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FP: Earlier you noted how, with our classical and Jewish-Christian underpinnings, we have an intellectual tradition of being critical of ourselves and tolerant of others. Can you expand a bit on how this compares to the traditions of the Left and of Islam and what pathologies grow in the soil that doesn’t fertilize self-criticism?
Klavan: The problem is, when tolerant cultures and people meet the intolerant, there’s a danger of falling into what I think is sometimes called the “Tolerance Trap.” You know, where tolerance is used as a shield for oppressive or ugly actions. “We can behave like thugs and if you disapprove, why, you’re intolerant.” It’s using a high blown moral argument to mask and excuse immorality.
Take the Ground Zero Mosque. I mean, let’s face it: what an insensitive, cruel, rude and un-neighborly act it is to build a giant mosque just there. Yet they perpetrate this insult in the smarmy name of “bridge-building,” and if you oppose what’s essentially a kick in the teeth to the sensibility of any normal human being, you get the full self-righteous religious tolerance lecture from some preening government or media Bozo. But again, it’s a trap, a ploy. Religious tolerance isn’t even the issue. There’s no moral need to approve building a mosque near Ground Zero any more than you need to approve a man baring his backside at a gay pride parade to prove you’re not homophobic. Tolerance can only exist within some framework of moral and neighborly action. I know that’s tough to work out, but there’s no way around it.
FP: What are you going do with Empire of Lies? And do you think the young woman at Seuil is just following leftist dogma or might she be afraid for her life if the book gets too much attention?
Klavan: We’ll try to sell it to another publisher in France. We’ll see what happens. And by the way, while I can’t speak for the editor who canceled it, I strongly doubt she feared for her life. I think she feared for her own sense of virtue, poor thing.
FP: What is on your mind lately?
Klavan: Race and identity. I guess in some ways it’s been on my mind for a long time. But I’ve written this thriller,The Identity Man which is, let’s say, haunted by questions of race and identity. The book comes out this fall–November–and I’m trying to think of ways to talk about its themes. In case you’re wondering, this is a plug, by the way: it’s a really excellent thriller so I hope every single person reading this will go out and buy it.
FP: Share with us some of your plans.
Klavan: I’ve reached a point, frankly, where I’d like to do something really different, something I’ve never done before. A spiritual memoir maybe. Some kind of television show. Both maybe. I’m not sure. I have this terrible fear that I may cease to be before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain. Actually, now I think about it, John Keats said that and about ten minutes later he was dead. So maybe I should just shut up and keep typing.
FP: Always such a pleasure to speak with you Andrew Klavan. And to our readers, all I can say is: Buy The Identity Man when it comes out in November!
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