Salman Rushdie’s opinion piece on moral courage is a wake up call to those complacent in their feelings towards liberty. As the world increasingly shifts from promoting liberty to equality, many voices that we used to admire as courageous are instead being thrown under the bus because they are “rocking the boat”.
As recently as 1989, the image of a man carrying two shopping bags and defying the tanks of Tiananmen Square became, almost at once, a global symbol of courage.
Then, it seems, things changed. The “Tank Man” has been largely forgotten in China, while the pro-democracy protesters, including those who died in the massacre of June 3 and 4, have been successfully redescribed by the Chinese authorities as counterrevolutionaries.
THIS new idea — that writers, scholars and artists who stand against orthodoxy or bigotry are to blame for upsetting people — is spreading fast, even to countries like India that once prided themselves on their freedoms.
We should be careful about painting certain forces as good or evil based on the media’s coverage. As Mr. Rushdie points out, even American’s fall into the trap of seeing protestors as immoral naer-do wells. When the Occupy movement hit full force, media coverage was almost scathing in its disdain for the purpose of the movement, and many viewed the protests as some sort of novelty, rather than a legitimate way to communicate an idea.
Within our own Mormon community, protests of church policies are often seen as heretical attempts to delegitimize church authority, and as such are looked upon with contempt. I believe this feeling goes beyond just church politics and into our political life as well. Though Mormons are happy to resolve disputes through the courts, I feel that minority groups seeking a greater voice through public protests are discriminated against rather than listened to. It is ironic that we (at least in Utah), have arrived at this mindset; we forget that this country would not exist without the tremendous moral courage the founding fathers had when they led a revolution in protest of Britain’s rule. Perhaps we should reconsider what it means to be a “good citizen”.