Friday, February 11, 2011

The Most Important Question Facing Liberal Democracies


Recently, multiculturalism, and its alleged failure, have caused some minor blips in the media.


Cameron Criticizes ‘Multiculturalism’ in Britain -

BBC News - Global debate on Cameron's multiculturalism speech

Club Britain: Access denied - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

While this has not gotten much attention while the world is focused on the will he/won't he drama of Mubarak and Egypt (he did while I was writing this), I assert that this is the most important question facing liberal democracies. And a potentially fatal one at that.

Where we set the limits on the tolerance of intolerance is at the heart of a liberal democracy's raison d'être. This is inherent in the protection of the minority from the majority (read: civil rights) as well as the freedoms of speech, assembly, the press and many other aspects of life in a modern liberal democracy.

Hence, dealing with groups that reject the tenants of liberal democracy within a liberal democracy is crucial. Their intolerance is corrosive in a liberal democracy because it seeks to elevate a particular group's rights over others.

So the question boils down to: "What can a liberal democracy do to protect itself from intolerance while remaining consistent with its basic tenants?"

And I do not think that anyone knows the answer to that question right now.

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