National Endowment for Democracy Event in Honor of Vaclav Havel

Earlier today, I skipped both the annual AALS conference and the parallel Federalist Society conference in order to attend a moving memorial for Vaclav Havel sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy and the Czech embassy. Appropriately, most of the speakers were dissidents and human rights activists from societies with repressive governments – including Syria, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, and others. It was an impressive demonstration of the ways in which Havel inspired people all over the world. I won’t try to summarize what the speakers said (videos of some of their remarks are available here). But it was particularly interesting to hear Ethiopian opposition leader Birtukan Midekssa speak about how she had read Havel’s The Power of the Powerless while in prison.

I briefly summarized my own thoughts on Havel’s life and legacy here.