Salman Rushdie writes NYT op-ed on "political courage"

"We find it easier, in these confused times, to admire physical bravery than moral courage," he writes

By Jillian Rayfield

Published April 28, 2013 2:54PM (EDT)

Salman Rushdie    (Wikipedia/Ken Conley)
Salman Rushdie (Wikipedia/Ken Conley)

In an op-ed for the New York Times, author Salman Rushdie wonders why "physical bravery" has come to trump "moral courage" in the eyes of the public. "It’s a vexing time for those of us who believe in the right of artists, intellectuals and ordinary, affronted citizens to push boundaries and take risks and so, at times, to change the way we see the world," Rushdie writes.

From the op-ed:

It’s harder for us to see politicians, with the exception of Nelson Mandela and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as courageous these days. Perhaps we have seen too much, grown too cynical about the inevitable compromises of power. There are no Gandhis, no Lincolns anymore. One man’s hero (Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro) is another’s villain. We no longer easily agree on what it means to be good, or principled, or brave. When political leaders do take courageous steps — as France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, then president, did in Libya by intervening militarily to support the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi — there are as many who doubt as approve. Political courage, nowadays, is almost always ambiguous.

Read more here.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

MORE FROM Jillian Rayfield

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Boston Bombings Nelson Mandela New York Times Politics Salman Rushdie