shuttered-window-1

The view from 2003

Recent developments in my country, before and since the Referendum on 23 June 2016, have been very disturbing. Post-war gains that I believed were permanent, such as respect for international conventions of human rights, are now in question. In this context, I remembered a public lecture I gave at the National Museum of Scotland in January 2003, in the anxious lull between the September 11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq. In it, I set out an argument about the difference between culture and citizenship and the vital role of cultural institutions in diverse, divided societies. I re-read that lecture today, expecting it to seem dated but, apart from a few clumsy phrases, there was nothing I wanted to change. So as a small counterargument to some of what I hear now, here is that talk. I’m afraid it’s a long and serious read and, for once, un-enlivened by pictures, but that suits the times. A printable version is available by clicking on the link below:

 

Getting On: Culture, Diversity and Belonging

Public Lecture by François Matarasso at the Museum of Scotland, 9 January 2003

When I was last in Edinburgh, knowing that I was due to speak here tonight, I took the opportunity to visit the Museum of Scotland. I was particularly curious to see how a new national museum would approach the presentation of a collection intended, in its own words, ‘to explain the land and its people’.[1]

This mission, of telling the nation’s story, has been a central concern of such museums since the nineteenth century, when most of Europe’s present-day states emerged from the failing grip of empires and principalities. The creation of a national museum was, in an age much less media-dominated than our own, an important symbolic act marking the establishment of a nation. In that context, the almost simultaneous appearance of the Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament in the capital is scarcely coincidental. But telling the national story was simpler in the past, when it included a much narrower range of voices. So I was interested to see how this task would be approached by a museum on the threshold of the twenty-first century.

I’m sure you will be more familiar with the new museum than me, so I won’t describe it now. It has been justly admired and celebrated within Scotland and beyond, particularly in terms of the relationship between the building and its collection. The narrative takes visitors through the expected cornerstones of a nation’s development, from the land itself to its peoples and their rulers, from their domestic lives to their military and industrial adventures, and all within the framework of their changing beliefs. The flotsam of history – carvings, jewellery, weapons, documents, costumes and so on – describe a story which will be broadly familiar to many Scots and, perhaps in less detail, to many other British people too.

But I wonder how familiar that narrative is to some of Scotland’s younger people, who have so much more vivid an engagement with the world beyond their own borders than was the case in the past; or how familiar it might be to recent settlers in Scotland, those who have made their home here in the past thirty or fifty years, bringing their own diverse stories of distant places, people and beliefs. One education room tries to incorporate these chapters of Scotland’s story in a series of panels about five young people who represent the nation’s current diversity.

For all its good intentions, though, the tenuous relationship of this display with the main exhibition highlights the difficulties that public cultural institutions have in reconciling their existing concepts, values and practices – which necessarily reflect an established view of reality – with the rapidly changing societies whose interests they have to serve. Above all, in the context of a national museum, it exposes the tensions between culture and citizenship which arise because European concepts of national belonging are so deeply rooted in culture.

This is not a minor problem affecting curators and arts managers. Its scale and importance is evident in the controversial issue of Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Last month, EU heads of state held a summit on enlargement in Copenhagen, at which the terms of accession of ten new members, mostly former communist countries in central Europe, were agreed. To anyone who lived through the Cold War, when Europe’s eastern borderland was Germany, this change is both heartening and challenging, requiring us to rethink our ideas of home and identity.

It was, by any standards, a historic moment. But it wasn’t this decision which received most attention outside the summit chamber itself, or, perhaps, inside. The new members were overshadowed by a parallel decision to delay considering Turkey’s 50 year-old bid for admission to the EU until December 2004: even then, all that was offered was talks about talks.

This rebuff to Turkey’s hopes had been well signalled. In the month or so before the summit, two major European politicians had argued against Turkey’s inclusion in very hostile terms. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former president of France leading a review of the European Union’s constitution, announced that Turkey was not a European country, and that its admittance to the EU would lead to the collapse of the Union.[2] The point was put more bluntly by Edmund Stoiber, narrowly-defeated conservative candidate for the German Chancellorship, who declared that Turkey was ‘too poor and too different to join a Christian club’.[3]

At the simplest level, this reflects deep ignorance of history. Turkey has played a major part in shaping the two well-springs of European culture: the Classical and Judaeo-Christian world views. The land of Turkey has been known by many names over the centuries, but it was the centre of the Hellenistic world and bears traces of that past as significant as those of Greece or Italy. It was vital to the Roman Empire, preserving it after the fall of Rome and the rise of Christianity, when Constantinople became the Roman capital. Under Byzantium, European culture was safeguarded for eight centuries, and Orthodox Christianity flourished across its eastern dominions. Finally, between the fifteenth and the twentieth centuries, Turkish rule brought a Muslim dimension to this complex cultural mix, leaving its mark from the gates of Vienna to the marches of Russia. Only the most wilfully occidental of Europeans could fail to recognise the legitimacy of this land and its peoples to a place in European culture.

But cultural questions were not much discussed in Copenhagen, where the delay in considering Turkey’s position was justified by Ankara’s record in democracy and human rights. Again, that seems a partial interpretation of history. For many years, neither democracy nor human rights prospered in countries such as Poland and Hungary which are judged ready for membership, and the situation of minorities, particularly Roma people, is still far from secure throughout Central Europe. Among those making the judgement were Portugal, which was admitted to the European Community, as it was then, 16 years after the end of the Salazar dictatorship, and Spain, which joined the club just 11 years after the death of General Franco. Compared to these troubled histories, and without in any way diminishing its serious human rights failings, Turkey’s dogged commitment to secular, democratic ideals since 1923, and especially after 1945, merits recognition,. Indeed, her commitment to democracy was sufficient to win membership of NATO, the OECD and the Council of Europe decades ago[4].

No, Turkey’s problem, for people like Giscard d’Estaing and Stoiber, is the perception of difference, to put it at its gentlest. In considering whether Turkey is a European country, we pretend to deal with political or economic questions, but are really concerned with cultural ones. And our ignorance of the distinction, our pretence to be dealing with objective standards when we are driven by subjective, barely-rational feelings, is fraught with dangers. Europe’s recent history plainly testifies that we are at our worst when we confuse culture and politics. The challenge highlighted by Turkey’s request to join the European Union is whether we Europeans are yet ready to accept the reality of cultural diversity and rethink what we mean by citizenship. But before looking at cultural diversity in our societies, I should explain what I mean by the term.

First things first: cultural diversity is not a euphemism for the cultures of black or immigrant communities, though it is often used as such. There have been a series of similar terms, since Naseem Khan first drew attention to ‘the arts that Britain ignores’ in her benchmark study of 1976. Most have, consciously or not, been defined by racial concepts such as ‘black arts’, ‘ethnic minority arts’ or the subtly-different ‘minority ethnic arts’, partly because it is visible difference which has attracted the attention of the British arts world, rather than actual cultural differences.[5] Post-war immigration from Central and Eastern Europe, which created Polish, Lithuanian and Yugoslav communities in various British cities, passed almost unnoticed. The dominant white, Christian culture sees itself as the norm and characterises as diverse what it can recognise as different.

This preoccupation with difference often means that disabled people are included within concepts of cultural diversity, although in most cases their artistic expression it is not distinguishable from that of non-disabled people. There is a strong disability arts movement, shaped by the experience of disability and often with a more or less clear political perspective, but that should be understood alongside other artistic movements which politicise personal experience or identity, including feminist art or some black arts movements.

Difference can only be linked with the work of all disabled people, women or non-white men by adopting, however unconsciously, a view that the creative expression of white, educated men is the norm, and disregarding the individual artist’s intention. The same is true of the many other new voices that have made themselves better heard in our culture over recent decades, including those of working-class, gay and lesbian, immigrant, black British, Jewish, refugee and other, long-marginalised people. There is no justification for labelling them, or their artistic work, as ‘culturally diverse’, and very little purpose in doing so. Like all artists, these people contribute to a culturally-diverse society: they do not embody it.

We should approach the work of all artists, whatever their backgrounds, through the concepts we have always used. How do we respond to the work, the values and perspective that it reflects, its place in relation to other art work, the intentions of its creator? That does not mean taking our own standards as universal, as John Tusa appeared to do when he argued recently that arts funders must be ready

‘To tell an ethnic arts group that their work might be satisfying in an anthropological way, might have a certain local, social value, but fails by the artistic standards applied to others’.[6]

On the contrary, a recognition of the reality and importance of diversity, and our own contribution to it, should make us cautious in using our own values to judge work which may confront or challenge those values, or in making easy assumptions of worth. Negotiating the rapids of cultural diversity requires us to question our own expectations, but not, assuredly, to abandon our own values. I shall return to this point shortly.

So if cultural diversity can’t be taken to describe the work of people who are not like us, who are not part of the dominant cultural landscape of any particular nation, what does it mean?

I prefer to see cultural diversity as a measure of the variety of cultural expression within a given society, and particularly the degree of legitimacy given to different voices and values by the state itself. Instead of being a term of classification applied to certain people, groups or works, leading to the semantic nonsense of ‘culturally-diverse arts’, we can approach cultural diversity as a defining characteristic of the cultural life of communities or states. We can then consider the quality of cultural diversity, as evidenced in the variety of legitimated forms of cultural expression, in different places, societies and times.

This approach has the advantage of including all voices within the concept of diversity, including dominant ones. Our current thinking about cultural diversity is undermined because it ignores the larger part of our cultural life, including most of what is paid for through taxation. And yet, the idea that cultural diversity doesn’t apply to white people is silly and offensive. I can illustrate the point personally: my grandparents were born in four countries on two continents, and were brought up in three faiths. Many of you will have equally complex origins, to say nothing of the multi-layered identities we make for ourselves from choice. Cultural diversity is a universal experience: it has nothing to do with race or place. Unless we see it as something which concerns us all – whatever our own backgrounds – we will not be able to respond, individually or collectively, to its challenges and opportunities.

But it is only helpful to have a concept of cultural diversity, and consequently a way of thinking about it in specific contexts, if it makes a difference to our lives. There is a view that this is all just political correctness, and that we’d do better to leave artists and cultural institutions to their own devices because the best, whatever that may be, will always emerge. But we have no way of knowing whether the best does find its place in the sun. Nor should we assume that the way in which we organise our culture is any better or fairer than any other area of life. If the Metropolitan Police can recognise its institutional prejudices, perhaps cultural organisations, founded, after all, on Enlightenment principles, should also be ready to examine their practice.

It seems to me that there are compelling reasons why we should be concerned with cultural diversity in our own society.

At its simplest, there is a parallel between cultural diversity and bio-diversity. In both cases, it is clearly better to have a larger range of available resources. Even if we choose not to avail ourselves of all the opportunities – or, more accurately, if we don’t even know the full range of possibilities – the fact that we have choice is a present good. It’s also a future good, since we cannot know what our children or grandchildren may find useful or important. This choice is not the same as the consumer choice claimed for free markets, which is restricted by the ability to pay. The choices inherent in cultural diversity, like those of bio-diversity, are freely available and can be protected by leaving things alone as much as by taking action.

Diversity also has direct benefits. It is not accidental that dynamic cultural centres have been cities with an international outlook: centres of empire like Vienna or Istanbul, great ports like New York or Shanghai, trading hubs like Venice or Timbuktu. During the last century, a succession of great cities vied for cultural pre-eminence: London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles and others: in each case, their energy and creativity is associated with the interaction of diverse cultural groups. A number of researchers, most recently the American economist Richard Florida, have demonstrated the relationship between economically successful cities and cultural diversity. There are rare examples of countries which have seen their culture flourish behind closed borders, most notably Japan during the Edo period, though the experience proved ultimately debilitating and collapsed under American pressure after 1868. But isolationism, as experienced under communism in Bulgaria, Romania and East Germany, more usually leads only to economic and creative stagnation. South Africa’s attempt to deny diversity through the apartheid system is another example of cultural suffocation.

Underlying this interaction is the opportunity to learn from other cultures, to see from other perspectives, to appreciate other values. The story of European culture is a succession of external influences, as ideas are carried across borders by products and people. At best, this movement fosters an open-minded, tolerant society whose members enjoy liberty because they expect it of others. This acceptance of diversity is inseparable from democracy itself, as Pericles told his fellow Athenians in the first great exposition of democratic principles:

‘As we give free play to all in our public life, so we carry the same spirit into our daily relations with one another. We have no black looks or angry words for our neighbour if he enjoys himself in his own way, and we abstain from the little acts of churlishness which, though they leave no mark, yet cause annoyance to whosoever notes them.’[7]

It is this intimate link between tolerance or, better, acceptance of diversity on the one hand, and democracy on the other, which makes cultural diversity a strength. Equally, it is why getting these issues wrong can be so dangerous. Let me be clear: if cultural diversity has dangers that is simply because, like all aspects of culture, it can be exploited by demagogues, revolutionaries and tyrants. And the easiest way to do that, once again, is to confuse politics and culture.

Take the emergence of the National Socialist party in Germany in the late 1920s. The country was in trouble on many fronts, but above all economically. The political culture believed it was treated unjustly by the Great Powers, particularly in relation to its colonial ambitions. That sentiment became a deep popular grievance over the terms of the peace negotiated in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. But it was still essentially a political problem, capable of political solution. Germany’s former ally, Turkey, had re-negotiated much better terms in 1923. What the Nazis did was to erect a cultural fantasy, about the liberation of a mythic pre-Christian Germanic people from the oppression of lesser races, onto a political grievance. In doing so, they gave simple form to a complex idea, allowing people to identify with it, and unleashing the disasters that we know.

The same process of combining political grievance with cultural fantasy was adopted by Slobodan Milosevic in the last years of Yugoslavia, and by the Hutu majority in Rwanda. It is being pursued in, among other places, India, leaving the novelist Arundhati Roy to ask, following the orchestrated pogrom against Gujarati Muslims last spring:

‘What kind of depraved vision can even imagine India without the range and beauty and spectacular anarchy of all these cultures?’.[8]

And very close to home, a version of it is being attempted by neo-fascists in some British cities as I speak. (It is notable, incidentally, that this evil concoction is always used to turn majorities against minorities: it is an odd human perversity that large groups so often feel threatened by small ones.)

We Europeans deceive ourselves if we think that, because we have lived through an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, the terrors of our past are banished for ever.

Given that such potential exists for exploitation of cultural diversity, and the dangers that ensue, we need to take this issue very seriously. The uncertainties of the post-communist realm, exacerbated by the neoliberal economics of a shrinking world, mean that cultures, and value systems, are likely to confront one another more rather than less in the 21st century. We cannot meet these challenges by retreating from them, like the Tokugawa Shoguns in 17th century Japan. None of this is going away. Nor should we make the mistake of thinking that cultural diversity is only the result of immigration. The realities of religious sectarianism are just one example of the native diversity – and potential violence – in all societies.

Attempts to stifle cultural identity and to reduce diversity are always fatal. Africa still lives out the disaster of boundaries drawn in colonial ignorance of local cultures. Despite its almost limitless power over its citizens, and its massive use of repression, the Soviet Union completely failed to create a homogenous society from the Russian Empire it had inherited. The present war in Chechnya is only the most violent of many tensions which have emerged from 70 years in the deep freeze as fresh as ever.

In contrast, the United States, for all its flaws and struggles with racism, has managed the diversity of its cultures with much greater success, so that it is now natural to identify oneself as African-American, Korean-American, Irish-American or almost any other dual identity one can imagine. This has been achieved in part by making a clear constitutional distinction between culture and politics. A country made by dissenters  for dissenters, America adopted democracy as the best safeguard of individual liberty and placed culture, including religion and identity, firmly into the personal sphere. American citizenship depends on acceptance of, and identification with, a political ideal of liberty, individualism and self-reliance, and the state’s symbols, from the stars and stripes outward, reflect those abstract ideals. The symbolism of schoolchildren saluting the stars and stripes may strike Europeans as strange, but perhaps we should consider whether such rituals are not observed in Britain because we assume, even more simplistically, that people either belong or don’t.

In Europe, culture was shaped within tribal and religious concepts, or used to express national identity in the struggle for liberation from one or other failing empire. As a result, the link between nationality, citizenship and culture can be much more difficult to negotiate. We are slowly turning to American practices – such as imposing citizenship criteria based on an ability to speak English, or swearing allegiance to the state – but unless we can distinguish between citizenship and culture, these are unlikely to solve our problems.

So what can we do to meet these complex challenges? I can suggest three important steps that we could take as a nation, as cultural institutions whose daily business this is, and even as individuals.

First, we need to accept that cultural diversity is a fact, an inescapable reality of the world we live in. Racial and cultural homogeneity within national borders has never existed, and only fantasists can believe that such a dream is desirable or attainable. As such, cultural diversity is politically and morally neutral: what matters is how we respond to it. As Billy Connolly once said,

“I hate all those weathermen, too, who tell you that rain is bad weather. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.’[9]

In determining our response to the conditions, we should be guided by the principles of democracy, justice and human rights which underpin our society’s values.

If cultural diversity is the normal state of our world, we need policies which govern it, as far as possible, for the common good, policies which safeguard cultural liberties and rights within a democratic framework, and make the most of diversity’s capacity for creative innovation, while reducing its potential as a source of political conflict. The benefits of getting cultural diversity right are at least as great as the dangers of getting it wrong. We need cultural policies – from governments and cultural institutions – which make the most of the world we actually live in rather than perpetuating divisive fantasies.

The greatest obstacle to doing that is the fear that accepting cultural diversity means abandoning our own beliefs, or even belief itself. But legitimising a broader range of cultural expression does not mean that we have to abandon our standards and values, only that we have to be clear which are political – and so part of the state’s concerns – and which are cultural and belong to our individual liberties.

Europe’s fundamental political standards were recently described by Vaclav Havel, the playwright and president of the Czech Republic, as:

‘Respect for the individual and for humanity’s freedoms, rights and dignity; the principle of solidarity; the rule of law and equality before the law; protection of minorities; democratic institutions; separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers; political pluralism; respect for private ownership and private enterprise, and a market economy; and the furtherance of civil society.’[10]

Such a political framework should give us the clarity and the confidence to explore, accept and even celebrate cultural life which does not – as some certainly does – consciously oppose such basic concepts.

So the second crucial step is to begin to disentangle politics and culture, and particularly to distinguish citizenship from cultural identity. It must be possible to be a fully-recognised equal member of a nation while maintaining and celebrating one’s cultural identity and values – always, of course, provided those values do not conflict with our common democratic rights and duties.

So, for example, while it is legitimate for the state to do what it can to encourage all its citizens to know English, as the common language without which citizenship is difficult to exercise, it has no right to comment on what language choose to speak among themselves, as the Home Secretary did recently.[11] As long as we can communicate in the common language when necessary, we should be able to use Gaelic, Welsh, Dutch, Urdu, BSL or any other language which is part of our culture, when we choose to.

Likewise, free citizens of a democratic state have the right to hold whatever religious beliefs they wish. If that leads them to express those beliefs in their personal grooming or dress, so be it. But when those beliefs lead them to work towards overthrowing the democratic society in which they live and which protects those very freedoms of belief, the state has the right and duty to defend itself. That is when culture becomes politics or even, to use an old-fashioned word, rebellion.

The third step we should take, beyond accepting the reality of cultural diversity and putting more distance between politics and culture, is to see debate about these issues as absolutely essential to the future of our society and our culture. It is a fundamental responsibility of public cultural institutions, in particular, to open up these questions through the work they create and promote. Museums, arts centres, theatre companies, galleries, libraries and the rest of our cultural infrastructure have a unique role to play in enabling that discussion to happen, by presenting us with a range of voices, values and expressions which reflects the diversity of our society. That, after all, is what they have always done. Cultural institutions are factories of symbolic meaning. All that has changed is that they are being asked to make sense for a much more diverse audience than in the past.

Take the example of this institution. For the Museum of Scotland, that might mean an exhibition which considered not just what Scotland has given the world in terms of invention and technology, but what it drew from other cultures – from Islamic mathematics to Chinese gunpowder – to achieve its breakthroughs. Or it might mean linking the current project on Scottish migration with a parallel concern for the stories of those who came the other way. The emigrants are described by the Museum with appropriate dignity:

‘Crofters, adventurers, businessmen, missionaries, soldiers all took off on often perilous journeys to an uncertain future. Some prospered, some suffered, but they all held on to a sense of their own nationality, proud of their heritage’.[12]

It would be good to see the experience of immigrants to Scotland described with comparable sympathy and understanding.

The three steps which I have suggested would not, in themselves resolve all the tensions inherent in living with cultural diversity. But they would take us quite a way further towards a more constructive, less volatile acceptance of it.

In an essay written after the September 11th attacks, the American jurist Jeffrey Abramson has written of the need for a renewed ‘appreciation of the contribution diversity makes to democracy’.[13]  He argues that an ethic of respect, which requires an engagement with difference, is preferable to an ethic of tolerance, in which it is easy for people to remain ignorant of their neighbours’ beliefs and culture:

‘Tolerant persons do not ever have to enter one another’s houses of worship, schools, parks, or homes. But the accommodation of separate cultures that hold in good times are strained during crises. Democratic diversity finds firmer footing when citizens cross over to other sections of town, daring to learn and appreciate firsthand the “otherness” of others. It is this transition from tolerance to respect that events of September 11 force upon liberal societies, with still uncertain results.’ [14]

He is right to be cautious. After all, belief in democracy is one among many faiths, and there are many who do not share it. But Abramson’s ideal of respect points to an approach which is more principled than merely passive tolerance, an ideal which requires from us all – whatever we regard as otherness – an engagement with each other as equal citizens of a common state. Perhaps acceptance of that principle is a better test of citizenship than which language we speak at home.

Getting on, in peace and, perhaps, prosperity, may be the biggest human challenge we face. The means are unclear and the results uncertain. We do not know where to draw the lines between conflicting beliefs and we often get it wrong. But we cannot risk abandoning the enterprise. It has been said that the price of democracy is never-ending discussion; Churchill put it more simply when he said that ‘To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war’.[15]

Culture, which is so often the definition of difference, has also the capacity to enable discussion. In this uncertain world, it is the essential mission of public cultural institutions to provide the space where people from every part of town can begin to learn about and respect one another.  The task of a national museum today is not to tell the nation’s story, but to make space for all of its stories.

References

[1]      Museum of Scotland, Guidebook, Edinburgh 1998.

[2]      Le Monde, 9 November 2002. But what is a European country? Guiana, Martinique and Réunion, because they are part of France, extend the borders of the EU to South America, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean: these and other ‘overseas territories’ all figure on the map of Europe printed on every euro banknote.

[3]      As reported on the BBC ‘World at One’, 13 December 2002. At $20,420 in 2015 Turkey’s GDP per capita is almost exactly the same as Bulgaria’s and Romania’s, countries which became EU members in 2007. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita (accessed 08.10.2016)

[4]      Unhappily freedom and democracy has lost ground since this was written in 2003, under the Prime Ministership and then the Presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The attempted coup d’état on 15 July 2016 has seen purges and repression of a kind that would not be tolerated in an EU Member state. The question of how far Turkey’s 21st century history has been shaped by the EU’s reticence to admit it to membership will be for historians to debate.

[5]      The Arts Council of England’s (2003) programme, Decibel, aims to ‘raise the voice of culturally diverse arts in Britain’, which it defines as meaning ‘diversity resulting from post-war immigration, with an increased focus on artists from African, Asian and Caribbean backgrounds in England. Asia refers to the continent from Turkey to Japan’; Decibel leaflet, ACE: London. See also ‘Decibel concludes’ by Colin Beesting, Arts Professional 19 April 2004 http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/article/decibel-decibel-concludes (accessed 08.10.2016)

[6]      John Tusa,  Art Matters: Reflecting on Culture, London 1999, p.163.

[7]      Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, II.37, translated by R. W. Livingstone, Oxford 1943.

[8]      Arundhati Roy, The Algebra of Infinite Justice, London 2002, p.240.

[9]      Billy Connolly interviewed by Tim Adams, The Observer, 23 September 2001, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/sep/23/biography.billyconnolly  (accessed 08.10.2016)

[10]    Vaclav Havel, ‘Fact or Fiction?’ in Index on Censorship #199, London 2001, pp.61-62.

[11]    David Blunkett’s comments were reported by the BBC on 16 September 2002; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2261239.stm

[12]    Museum of Scotland International: http://www.nms.ac.uk/mos/index.htm

[13]    Jeffrey Abramson, ‘Ideals of Democratic Justice’ in The End of Tolerance?, Alfred Herrhausen Society for International Dialogue, London 2002, pp.98.

[14]    Jeffrey Abramson, ‘Teaching Civil Liberties as a Branch of Political Theory: Tolerance Versus Respect’ in Sarat, A. ed. (2004) Law in the Liberal Arts. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, p.150

[15]    Speech at the White House, Washington, 26 June 1954.

One thought on “Please don’t close the shutters

  1. Respect requires listening, thinking and understanding and probablly experience of the other . It is different to tolerence, as you say. We need to create situations where we can do this in a safe space.
    I recently visited a mosque in Aberdeen on their open day. This was a very worthwhile experience. Fundamental differences of opinion about the role of women alongside respect and admiration for creating strong community bonds that would be admired by many Christian churches if they saw them.
    One of many reasons that people voted for Brexit was out of a worry about fundamental Islam and deep misunderstanding about the Muslim faith. Hazrat Inayat Khan saw this very clearly when he came to the West in 1910.

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