LettersLiberal Democracy in Question

An Invitation to Clearmindedness

In times of terror and rage like ours, remaining sober is the vital thing. Murderous fanaticism is not Islam. Fringe and mainstream are different things. Engaging in wild generalizations and disseminating venomous stereotypes is a sure recipe for disaster. Any type of fundamentalism must be combated, resisted, opposed. We ought to find allies within Islam. This is not wishful thinking, but a mandatory condition for our common survival. These are basic principles required in order to avoid our descent into zoology. I take the risk to say these things at a time when it is fashionable to call for closing borders and excluding strangers. I truly hope I am not alone!

Having studied and taught Vaclav Havel’s thought for decades, I think, most humbly, that this is the way he would have reacted to the ongoing tragedy. Not by advocating exclusion, but by promoting inclusion. I remember September 11 vividly. Following the terrible terrorist attacks, the then-president George W. Bush visited a mosque in Washington, DC. It was the right thing to do. I hope the French president François Hollande will do the same. Whatever we think of Bush, this was the right thing to do and he deserves credit for having done it.

Not adding to the axiological confusion and to the vicious mutual hatreds, but rather reaffirming our common humanity: this is the way to go if we don’t want all of us to end up in a global Armaggedon. Identify the enemy, act uncompromisingly, but do not blame a world religion for the criminal acts of the ISIS lunatics.

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Vladimir Tismaneanu

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