An uncompromising editorial in the Sunday paper Welt am Sonntag:
Zero Tolerance for the Enemies of Open Societies
By Otte, Romanus
Mosques, Muslims schools and churches are burning. More than 20 attacks motivated by religious hatred or xenophobia have been recorded by the police since the murder of Theo van Gogh, the filmmaker and critic of Islam, almost two weeks ago. A fanatic Muslim murdered van Gogh on a public street. Artists, politicians and human rights advocates who made remarks critical of Islam are now living under police protection. Many Moslems live in fear of revenge by xenophobic zealots.
The Dutch shock themselves. How could such a thing as a religiously motivated murder happen? Where did the hate that led to this deed by a single fanatic come from? Why did it happen, of all places, in The Netherlands, a society that of course considers itself among the most tolerant in the world?
The answer partially is, "Precisely because The Netherlands are one of the most tolerant countries in the world." A critical debate about what tolerance means has started in The Netherlands. This debate is both painful and long overdue – not only in Holland, but also, since that which happened to our neighbors could happen here at any time, here in Germany.
An explosive mixture has come to exist here just as in Holland. Its ingredients are the same: sub-cultures of fanatic Islamites, fanatic right-wing extremists, and fanatic left-wing extremists. More than anything else
it is the fact that a large number of young men in either society cannot see a future for themselves assures that extremism of all strips can find numerous recruits. And our societies call that tolerance.
This attitude, developed under a cloak called exemplary tolerance, is in fact a mixture of well-meaning illusion, disinterest, conflict aversion and self-hatred. There are examples of successful integration of immigrants in Germany, but there is also the development of dangerous segregation. Most recently we have seen encouraging examples of how our society has been economically and culturally enriched and of how our daily lives have improved thanks to immigration. But there are also the parallel worlds in which those immigrants who are not willing to integrate live. And amongst these there is a hard core of those who not only reject our society but are also prepared to actively fight against our values.
An open society is not a given. It must continually be nurtured and defended. Three conditions must be fulfilled if the open society is to survive:
The open society must confirm its values to itself. It must specify what its fundamental values are, which includes specifying the limits of tolerance – to make clear to all what we are not prepared to accept.
The open society must recognize that it has enemies and that these foes are positioning themselves at the fringes.
The open society must confront these enemies, it must differentiate among them and, where necessary, resort to an active defense.
We have moved from being a tolerant society into being an indifferent and – in many things - a permissive society. We allow, we accept, we acquiesce. However, this often means nothing except that we look the other way, we pretend it’s something it’s not or we merely avoid conflict. We profess tolerance, but we gut that concept in that we even allow those who would destroy our liberal ways. This "tolerance" comes from feelings of powerlessness and is actually a lack of self-confidence.
Germany and Europe must become aware of the canons of their values. These are founded in the Judeo-Christian religion. Europe’s greatest accomplishment in the cultural arena is the enlightenment. Its achievement is the creation of a liberal, tolerant Christianity whose values are generally shared non-religious Europeans. Amongst these values are respect for the individual, the inviolability of life and dignity, equality before the law and freedom from moral condemnation based on sex, religion or belief as well as each individual’s freedom to pursue happiness in accordance with his own lights.
It is high time that the enlightened societies, shaped by Christianity, become aware of the great value of their culture. There is a valuable European culture to guide us. Only by confidently understanding it can we become capable of consciously exercising and defending tolerance. Minorities must also accept Europe’s canons of values. At the same time the majority must credibly fight racism and prejudice in its own ranks. That the German majority is prepared to do this can be seen in its success in marginalizing both left-wing and right-wing radical parties and politicians.
Yesterday (Nov. 13), not far from Berlin, almost 1,000 neo-Nazis assembled in a military cemetery. That cannot be tolerated. Yesterday, in Berlin, almost 1,000 Islamites called for "Al Quds Day" hatred against Israel. That cannot be tolerated.
Tolerance is much too valuable to be sacrificed to convenience or to the enemies of an open society. These can only be combated under the motto: zero tolerance. (emphasis added)