Sunday random reading

A couple of decent articles.

Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek. Beyond Bush: What the world needs is an open, confident America.

Paul Berman in The New Republic. Who’s Afraid of Tariq Ramadan? Berman also writes about Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, and Pascal Bruckner’s critique of them.

Buruma and Garton Ash, Bruckner concluded, had fallen for the intellectual miasmas of the postmodern sensibility, and the miasmas had led, via the errors of relativism and an indiscriminate multiculturalism, to the simplest of philosophical mistakes. This was the inability to draw even the most elementary of distinctions. In the postmodern idea, the Enlightenment has come to be looked upon as merely one more set of cultural prejudices, no better and very likely rather worse than other sets of cultural prejudices–a zealotry that is unable to control its own excesses. From this point of view, someone like Hirsi Ali, who grew up in an atmosphere of Islamist radicalism and the Muslim Brotherhood in Africa and has taken up a new outlook committed to rationalism and individual freedom, has merely gone from one fundamentalism to another–not much different, seen in this light, from van Gogh’s murderer.

But this means only that Hirsi Ali’s critics have lost the ability to distinguish between a fanatical murderer and a rational debater.Here is “the racism of the anti-racists,” in Bruckner’s phrase. It is the racism that, while pretending to stand up for the oppressed, would deny to someone from Africa the right to make use of the same Enlightenment tools of analysis that Europeans are welcome to use.


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