“Whither Moral Courage?” By SALMAN RUSHDIE
Published: April 27, 2013, New York Times.
“courage” is not enough; the issue over which courage is being demonstrated is of even more defining importance as regards how such demonstrations are received. Trying to fob off Pussy Riot as being in the mould of the Tank Man at Tiananmen or, for Chrissake, Edward Said or Chomsky is a hard sell.
Said and Chomsky, unlike you and the Pussy Rioters for example, did not deliberately set out to taunt and provoke for the express purpose of then turning around “in surprise” at a cold reception to this perverse misunderstanding of the role of the artist. In the course of an artist’s work, he might provoke strong reactions, but provoking reactions is not the primary work of an artist–to mistake these two debases the artist. There’s a subtle difference.
Courage simpliciter is not enough. One can be courageous and still be wrong. The rest of the essay is a good read. I enjoyed it.