Notes about human rights

April 20, 2011 permalink

Salman Rushdie on Ai Weiwi

The lives of artists are more fragile than their creations. The poet Ovid was exiled by Augustus to a little hell-hole on the Black Sea called Tomis, but his poetry has outlasted the Roman Empire. Osip Mandelstam died in a Stalinist work camp, but his poetry has outlived the Soviet Union. Federico García Lorca was killed by the thugs of Spain’s Generalissimo Francisco Franco, but his poetry has survived that tyrannical regime.

We can perhaps bet on art to win over tyrants. It is the world’s artists, particularly those courageous enough to stand up against authoritarianism, for whom we need to be concerned, and for whose safety we must fight.

From Salman Rushdie’s op-ed “Dangerous Arts” in today’s New York Times, on Ai Weiwei’s arrest and detention by Chinese authorities, a matter of human rights urgency.