February 11, 2006

WITHHOLDING RESPECT WOULD REQUIRE SELF-RESPECT:

Let's try a little intolerance (Nigel Farndale, 12/02/2006, Daily Telegraph)

Abu Hamza has done us a favour, in a way. He has forced us to question what, if anything, a liberal democracy like ours actually believes in. There was a time when we could have answered unequivocally: "Tolerance". But somewhere along the line, without anyone being consulted, this seems to have been watered down to "empathy" and that equally fashionable word "respect".

This is a shame because tolerance is a more useful and muscular concept. It implies that other people should have the right to be who they are and, within reason, do what they do, but that we in turn should have the right to withhold our respect for them. Common sense tells us, after all, that there are people around who cannot and ought not to command our respect or empathy. We regard what they stand for as bigoted, ignorant and contemptible. To be respectful of them would be to become passive and pathetic; to lose our moral centre.


The problem is that Europe's sort of modus vivendi tolerance is based on the premise that there's nothing worth believing in.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2006 8:39 PM
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