11 July 2004

Workers of the World, We Apologize!

Andrei Codrescu, in The Hole in the Flag (Avon Books, 1991) quotes this apology from a banner in Moscow's Red Square on 1 May 1989, just before he begins his introduction entitled "An Apology for History"--a couple paragraphs of which follow.
A gentle scholar of religions named Ioan P. Coulianou was murdered on May 21, 1991, in Chicago. It was a brutal and mysterious murder. He was found in a locked bathroom stall at the Divinity School of Chicago shot in the head. No money or valuables were taken. Someone had shot him over the top of the next stall. It was a professional execution. Coulianou, an erudite and multilingual man, wrote books about ancient religions and rituals. But he also cared about what might happen to our poor, sad country and wrote articles about it for Italian newspapers. He was critical, as many others including myself, were, of the neo-Communist government in power in Romania, critical about the survival of the vicious Securitate, critical about the resurgence of fascism and race-hatred. Were these criticisms sufficient to cause his death?

The day before Professor Coulianou was murdered, someone telephoned my family and many of my business associates and told them that I had committed suicide. At that time, this book had been circulating in galleys among reviewers and was scheduled for imminent publication. I was out of the country at the time and I was unable to deny the rumor immediately. It spread like wild fire. It was eerie trying to convince people that I wasn't dead. And I wasn't sure if the rumor was a warning or a cover in case I was really going to be dead. During the Ceausescu era this kind of calculated disinformation campaign was common. I cancelled the Chicago portion of my book tour.

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