We’ve been hearing more talk, buzz and chatter about Shariah lately than I imagined was possible. Unfortunately, much of it is still uninformed and reliant only on the emotional buoyancy of 9/11, as though the battleground of Lower Manhattan is the only place a Shariah-advancing imam should be barred from building an anti-Constitutional outpost of Islam.
Defenders of the mosque project, meanwhile, exhale testaments to religious freedom and tolerance that crest and crash over apparently unimagined, unknown, ungrasped perils to liberty, equality and freedom of conscience that are actually advertised in Islam’s mainstream tenets.
We must support this mosque, we are told, lest we become, as MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell actually said on the air (without blushing, fainting or otherwise convulsing), like the 9/11 jihadists. But this is a kind of tolerance without limits.
And how virtuous is that? The British philosopher Karl Popper formulated his answer more than a half century ago:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed and tolerance with them…. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade. (Emphasis added.)