Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Intellectuals: Treasuring or Despising Freedom

By Barry Rubin

In a real sense, there was more intellectual freedom in the Arabic-speaking world in 1930 or 1940 then there is today. Long years of nationalist dictatorship have been more repressive than the oligarchical democracies of the pre-1952 (the year an Egyptian military coup brought in the era of Arab nationalist rule), while the power of Islamic and Islamist intimidation is far stronger today, being so well organized and ideologically self-conscious.

Consider this little tale, which encapsulates a great deal about Multiculturalism, Political Correctness, and the folly of our contemporary world. Tahar ben Jelloun, born in Morocco, is a very successful writer in France. He migrated to France in 1971 at the age of 26.

As the Paris Review describes him:

“His most recent book, <em>Racism Explained to My Daughter </em>was a best-seller; and in 1987 he was awarded the Prix Goncourt for his novel The Sacred Night, which was the first book by an Arab writer to be so honored. For the past two years he has been shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature.”

I don’t know his work but he is clearly very well-versed in Western culture, he has written about political corruption and the situation of women in the Arab world as well as a new book about "racism" in France.

The interviewer asked him, “If you lived in North Africa and wrote in Arabic, what could you write now in a fundamentalist climate?”

He answered:

“It would be impossible to write anything-—it would be suicidal....

Read it all:

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