SALON: So you are saying that you believe the left can end up committing the same sins as the right? Because I think in the United States we have been fighting for tolerance in so many ways -- tolerance for gays, civil rights ...Battles fought and won but those new crimes are lingering.
Lévy: These battles, of course, you fought. I fought ... And it is won. It is achieved. Barack Obama being a candidate for the presidency and maybe -- I hope -- elected means that the fight is won, more or less. Frankly a country where racism is sued in front of lawyers, a country where the women won the power of preventing discrimination and so on, this is great. This is a huge cultural revolution, which America led.
But in the name of tolerance there can be also some crimes -- not committed but veiled ... For example, those who tell us that we have to be tolerant of the radical Islamist movements. Those who tell us that being tolerant means trying to understand their reasons and their justifications. Those who tell us that, about women, to veil the face of a woman is just a customary habit, which we Westerners are not allowed to judge according to the standard of human rights. This is a very bad thing.
This idea that every habit should be respected, every custom should be accepted because it belongs to a whole and that if we take a piece, we break the whole -- this is one of the counter-effects of tolerance. And you have in America a lot of people who said, why should you ask the Indian people to resign the pattern of the castes that belong to their culture? Why should you oblige this or that tribe, people in Africa, to resign the excision of the clitoris of the little girl? It belongs to their culture ...
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Der Spiegel: Why Europeans Love Obama
Beth Arnold's interview with Bernard-Henri Lévy