On Monday, Salman Rushdie headed to Pennsylvania for a speaking engagement at Widener University, located outside Philadelphia in the suburb of Chester.
The town of Chester decided to act with prudence when they found out Rushdie would be visiting. So they swarmed the Widener campus with police SWAT teams and K-9 units. As a matter of fact, they even forced a police escort on Rushdie at a Philadelphia train station.
Rushdie, who frequently travels the New York subways unescorted and is a bit of a man about town in these post-fatwa days, was terrified and said:
“It’s insane! [...] I was absolutely horrified. Assault rifles, tracker dogs – they scare me!”
Hmm. Maybe the Chester police department just wanted to protect Rushdie from Padma Lakshmi and the risk that his ex-wife would have had been in posession of her (alleged) favorite herb.
However, the most depressing part of this story is that Chester is one of the most crime-ridden municipalities in America. The police resources deployed to “protect” Rushdie could have been put to much better use elsewhere… It’s too bad for the good people of Chester that few of them happen to be famous writers — then maybe they could actually put a dent in the crime rate.
(Image via Southbank Centre)