In New York, Friday 19 August, a week after the attack, intellectuals gathered on the steps of the New York Public Library to give public readings of Salman Rushdie’s work to show solidarity, but also because they were concerned about the ongoing process. Paul Auster intervened and said: “We have the right to stand up and speak. This is valuable. And now that our freedoms are under attack it is very important to make ourselves heard, in a doubly loud voice to fiercely defend our democracy”.
For a strange echo effect, it reminds me of Giacomo Matteotti’s words in Parliament on May 30, 1924 – or his last speech – when to the president of the Chamber of Deputies Alfredo Rocco, the same who later will be among the protagonists of the construction of the Fascist juridical system, who asked him to measure his words, Matteotti replied: “I ask to speak not prudently or imprudently, but in parliamentary terms”. We know how it ended then. What will it be like this time?
* Social historian of ideas