UK Guardian: Moral Relativism Died with Daniel Pearl

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I used to believe that the world essentially divided into two types of people: those who were broadly tolerant, and those who felt threatened by differences. If only the former ruled the earth, I reasoned, the world might know some measure of peace. But there was a problem with my theory, and it was never clearer than in a conversation I had with a Pakistani friend who told me that he loathed people like George Bush who insisted on dividing the world into “us” and “them”. My friend did not realise that he was in fact falling straight into the camp of people he loathed.

This is a political version of a famous paradox formulated by Bertrand Russell. The stronger you insist on the necessity of tolerance, the more intolerant you become toward those who disagree. The moral lesson is that there is no such thing as unqualified tolerance; ultimately, one must be able to expound intolerance of certain ideologies without surrendering the moral high ground normally linked to tolerance.

The author is Daniel Pearl’s father. Pearl was the reporter captured then eventually beheaded by Pakistani terrorists in Karachi on 31 Jan 2002.

Read it all. It’s certainly a compelling argument for a value-based society as opposed to the more secular “lowest common denominator” approach.

(h/t to Elizabeth Blackney)

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