Monday, February 07, 2005

The Enemies of the Enlightenment

This is a nice identification about Britain's proposed "incitement to religious hatred" law—from an author who knows a thing or two about the subject: Salman Rushdie. Note that Rushdie characterizes this, accurately, as a battle to preserve the legacy of the Enlightenment. But notice also who the Enlightenment's main enemies are, at least in this case: the supposedly secular, "politically correct" left.

"Democracy Is No Polite Tea Party," Salman Rushdie, LA Times, 2/7/05
"I recently returned from a trip to Britain, where I discovered, to my consternation, that the government is proposing a law to ban what it is calling 'incitement to religious hatred.' This measure, much beloved by liberals, is apparently designed to protect people 'targeted' because of their religious beliefs. But I see nothing to applaud. To me it is merely further evidence that in Britain, just as in the United States, we may need to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again. That battle, you may remember, was about the church's desire to place limits on thought. Diderot's novel 'La Religieuse,' with its portrayal of nuns and their behavior, was deliberately blasphemous: it challenged religious authority, with its indexes and inquisitions, on what was possible to say. Most of our contemporary ideas about freedom of speech and imagination come from the Enlightenment. But although we may have thought the battle long since won, if we aren't careful, it is about to be 'un-won.' "