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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Why Tolerate the Hate? - New York Times

Irshad Manji writes in the New York Times:

Neither the watery word 'tolerance' nor the slippery phrase 'mutual respect' will cut it as a guiding value. Why tolerate violent bigotry? Where's the 'mutual' in that version of mutual respect? Amin Maalouf, a French-Arab novelist, nailed this point when he wrote that 'traditions deserve respect only insofar as they are respectable - that is, exactly insofar as they themselves respect the fundamental rights of men and women.' ... Which brings me to my vote for a value that could guide Western societies: individuality. When we celebrate individuality, we let people choose who they are, be they members of a religion, free spirits, or something else entirely. I realize that for many Europeans, "individuality" might sound too much like the American ideal of individualism. It doesn't have to. Individualism - "I'm out for myself" - differs from individuality - "I'm myself, and my society benefits from my uniqueness." Of course, there may be better values than individuality for Muslims and non-Muslims to embrace. Let's have that debate - without fear of being deemed self-haters or racists by those who twist multiculturalism into an orthodoxy. We know the dangers of taking Islam literally. By now we should understand the peril of taking tolerance literally.
Personally, I am pretty happy with the American ideal of individualism, but I'll take this Individualism as a step up from Multi-Culteralism. We can argue sometimes about what is and is not a fundamental right of men and women. There are some areas of contention. However, it is clear that some traditions, the philosophy of Al-Qaida being a prime example, are not even close. We don't have to even guess if they meet our minimum standards or not. There are many nations in the world that this is true of. Robert Mugabe does not respect the fundamental rights of men and women. Neither does Kim Jung Il. The societies these men have created are not just another alternative, they are wrong. Tolerance of thugery is no virtue.


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