi poet Hamza Kashgari, to the Russian band Pussy Riot. The one that caught my eye was the late cultural critic and scholar of comparative literature, Edward Said (1935-2003). Rushdie, in the op-ed, described Said as an “out of step intellectual,” noting that he was “dismissed, absurdly, as an apologist for Palestinian terrorism.” Said had been one of Rushdie’s greatest admirers, and was particularly enamored of the way Rushdie wove the complexity of cultural differences into his early literature, essays and critiques. One wonders what route the friendship between Said and Rushdie would have taken, since such complexity no longer informs Rushdie’s political stances.