March 5, 2010
The Financial Times published a new Harris Poll this week that suggests Americans are more tolerant of Muslim tradition than Europeans.
As the headline reads: “Majority Support Outlawing the Burka”. That majority lies in the 5 Big EU States and ranges from 50% in Germany to 70% in France. In the USA, by contrast, only 33% support a ban on the burka of the type currently proposed by President Sarkozy in France.
So does this mean Europeans are less culturally tolerant than Americans? What of Europe’s enlightenment heritage: a commitment to tolerance, liberty and equality under the law?
Well, you could try to counter that the poll reveals more about the European secular ideal than cultural intolerance. You could try, but you would fail: the very same FT poll revealed even bigger majorities opposed to a combined ban of the burka, the crucifix and the Jewish cappel.
Or you could argue that its just a European preference for government intervention that isn’t shared in small government America….or that Europeans are, perversely, more wary of the security risks posed by full body covers than Americans are.
Or you could admit a cold and nasty truth: the EU motto “United in Diversity” is only the poorest of cousins to America’s “E Pluribus Unum”.
What is to be done?