martes, 30 de enero de 2007

Ian Buruma le responde a Pascal Bruckner

En un post anterior, cité un artículo de Pascal Bruckner, donde abordaba el debate entre multiculturalismo y los valores de la ilustración, criticando duramente al primero y defendiendo resueltamente el segundo.

En este otro artículo, Ian Buruma le responde. Debate interesantísimo. Ojalá responda también otro de los aludidos, Timothy Garton Ash, excelente autor, cuya lectura recomiendo.

Freedom cannot be decreed

French philosopher Pascal Bruckner accused Ian Buruma of propogating a form of multiculturalism that amounts to legal apartheid. Here, the Dutch journalist and historian defends his position.

I cannot answer for Timothy Garton-Ash, or "the Anglo-Saxons," so I shall speak only for myself. If Mr Bruckner has been kind enough to read my book, I'm not sure how he came to the conclusion that it was an attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The last two sentences of "Murder in Amsterdam" are: "And Ayaan Hirsi Ali has had to leave the scene [The Netherlands]. My country seems smaller without her."

I admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and agree with most of what she stands for. Liberal democracy must be defended against violent extremism, and women should be protected from abuse. There can be no religious justification for it. My skepticism is about her analysis of the social problems in European societies caused by the influx of large numbers of non-Western refugees and immigrants. Revolutionary Islamism, emanating from the Middle-East, is indeed a threat to all free societies. Where I differ from Hirsi Ali is perhaps a matter of emphasis. Having turned from devout Islamism to atheism, she tends to see religion, and Islam in particular, as the root of all evils, especially of the abuse of women. Cultural traditions, tribal customs, historical antecedents, all of which are highly diverse, even inside the Muslim world, are flattened into a monolithic threat. Islam, as practised in Java, is not the same as in a Moroccan village, or the Sudan, or Rotterdam. In her autobiography, Hirsi Ali herself describes the considerable differences between her native Somalia and Saudi Arabia.

In Europe, even the issue of headscarves cannot be treated simply as a symbol of religious bigotry. Some women wear them to ward off male aggression, others because their parents insist on it, and some by their own choice, as a defiant badge of identity, even rebellion. Bruckner admires rebels. Should we only side with rebels whose views and practices we like? Or does living in a free society also imply that people should be able to choose the way they look, or speak, or worship, even if we don't like it, as long as they don't harm others? A free-spirited citizen does not tolerate different customs or cultures because he thinks they are wonderful, but because he believes in freedom.

To be tolerant is not to be indiscriminate. I would not dream of defending dictatorship in the name of tolerance for other cultures. Violence against women, or indeed men, is intolerable, and should be punished by law. I would not defend the genital mutilation of children, let alone wife-beating, no matter how it is rationalized. Honour killings are murders, and must be treated as such. But these are matters of law enforcement. Figuring out how to stop violent ideologies from infecting mainstream Muslims, and thus threatening free societies, is trickier. I'm not convinced that public statements, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali has made, that Islam in general is "backward" and its prophet "perverse", are helpful.

She has the perfect right to say these things, of course, just as Mr Bruckner has the right to describe Muslims as "brutes". I am not in the slightest bit "embarrassed" by her critique of Islam, nor have I ever denied her the right "to refer to Voltaire." But if Islamic reform is the goal, then such denunciations are not the best way to achieve it, especially if they come from an avowed atheist. Condemning Islam, without taking the many variations into account, is too indiscriminate. Not every Muslim, not even every orthodox Muslim, is a holy warrior in spe. Isolating the jihadis and fighting their dangerous dogmas is too important to be dealt with by crude polemics.

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