Today, I wanted to still be on theme and I searched for a way to represent my faith in the US Bill of Rights in the Constitution. These aren't great pictures, but they are photos of the cover of a book on the Constitution.
But the strangest thing happened! While I was photographing this, I was listening to NPR. And at the exact same time, there was an interview being conducted with a Retired Rear Admiral General talking about the current threat to our Bill of Rights! The Bill of Rights are the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution; in 1776 the contentious Founding Fathers feared that a national federal government would be too powerful. They insisted on a Bill of Rights to protect individual freedoms.
Since the signing of the US Patriot Act on October 26, 2001, John Ashcroft and the Bush administration have systematically dismantled many of these rights. The Constitution intended to protect such things as our freedom of speech, habeus corpus (the right to due process when accused), freedom from torture, among others. It's been said that since 2001, every single one of the 10 Bill of Rights has been diminished and threatened!
I have faith in our Constitution, but not our current administration!
I had another reminder of the important of these freedoms today. . . especially Freedom of Speech. As part of the 39th annual Writers Conference today at the University of North Dakota, Salman Rushdie gave a talk and a reading on campus.
Because it was a darkened auditorium, these photos are quite grainy. Salman Rushie is the author of Midnight's Children, and the controversial The Satanic Verses. You may remember that The Satanic Verses was considered sacrilegious by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini. The Ayatollah issued a fatwah against Rushdie in 1989.
For 9 years, Rushdie lived under the constant threat of death and attack, but was determined to continue to write and express himself. He did not set out to be a "political" writer, and thinks of his writing as "funny." But it became political, and he became much more acutely aware of freedom of expression.
Rushdie said that during the 9 year period of the fatwah, although he himself was never hurt, those around him were. The Japanese translator of his book was murdered; the French translator was stabbed and beaten; the Norwegian translator was shot 3 times and nearly died.
Last year, Rushdie was knighted by the Queen of England for his literature. After I finish typing this, I'm heading over to Amazon to order his book, Midnight's Children. I'm hoping that it will have as much humor in it that Rushdie had during his talk. It really was a treat to hear him; he seems like quite the character, even if he is officially a "Sir" now!