Martha C Nussbaum who is Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago argues the culture of fear threatens the constitutional and ethical foundations of liberal democracy. Fear is also somewhat of a political construct, targeting Muslims as its scapegoat. In reality, they have become scapegoats for people's economic insecurities. Failure of education to acquaint children with the world’s major religions at an early age has added to the prevailing anxiety.
Our current climate of fear shows that people are all too easily turned away from good values in a time of crises and invariably target minorities. Christians will not target Christians even while knowing that one amongst them murdered 76 in Norway, because they only have fantasies about Muslims being dangerous. Nusssbaum is convinced that countries most threatened by the economic crisis will see the most alarming growth of intolerant politics towards minorities.
Part philosophical and part persuasive The New Religious Intolerance advocates tackling the root cause of religious hatred through compassion and imagination. How often has this been said without tangible shift in the politics of hatred? That entire Europe has become less tolerant of religious heterogeneity may have strong bearing on the deep economic crises it is currently passing through. But will economic security alone lead to religious tolerance is a matter of deep conjecture? Whether dissociating politics from religion help us rise above the politics of fear? Without doubt there are forces that see power in sustaining fear amongst communities, not allowing the fear of living in fear disappear from our lives!...Link
The New Religious Intolerance
by Martha C Nussbaum
Belknap/Harvard University Press, London
285 pages, US $ 26.95