Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The monolith myth

Christopher Caldwell reviews an excellent new book on the Danish Cartoon controversy.

One point that the Danish author makes in criticizing his own Prime Minister's handling of the affair was that the PM refused to see that the Muslim community was not "monolithic."

This seems to be a great underlying theme in a great many controversies over how to deal with an aggressive ideology. It is always for some reason thought to be a great point to observe that the aggressors are not "monolithic." It seems to come up all the time and is announced rather than argued. The assumption seems to be that once it has been demonstrated that the people that are threatening you are not "monolithic" some great and unanswerable point has been made. And somehow the point is so obvious it does not even have to be argued.

If a group of people want to kill you for different reasons the salient fact about the situation is their area of mutual agreement, not disagreement.

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