Quaker Universalist Conversations

Tolerance & Intolerance: Two Timely Reviews

The Limits of Tolerance by Lacorne
American Intolerance by Bartholomew & Reumschussel

Our world is escalating toward the sort of brutal intolerance of “the Other” that led to World War II. This time, though, the government and people of the United States are perilously close to embracing that brutality themselves.

In this post we review two books that add to our depth perception regarding tolerance and intolerance, though without offering solutions. Denis Lacorne’s The Limits of Tolerance traces the history and vulnerability of the Enlightenment value of tolerance. Robert Bartholomew and Anja Reumschussel’s American Intolerance indicts the United States for its terrible history of official and populist intolerance toward each new influx of immigrants.

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Public Apology and Reparations

Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology
by Edwin L. Battistella – A Review

Edwin L. Battistella’s book Sorry About That is a compilation and analysis of stories of pubic apologies in the primarily U.S. experience. Leaders everywhere make apologies, yet apology-phobia is a global disability. Apology is complex in human relationships. Effective public apologies are even more complex. Public apologies differ with cultural context, just as personal apologies differ in language and timing.

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Jewish universalism & nationalism in Vichy & post-war France

Reading Sarah Hammerschlag’s “Truth for Children”

“Truth for children” is a phrase from a radio address by Emmanuel Levinas in September 1945, shortly after his release from a German prisoner of war camp set aside for Jews. The Geneva conventions had protected Jewish prisoners of war from the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, yet death was a constant threat. It was a time of Jewish awakening for many. As Hammerschlag writes, quoting Levinas (p.54):

“’The Jew lent his own significance to the sadness that he shared with his non-Jewish comrades, a consciousness of Judaism acute as a spasm.’ Within this context, the biblical accounts of the Jewish people took on a new significance. ‘After so many detours,’ Levinas suggested that the stories of the patriarchs, of God and Pharaoh, became true ‘in their elementary truth, in their truth for children, in their vulgar truth.’”

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