Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, June 08, 2004
THE PC-PLAYSCHOOL CONTROVERSY makes the following observation by Kenneth Minogue especially interesting.

Minogue is commenting on the attaempts by the left to label both Islamist terrorists and Bible-observant Christians as "fundamentalists", and therefore equivalent.

Osama and George W, brothers under the skin, get it?

Tolerating the tolerant presents no problems. What do we do, however, when confronted with the intolerant? Should we tolerate the people whom liberals denounce as racists, sexists, homophobes, indeed even “judgmentalists”? In actual fact, liberals are highly intolerant of such people. They ostracize them socially, treat them intellectually with contempt, and invoke the law on them whenever possible. In these ways they force upon us the paradox that the norm of tolerance can lead directly to intolerance. The ideal of toleration sounds like a formal condition allowing all flowers to bloom, but it turns out on examination to adumbrate a determinate form of life no less intrusive than the Sharia or “fundamentalist” Christianity. The liberal solution to this problem in the long term is a reversion to cognitive fantasy. It is that we must try to achieve right-thinking by “educating” the young: everyone must be taught the egalitarian doctrine that men and women, black and white, heterosexual and homosexual, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist, and so on are all part of the one human family and must be treated as brothers and sisters.

From the point of view of this aspiration, fundamentalists are those who reject this world community. They are people who demand from society a certain cultural compatibility with their fellow citizens. And in that sense, of course, most of us are fundamentalists. ...

But liberal internationalists had better face the fact that it is fundamentalists in this broad sense who are in closer touch with reality than they are.