A right to insult

Print edition : November 02, 2012

Jeremy Waldron writes: "Often in the American debate, the philosophical arguments about hate speech are knee-jerk, impulsive and thoughtless."

THE serial that began in 1988 with the publication of Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses acquired steam in 2005 when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published its infamous cartoons and has now reached a crescendo with the video film entitled Innocence of Muslims, which is universally regarded as offensive and condemnable (the law on this point was discussed by this writer in Frontline, April 7, 2006). Denigration of the Prophet Muhammad in the West has an ancient lineage as Minou Reeves records in her erudite work Muhammad in Europe: A Thousand Years of Western Myth-Making (reviewed in Frontline, December 7, 2001).

Rest assured, the serial will continue. It is, therefore, important to understand precisely the issues that have been raised and be prepared for the times to come. The debate in the West is marred by intellectual sloth, moral blindness, cultural perversity and political arrogance. Not a few in India share these traits as they enlist themselves in the contest. As Louis Michael Seidman of Georgetown University noted: We have plenty of free speech in this country, but not nearly enough free speech about free speech itself.

The issue is posed generally in bland sweeping termsfreedom of speech. The precise issues raised by Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist and the film-maker are glossed over. To Shrabani Basu, Rushdie claimed that his book was a serious attempt to write about religion and revelation from the point of view of a secular person ( Sunday, September 18, 1988). Only a few days later, he told N. Ram: I wrote a fiction about a prophet similar to Muhammad ( The Hindu, October 10, 1988).

Muslims did not resent the French Marxist Maxime Rodinsons Muhammad (Pelican, 1971) or V.S. Naipauls puerile Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981). Shelves of libraries and bookshops are full of books sharply critical of Islam and its Prophet. Muslims were outraged because Rushdie chose consciously and deliberately to insult, not criticise, the faith. That was the issue then and it remains the issue still.

Two chapters of Rushdies book, Chapter II and VI named Mahound and Return to Jahilia, are pertinent. It is unthinkable that Rushdie was unaware of the history of the word Mahound. It was coined by the Crusaders and is a compound of the first syllable of the Prophets name and hound. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary says that Mahound means the false prophet Mohammed a name for the devil. This is what the Concise Oxford Dictionary says it means: (archaic) Muhammad (regarded mistakenly as a god) [Middle English from Old French Mahun (Mahomet Muhammad]. Brewers Dictionary says: It is a name of contempt for Mahomet particularly in romances of the Crusades. Sometimes used as a synonym for the Devil.

When a writer uses the word Mahound alone, he proclaims a clear intent to write of the Prophet Muhammad in contemptuous terms. Rushdies book draws extensively on the Prophet Muhammads life and in terms that are scurrilous and reviling. Twelve women in Jahilias brothel are identified with the Prophets wives. His youngest wife, Bibi Ayesha to Muslims, receives particular attention. Quranic names abound. Well-known incidents in the Prophets life are caricatured.

On page 394, his death is described. The last words attributed to him are his thanks to a heathen goddess, Al-Lat. To a Prophet who said that the ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr are attributed these words (page 392): Writer and whores, I see no difference here. No words need be wasted on Rushdies reconversion to Islam, his refusal to stop publication of the paperback version of the book, his recantation of the reconversion, the Libyan episode and the rest. No literary merit can wipe out such a wrong. In the case of the cartoons and the film, even the pretence of literary merit is lacking. But what has emerged, in good Western tradition, is a candid justificationfreedom of speech comprises the right to insult. The issue is unambiguously clear and it must be faced squarely.

The Economist harked back to the 1990 essay The Roots of Muslim Rage by Bernard Lewis, tutor to Dick Cheney. It was not the West that was ignorant of Islam but others. Ignorance of the way the West works in many Muslim countries makes rabble-rousing easy (September 15, 2012). A week later it criticised President Mohamed Morsy of Egypt. He surely also knows that Western respect for free speech means that it is not always possible to prevent individuals from insulting Muhammad or, for that matter, Jesus or Moses or many other figures whom people hold sacred. A new set of insulting cartoons in France are also covered by free-speech laws. It was oddly ignorantor downright dishonestof the Brotherhoods spiritual leader, Mr Morsys close comrade, to say that denial of the Holocaust is illegal in the West: it is not in America, though in Germany, for obvious historical reasons, it is.

It is The Economist that is being dishonest. It knows or ought to know that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not protect group libel or hate speech. It ought to understand that denial of the Holocaust cannot be as offensive to Western minds as denigration of leaders of their faith is to Eastern minds (The Economists Secret, Le Monde Diplomatique, August 2012, an expose by Alexander Zevin, a historian at the UCLA).

American approach

Two of the more sober columnists of The New York Times help us understand the American approach. Nicholas D. Kristof wrote: Piss Christ, a famous photograph partly financed by taxpayers, depicted a crucifix immersed in what the artist said was his own urine. But conservative Christians did not riot on the Washington Mall. The Book of Mormon, a huge hit on Broadway, mocks the churchs beliefs as hocus-pocus. But Mormons havent burned down any theatres.

So why do parts of the Islamic world erupt in violence over insults to the Prophet Muhammad? Let me try to address that indelicate question, and a related one: Should we curb the freedom to insult religions that are twitchy? His column was entitled Exploiting the Prophet ( International Herald Tribune, September 24, 2012). The logic is perverse. Muslims who object to insults to the prophet Muhammad are exploiting the Prophet. He proceeds, predictably, to explain away the resentment by citing lack [of] a tradition of free speech. From his perch in London, Roger Cohen had a go with his hapennys worth. The Muslim world cannot have it both ways. It cannot place Islam at the centre of political lifeand in extreme cases political violencewhile at the same time declaring that the religion is off-limits to contestation and ridicule (September 22, 2012). The difference is cultural, between the East and the West, not religious. Even Indian Christians will resent and object to the words Kristof quotes. And contestation is not synonymous with ridicule.

At a rally in Karachi on September 30 against "Innocence of Muslims" and the publication in France of cartoons derogatory of the Islamic faith.-RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP

Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the Arab League, is a highly respected diplomat. He told the United Nations Security Council on September 26: If the international community has criminalised bodily harm, it might just as well criminalise psychological and spiritual harm. That is the central theme of this book by Prof. Jeremy Waldron of the New York University School of Law and Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College at Oxford. Hate speech inflicts harm.

The absolutist nature of the First Amendment is a convenient myth hugged by American propagandists. There is an apt expression in First Amendment jurisprudence: a time, manner and place qualification. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld convictions for group libels and for use of fighting words.

In Chaplinsky vs New Hampshire decided in 1942, the court unanimously enunciated a fighting words doctrine, under which certain personal insults were ruled wholly outside the Free Speech Clause. Such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality (315 U.S. 568 (1942)). That applies very much to insults to religion.

Group libel laws

As Oliver Wendell Holmes remarked, the law always lags behind public opinion and public opinion lags behind social necessities. Thomas I. Emersons classic The System of Freedom of Expression records the laws journey over time. In the United States group libel laws were once looked upon as a major weapon in combating racial and religious intolerance. During the period following World War II, in particular, they were strongly urged as a means of forestalling the growth of racism in this country such as had developed in Germany under Hitler. In more recent years they have received less attention. But calls are still frequently heard for the use of such laws against the continuous stream of hate propaganda that emanates from various sources in America. A number of other countries have experimented with group libel laws in one form or another. Recently Great Britain has turned to this device in hopes of aiding in the solution of its newly acquired race relations problems.

Group libel laws in the United States have taken various forms. Occasional efforts have been made to utilise ordinary criminal libel, breach of the peace, or disorderly conduct laws as group libel laws. But this has largely failed. Any serious attempt to control dissemination of hate propaganda clearly demands a specific statute directed to that end. At present such special statutes, some of them very limited in scope, exist in less than a dozen States.

The Supreme Court has dealt with a group libel law on only one occasion, in Beauharnais vs Illinois, decided in 1952. The Illinois statute made it unlawful for any person to sell or exhibit any publication which portrays depravity, criminality, unchastity, or lack of virtue of a class of citizens of any race, colour, creed or religion [or which] exposes the citizens of any race, colour, creed or religion to contempt, derision, or obloquy or which is productive of breach of the peace or riots.

Salman Rushdie. In September 1988, he told Shrabani Basu that "The Satanic Verses" was a " a serious attempt to write about religion and revelation from the point of view of a secular person". Some days later, he told N. Ram: "I wrote a fiction about a prophet similar to Muhammad."-PAUL HACKETT/REUTERS

Joseph Beauharnais, president of the White Circle League, distributed a leaflet in Chicago that called upon the Mayor and City Council to halt the further encroachment, harassment and invasion of white people, their property, neighbourhoods and persons, by the Negro. Calling for [o]ne million self-respecting white people to unite, it added: If persuasion and the need to prevent the white race from becoming mongrelised by the Negro will not unite us, then the aggressions rapes, robberies, knives, guns and marijuana of the Negro, surely will. At the bottom was an application blank for membership in the White Circle League. Beauharnais was convicted of violating the statute and fined $200. The Supreme Court affirmed by a vote of five to four.

Justice Frankfurter, speaking for the majority, treated the statute as a form of criminal libel law. He noted that all the States had criminal libel laws punishing libel of an individual and accepted the dictum in Chaplinsky vs New Hampshire that the libellous was one of those well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which has never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. The precise question before the court, he said, was whether the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevented a State from punishing libel directed at designated collectivities and flagrantly disseminated. He ruled: But if an utterance directed at an individual may be the object of criminal sanctions, we cannot deny to a State power to punish the same utterances directed at a defined group unless we can say that this is a wilful and purposeless restriction unrelated to the peace and well-being of the State.

On this, Justice Frankfurter had no doubt: Illinois did not have to look beyond her own borders or await the tragic experiences of the last three decades to conclude that wilful purveyors of falsehood concerning racial and religious groups promote strife and tend powerfully to obstruct the manifold adjustments required for free, ordered life in a metropolitan, polyglot community. From the murder of the abolitionist [Elijah Parish] Lovejoy in 1837 to the Cicero riots of 1951, Illinois has been the scene of exacerbated tension between races, often flaring into violence and destruction. In many of these outbreaks, utterances of the character here in question, so the Illinois legislature could conclude, played a significant part. Circumstances mould the law, mould the rights.

On the First Amendment, Justice Frankfurter said: Libellous utterances not being within the area of constitutionally protected speech, it is unnecessary, either for us or for the State courts, to consider the issues behind the phrase clear and present danger. Certainly no one would contend that obscene speeches, for example, may be punished only upon a showing of such circumstances. Libel, as we have seen, is in the same class. In Britain, the Royal Court Theatre cancelled the play Perdition in 1987 after pressure from Jewish bodies.

Waldrons book is by far the ablest contribution to an honest debate. He rejects the American view that the people who are targeted should learn to live with it. That is, they should learn to live their lives, conduct their business, and raise their children in the atmosphere that this sort of speech gives rise to. Often, in the American debate, the philosophical arguments about hate speech are knee-jerk, impulsive and thoughtless. It is a good refutation of the arrogant self-indulgent American self-perception of exceptionalism.

The cost of hate speech is not spread evenly across the community. It affects the section that is targeted. They are reduced to being social outcasts as the experience after 9/11 proves. However, the case made in the present book is about dignity, not offence. This is its fundamental flaw. It seeks to protect individual rights, ignoring their nexus with group rights.

This view is not shared elsewhere as the authors resume of legislation demonstrates. By hate speech regulation, I mean regulation of the sort that can be found in Canada, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom prohibiting public statements that incite hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace (Canada); or statements by which a group of people are threatened, derided or degraded because of their race, colour of skin, national or ethnic background (Denmark); or attacks on the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning or defaming segments of the population (Germany); or threatening, abusive, or insulting words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons on the grounds of the colour, race or ethnic or national or ethnic origins of that group of persons. (New Zealand); or the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, when these are intended to stir up racial hatred or when having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby (United Kingdom). As is evident, there are similarities and differences between these various instances of hate-speech regulation. Why does the U.S. revel in exceptionalism on the false premise of a First Amendment that permits no exceptions. Its Supreme Court itself has carved out the exceptions.

In a landmark case R. vs Keegstra (1990), the Canadian Chief Justice Brian Dickson said this about the effect that public expressions of hatred may have on peoples lives: The derision, hostility and abuse encouraged by hate propaganda have a severely negative impact on the individuals sense of self-worth and acceptance. This impact may cause target group members to take drastic measures in reaction, perhaps avoiding activities which bring them in contact with non-group members or adopting attitudes and postures directed towards blending in with the majority. Such consequences bear heavily on a nation that prides itself on tolerance and the fostering of human dignity through, among other things, respect for the many racial, religious and cultural groups in our society ( R. vs Keegstra (1990) SCR 697).

It was only from 1931, 140 years after its enactment, that the Supreme Court began enforcing the First Amendment. Prosecutions for attacks on Christianity faded away much more quickly than prosecutions for political speech. The logic of prosecuting atheists always sat uncomfortably with the American position on religion.

Waldron debates the issues with Anthony Lewis in impeccable taste. However, at the end of his book Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment (2007) Lewis wrote: In an age where words have inspired acts of mass murder and terrorism, it is not as easy for me as it once was to believe that the only remedy for evil counsels, in [Justice Louis D.] Brandeis phrase, should be good ones.

MUSLIMS DID NOT RESENT the French Marxist Maxime Rodinson's "Muhammad" or V.S. Naipaul's "Among the Believers".-

It was left to a book on the harm that unchecked pornography can inflict to demonstrate, by analogy, the havoc hate speech can wreak. The author himself refers to Catharine MacKinnons book Only Words (Harvard University Press, 1993). Her thesis is bluntly and tersely formulated: Speech acts. This subcontinent is well aware of that truth. She describes the deeper disgrace of a society saturated with pornography and the degradation that pornography depicts in the real and virtual-world neighbourhoods that it dominates. Some Indian television channels and the daily supplements of some newspapers are sleep-walking in that direction.

As the industry expands, this becomes more and more the generic experience of sex, the woman in pornography becoming more and more the lived archetype for womens sexuality in mens, hence womens, experience. In other words, as the human becomes thing and the mutual becomes one-sided and the given becomes stolen and sold, objectification comes to define femininity, and one-sidedness comes to define mutuality, and force comes to define consent as pictures and words become forms of possession and use through which women are actually possessed and used.

Construed as defamation in the conventional sense, pornography says that women are a lower form of human life defined by their availability for sexual use. Women are dehumanised through the conditioning of male sexuality to their use and abuse, which sexualises, hence lowers, women across the culture, not only in express sexual interactions.

Waldron remarks: Something of the same is true of racially or ethnically demeaning signs and posters which not only intimate an intention to discriminate in particular areas, but bespeak a whole mentality abroad in society that is incompatible with the aspiration of ordinary members of racial and religious minorities to live their lives in this society on the same terms as others. Of course there are differences.

Defamation

Both writers enter reservations on the full applicability of this theme to defamation as it is understood in law. Waldron shirks the conclusions yielded by his own powerful arguments. Individual Christians, millions of them, are entitled to protection against defamation, including defamation as Christians. But this does not mean that any pope, saint or doctrine is to be protected, nor does it mean that the reputation of Jesus is to be protected (as Mary Whitehouse tried to protect it in the Gay News case). By the same token, individual Muslims, millions of them, are entitled to protection against defamation, including defamation as Muslims. But that doesnt mean that the Prophet Muhammad is to be protected against defamation or the creedal beliefs of the group. The civic dignity of the members of a group stands separately from the status of their beliefs, however offensive an attack upon the prophet or even upon the Quran may seem.

This obfuscation smacks of intellectual sloth and reminds one of the great jurist Benjamin N. Cardozos aphorism: We may try to see things as clearly as we can, but we cannot see them with eyes other than our own. The author is too erudite and clear-headed not to notice the sweeping extravagance of a proposition that lumps any pope, saint or doctrine with the founders of the religion or one revered by it, for example, Shri Ramachandra Ji. It is absurd likewise to identify criticism with insult and vilification. Therein lies the core of the offence of libel or defamation. Section 499 of Macaulays Penal Code says in the very first of its four explanations: It may amount to defamation to impute anything to a deceased person if the imputation would harm the reputation of that person if living and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relatives.

Section 189 of the German Criminal Code also says the same thing: Whoever disparages the memory of a deceased person shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than two years or a fine. The logic applies to founders of religions: Zoroaster, Gautam Buddha, Moses, Jesus Christ and Muhammad. It cannot be stretched to cover regional heroes such as Chhatrapati Shivaji or Subhas Chandra Bose. Even in regard to religious figures, reasoned criticism is permissible. Scurrilous attack is not. It is reckless, irresponsible self-indulgence. Hence the strong censures on Rushdie by men such as Hartley Shawcross in Britain and Nissim Ezekiel in India. Roald Dahl called him a dangerous opportunist ( The Times (London), February 28, 1989).

Lawyers see no problem in drawing the line. Mohammed Ali Jinnah said in the Central Assembly on the Criminal Law Amendment on September 5, 1927: I thoroughly endorse the principle that while this measure should aim at those undesirable persons who indulge in wanton vilification or attack upon the religion of any particular class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion, we must also secure this very important and fundamental principle that those who are engaged in historical works, those who are engaged in the ascertainment of truth and those who are engaged in bona fide and honest criticisms of a religion shall be protected.

Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code makes deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India or insult to religion or religious beliefs essential to conviction of the offence it defines. In Ramji Lal Modis case (AIR 1957 S.C. 620), the Supreme Court upheld its validity and pointed out that it penalises only those who insult deliberately with that intention.

The House of Lords gave a definitive ruling on February 21, 1979, in the case of R. vs Lemon (AC 617 (1979) 2 WLF 281). Gay News had published a poem entitled The Love that Dares to Speak its Name, written by Professor James Kirkup, with an illustration of the crucifixion featuring the body of Jesus Christ in the embrace of a Roman centurion. The poem revoltingly described acts of sodomy with the body of Christ immediately after his death and, worse, attributed to him such practices with his apostles and others. All the judges agreed that it was an intentional and revolting blasphemy. Two of the Law Lords (Kenneth Diplock and Herbert Edmund Davies) held that the prosecution must establish an intent to blaspheme. The writer had been denied that opportunity.

The best judgment was produced by the most liberal judge of his times, Lord Scarman: I do not subscribe to the view that the common law offence of blasphemous libel serves no useful purpose in the modern law. On the contrary, I think that there is a case for legislation extending it to protect the religious beliefs and feelings of non-Christians. The offence belongs to a group of criminal offences designed to safeguard the internal tranquillity of the kingdom. In an increasingly plural society such as that of modern Britain it is necessary not only to respect the differing religious beliefs, feelings and practices of all but also to protect them from scurrility, vilification, ridicule and contempt. When nearly a century earlier Lord Macaulay protested in Parliament against the way the blasphemy laws were then administered, he added ( Speeches, page 116): If I were a judge in India, I should have no scruple about punishing a Christian who should pollute a mosque. When Macaulay became a legislator in India, he saw to it that the law protected the religious feelings of all. In those days India was a plural society; today the United Kingdom is also.

This is precisely what some European countries and some people in the U.S. are not prepared to accept vis-a-vis Muslims: a plural society which can accommodate people whose world view differs from theirs.

Referring to the U.K. legislation on race hatred, Scarman said: It would be intolerable if by allowing an author or publisher to plead the excellence of his motives and the right of free speech he could evade the penalties of the law even though his words were blasphemous in the sense of constituting an outrage upon the religious feelings of his fellow citizens. This is no way forward for a successful plural society.

The holocaust memorial in Berlin. Denial of a historical fact like the Holocaust is an offence in some countries because it hurts Jewish feelings and aids groups that hate Jews.-N. RAMAKRISHNAN

Scarman was a compassionate judge. He went so far as to accept that the accused had good motives: to comfort the gays and teach them that there was room for them in the Christian religion. But whatever be their motive, their intention was to depict Christ as they did. That was an offence in law.

Waldron shirks close analysis by sweeping remarks like this: Each groups creed seems like an outrage to every other group. He should be invited to visit Kerala where churches, temples and mosques stand close to one another. He, a believing Christian, says that he could not demand that Christianity is never contradicted or made fun ofthe distinction is lost on him. Consider the provisions of the Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Cybercrime signed on January 28, 2003, as a supplement to the convention of 2001. It says: For the purposes of this protocol, racist and xenophobic material means any written material which advocates, promotes, or incites hatred against any individual or groups of individuals based on race ethnic origin, as well as religion if used as a pretext for any of these factors. Incitement of hatred based on religion is an offence. Why are the Muslims targeted in Europe if not for political reasons? Why is denial of a historical fact like the Holocaust made an offence? Because (a) it hurts Jewish feelings and (b) aids groups that hate Jews. No libel is involved. Why cannot the law penalise insult to religion? Heavy sentences have been awarded for denial of the Holocaust in France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

However, Waldrons conclusion is striking in its clarity and deserves to be quoted in extenso: Modern defenders of free speech think that they have defused the problem of hate speech by making concessions under the headings of public disorder, incitement, or fighting words. But what we have seen from the Enlightenment philosophies is that public order means more than just the absence of fighting: it includes the peaceful order of civil society and the dignitary order of ordinary people interacting with one another in ordinary ways, in the exchanges and the marketplace, on the basis of arms-length respect. Above all, it conveys a principle of inclusion and a rejection of the calumnies that tend to isolate and exclude vulnerable religious minorities. [I]f we may openly speak the truth, said John Locke, as becomes one man to another, neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.

After citing two cases, the author writes: Both involved fundamental assaults on the ordinary dignity of the members of vulnerable religious minoritiestheir dignity, equal to that of all other citizens, as members of the society in good standing. Neither type of effect, nor the calumnies that gave rise to them, should be neglected by those who care about the integrity of a well-ordered society. They should certainly not be neglected just because they involve the power of speech.

The personality of the Prophet Muhammad is at the heart of the divide between the West and Muslims. One has to understand how much we love our ProphetAyyub Axel Kohlers remark reflects vividly the devotion Muslims the world over have for the Prophet Muhammad. A convert to Islam, Kohler is chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. Another German, one of the most erudite scholars of Islam, Annemarie Schimmel, wrote an entire book on the veneration of the Prophet in Islamic piety entitled And Muhammad is His Messenger.

The scholar Arthur Jeffery recalled that the Rector of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Sheikh Mustafa al-Maraghi, once told his friend, the Anglican Bishop in Egypt, that the commonest cause of offence, generally unwitting offence, given by Christians to Muslims, arose from their complete failure to understand the very high regard all Muslims have for the person of their Prophet. On this Annemarie Schimmel makes the perfect comment. The Sheikhs plaint hits the mark precisely. Misunderstanding of the role of the Prophet has been, and still is, one of the greatest obstacles to Christians appreciation of the Muslim interpretation of Islamic history and culture, indeed, of the Muslim mind itself, for more than any other historical figure, it was Muhammad who aroused fear, aversion and hatred in the medieval Christian world. The enormous services of Christian scholars such as Louis Massignon, Tor Andrae, Montgomery Watt, F.E. Peters and Karen Armstrong notwithstanding, 21st century Europe is not free from those demeaning emotions either.

Have you reflected on the plaudits that Muslim detractors of Islam receive? No one credits Irshad Manji or Ayaan Hirsi Ali with literary qualities or erudition. Yet Irshad Manji found a place in one of the finest American universities. Why did Lal Kishan Advani invite Rushdie and no other literary figure? In the 1960s there was one Hamid Dalwai in Maharashtra encouraged by the head of the Muslim Branch of the Police, V.V. Nagarkar. With his pronounced anti-Muslim bias, he found Dalwai a convenient tool. Dalwais writings had neither learning nor literary merit, only abuse of Muslims. There is another aspect to this story. Many a Muslim politician has acquired note by exploiting such writings. The community suffers and will continue to suffer as long as liberal Muslims do not speak candidly to them and to the West.

Modernisation of a Traditional Society is a slim but highly neglected work. It comprises three lectures delivered by the sagacious scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith in March 1964 at Sapru House in New Delhi under the auspices of the Indian Council of World Affairs. He was at pains to emphasise that modernisation did not mean Westernisation and criticised Western insularity and arrogance.

The fact is that the West has begun in only extremely incipient fashion to understand any civilisation other than its own. Perforce, it has tended to approach others in the terms that it has worked out for itself, and these are often inappropriate. The structure of a Western Faculty of Arts, for instance, is in my considered judgment and experience in need of serious rethinking and modification for this new period of Western history, in which its intellectual horizon has been suddenly broadened to transcend its own civilisation, within whose boundaries it has thought until yesterday.

To reconstruct our thinking here, we in the West shall need the help of intellectuals from the non-Western world, who understand enough of modern Western culture and thought to talk to us, and yet are intellectually strong and honest and creative enough to talk back to us, or rather to talk forward with usnot in repudiation or hostile debate, but in colloquium, towards the construction of new categories of thinking adequate to our new multicultural world.

Unless this advice is taken to heart, attacks on Islam will continue to be committed in the West and exploited by politicians in the East. The people, affected by grave problems of their own, stand up in violent rage in the belief that only violence will make the West listen.

The situation does not improve. The serial continues.

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