Monday, November 27, 2006
More on Multiculturalism
I enjoyed Alon's post and the comments on it. They raise the problem of what we might call the paradox of tolerance (that is, that intolerance must be tolerated and that if intolerance prevails in the battle of ideas, then tolerance will be no more -- a variant on one person, one vote, one time). Nomi Stolzenberg at U.S.C. Law Center wrote an article in the Harvard Law Review (on which I was a research assistant, just to give you a sense of how long ago we're talking about) called something like "He Drew A Circle That Shut Me Out: An Assimilationist Critique of Pluralism" that captures these issues very well. My own view is that in a battle between multiculturalism and equality, equality ought to win. This sort of thing comes up quite regularly when religious groups (and it does, unfortunately, tend to be religious groups) deny women and gay people an equal place in their societies and then demand that the surrounding society "stay out" and allow the subordination of its members. When the members "choose" subordination, then I suppose they are -- in the absence of contrary evidence -- consenting adults, and one must tolerate it with some of the same distate that one might tolerate a sexual practice in which one member of the couple consensually burns the other member with cigarettes. But once a "member" objects (or, in the case of children, once someone notices that children are being subjected to subordinating practices), I no longer believe that tolerance should thrive. Karima Bennounce, my colleague at Rutgers, has a fasinating article coming out (I believe in the Columbia International Law Journal) about Turkish and other limits on Muslim covering of girls at school.