Islam in France

Editor’s Note: Originally delivered as a lecture at Institut Thomas More on November 6, 2019, this article appeared in the spring 2020 issue of the French quarterly Commentaire and is republished here with permission, translated by Daniel J. Mahoney and Paul Seaton.

The questions connected with Islam’s place in France are not only difficult to resolve, they are difficult to formulate. Islam is the most revealing case of our inability to come to agreement on the principles of our common life. If we don’t know what to do with Islam, this certainly has to do with the particular characteristics of this human association, but it is also because in general, as soon as it is a matter for common action, we simply don’t know what to do. The same problems therefore encyst and worsen, the same debates are repeated and drag on for decades in a demoralizing marasmus, whether the topic is Europe, education, or the place of Islam.

The paralysis that grips us owes to the fact that we approach these questions with divided minds and hearts. Instinctively or spontaneously, we desire to continue the trajectory of the old nation called “France” and therefore to vivify and consolidate the form of life that we can call our own. However, the increasingly imperious opinion that orients our words and our action presses us to go in a completely different direction, to reject the very idea of a common form of life that would be unique to us, and to bring it about that our country open itself impartially to all forms of life. The only common education would be an education in diversity.

Taking Islam Seriously

Now, Islam comes to us as a form of life, at once individual and collective, one that has strongly etched features, to be sure with its own internal diversity, but which by embracing in principle all the aspects of life and the entirety of the social body, largely ignores the separations which are so dear to us between the public and the private, the religious and the political.[1] While we oblige ourselves to relativize and present our “identities” (in the plural) with irony, Islam distinguishes itself among us by a compact identity that excludes irony and rejects all criticism. Confronted with this, we have decided that we will be ironists and relativists on their behalf. By boldly bringing Islam into the liberal secular arrangement, we gently, but irresistibly, will induce Muslims to take up toward their way of life and belief the distance that we congratulate ourselves for having taken toward our own way for such a long time now. In so doing, however, at the same time that we extol human equality and similarity, we look at Islam from above, not as a false religion or a less accomplished civilization, to be sure, but as a form of common life whose naive absolutism will soon be decisively moderated under the emancipatory effects of our liberty and our secularism (the much vaunted laicité in the case of France). This is the postulate that guides all of our dealings with Islam.

Therefore, desiring an Islam amenable to our secularism, we refuse to seriously consider Islam itself, to take the measure of the amplitude, profundity, vitality, and perseverance of this great religious, social and political fact.

We thus suppose that the liberal and secular arrangements that we subscribe to are both universal and irresistible. What we think that we must and can do, determines what we believe we see or can see. Therefore, desiring an Islam amenable to our secularism, we refuse to seriously consider Islam itself, to take the measure of the amplitude, profundity, vitality, and perseverance of this great religious, social and political fact. Analyzing it under the twin criteria of the archaic and the modern, criteria which Europeans present as the sole criterion of the true, the good, and the beautiful, from the outset we deprive the great Muslim fact of its specific force and power. We prefer to postulate that secularism, radically separating religion and politics, will guarantee that the presence of Muslims among us will change nothing substantial in our common life. In short, while we hold that Muslims are our fellow citizens and equals, they do not truly exist as social beings and as a political factor in our national life.

Now, an observation that is so elementary that it requires neither a telescope nor a microscrope allows one to see that Islam, in the diversity of its versions and expressions, has been animated the past fifty years by powerful movements that have transformed the Muslim world and exercise a rather forceful pressure on certain parts of the non-Muslim world. Whether one takes note of the Iranian revolution, Turkey’s ambitions, the Gulf countries’ ability to influence affairs, or the migratory waves headed toward Europe, everything indicates that Islam is in a period of expansion. Now, people will reproach me for unforgiveable naivété in bringing these different phenomena together and placing them under the common heading of “Islam.” However, the political perspective is indeed “naive,” because it believes what it sees, and what it sees is first of all the strength and direction of human associations. For the one with open eyes, it is impossible not to see that the Muslim world exercises an ever increasing pressure on a Europe that, for its part, is so weak that it makes it a point of honor of defining itself by indefinite openness to what is outside itself.

The specific character of the Muslim question for the French people, including of course our Muslim fellow citizens, owes first of all to the close intertwining and reciprocal dependence of the interior and the exterior, of what is inside and outside of France. The difficulties of what is so complacently called “co-existence” would obviously be much easier, and would stir fewer passions and anxieties, if the Muslims of France did not also, and at the same time, participate by their loyalties and a variety of ties in that much larger Muslim world whose number, youth, and restlessness are a major factor of the contemporary world. Established in Europe, or in the process of establishing themselves here, Muslims are not “human beings in general,” not simply Tocquevillian “fellow human beings,” but real and concrete human beings who have received a certain education, and who with greater or lesser conviction want to preserve their form of life in the society that receives them. Everyone knows that the Turkish president Erdogan has the habit of exhorting citizens of Turkish origin in Europe not to assimilate to European life. The effects of this exterior pressure and dependency can be measured, among other things, by the difficulty that the Muslims of France have in organizing themselves, divided as they are by their loyalties to different countries of origin or reference. These effects are also seen by the constant extension of the parts of our country where Muslim customs are established over the entirety, as it were, of the public space, since women are visibly excluded from it.

Secularism and Separation

What practical consequences can one derive from these very elementary observations? The first and principal one is not to task secularism with an impossible mission. I do not share the confidence a very active segment of opinion places in a strict application or strengthening of secularism. To my eyes, this confidence rests on a double error. On one hand, following the tendency of what one might call contemporary “governance,” one supposes that putting in order common life consists in imposing the right rule, that is, a general principle applicable to every social matter, whether it be “free and undistorted competition” or secularism itself. On the other hand, and as a consequence, one adds the argument that is intended to end the debate, namely, that secularism can and will accomplish with Islam what was accomplished with the Catholic church by the law of 1905.[2] This is an argument whose widespread acceptance astonishes me, given how much it misunderstands the differences not only of the religions in question (about which I will say nothing here), but, first of all, their quite different social and political contexts. In the original context of French secularism, it was a matter of separating as rigorously as possible two authorities, the political and the religious, which had been intertwined in a thousand ways over the course of centuries, and to sideline or circumscribe a religious influence that belonged to the most intimate core of French life. Today, on the contrary, the urgency is to associate in French life a human association, Islam, that remained external and foreign to it over the course of centuries, and whose relations with our country have often been marked by a mutual hostility whose traces are far from erased. In the past, it was a question of reforming the organization of a common life that was closely intertwined by means of an unprecedented separation; today it would be a matter of producing a common life by overcoming a very old separation that remains particularly strong—at least if one looks at things with a dose of candor and sincerity.

…an important part of the Muslims of France is established in separation from common life, and does not seriously wish to put an end to it. If they wanted to put an end to it, they would not see in the slightest criticism—in the slightest request, however reasonablea sign of “Islamophobia.”

At the beginning of this talk I noted that we begin from the hypothesis or postulate that, in order to welcome as well as possible our new citizens, Muslim or other, we must lighten as much as possible the weight and thickness of the common or public thing (la chose commune), we must avoid anything and everything that implied a particular attachment to what is distinctively ours, to abjure any preference for our form of life. In the new citizen we have only wanted to see “man in general,” “the one like us,” and therefore we have thought to display a welcoming indifference to his form of life, a way of life to which, after all, he had the right. The result was inevitable: to the extent that we emptied our common substance, allowed it to become a “wasteland,” it was filled with the form of life to which the new citizens were naturally attached. In the name of secularism, of laicité, interpreted quite strictly, courts removed or prohibited crosses, crèches, and other signs or expressions of the Christian religion in our country while, as I just recalled, entire swaths of national life took on a Muslim form in a most visible way. Far from bringing us closer together, each day we increasingly distanced ourselves from the common life shared in the equality we presumed to aim at.

It is true that many of our Muslim fellow citizens take part without any reticence in national life and they make a contribution that certainly compares with that of non-Muslims. This fact, however, which one must never forget, unfortunately changes nothing in this other fact, namely, that an important part of the Muslims of France is established in separation from common life, and does not seriously wish to put an end to it. If they wanted to put an end to it, they would not see in the slightest criticism—in the slightest request, however reasonablea sign of “Islamophobia.” It is sad to say, but we will not take the slightest step in the direction of civic friendship if Muslim opinion, at least that which is expressed in the name of Muslims, puts its energy in denouncing what it calls “Islamophobia” rather than effectively combating the excesses or pathologies of Islam that ought to repulse Muslims themselves.[3] Even the most murderous and brutal assaults have not stirred French Muslim opinion from its passivity or inertia.

A Common National Life

We are bogged down in a situation that offers little latitude for action, and which is tending to grow worse. “Liberal secular opinion,” the option for laicité, rests on an erroneous interpretation of our history, an inadequate analysis of the present situation, and an obvious overestimation of the powers of legal interdiction in a regime committed to the continual extension of authorizations and freedoms, including the most aberrant ones. One must take stock of the fact that an important part of our fellow citizens follows the Muslim form of life, and that the law has little direct power over this reality. I said this in 2015, I repeat it today.[4] This does not mean that one can let this Muslim part grow indefinitely. That is not possible. First of all, it would be to very unadvisedly encourage those who already consider us weak and cowardly, who think we only know how to retreat when fighting. Next, it would be the worst signal to send to the Muslims of France who do not entertain hostility toward European life, or who even find their flourishing in our country, who, I don’t doubt, are very numerous. It would be the worst signal to them to allow these areas to spread where the Muslim form of life reigns alone, and supreme. It would be to tell them that the country where, despite everything, they have chosen to live lacks the strength to give itself a form of common life, and that the future that awaits them runs the strong risk of returning them to the life that they have left behind.

If, in order to preserve the possibility of a peaceful and amicable life, one wants to prevent the extension of Islam, it is also indispensable to strictly limit the amount of immigration that is allowed. Muslim citizens and non-Muslim citizens cannot live in mutual confidence unless both are assured that our country, while making a just and honorable place for its Muslim citizens, does not become a Muslim country. The decisions to take in this regard are even more urgent as the immigation question has seen the most consequential application of the social philosophy that I sketched at the beginning. This philosophy says that political justice consists in impartially, or indifferently, opening the public space to all forms of life, without any limit. It is political decisions, more than “general rules,” that give form to common life. The political decisions I envisage, very important in themselves, will be even more so since they would be the first decisions taken in a long time in view of, and out of concern for, our common life as a people and nation.

By fixing the portion and place of French Islam to the limits that it has attained today, we can accomplish two goals that are equally important and urgent. Vis-à-vis the exterior, the outside, we can put an end to the pressure that, coming from States or the movements of populations, forces Europe to take decisions that are not its own; vis-à-vis the interior, our internal or common life, we regain the all-important awareness of the fact that the components of the republic are not only rights-bearing individuals, but groups or associations, temporal and spiritual, with distinct customs and ways of life, whose equilibrium one is obliged to preserve. Only in this way can we provide a form of common life in which all, including our fellow Muslim citizens, can recognize themselves.

Translators’ Notes

[1] For a luminous discussion of the crucial place of “separations” in the liberal order, see Pierre Manent, A World beyond Politics?: A Defense of the Nation-State, translated by Marc LePain (Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press, 2006), pp. 10-20.   

[2] For a fuller discussion of the limits of doing to Islam what the draconian French separation of Church and State did to Catholicism in 1905, see Manent, Beyond Radical Secularism: How France and the Christian West Should Respond to the Islamic Challenge, translated by Ralph C. Hancock, Introduction by Daniel J. Mahoney (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2016), pp. 18, 60-62, 101. The book originally appeared in French in 2015 as Situation de la France.

[3] For more on the pernicious role played by the category of “Islamophobia,” see Manent, Beyond Radical Secularism, pp. 51, 74-75.

[4] This is a central theme of Beyond Radical Secularism.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on April 01, 2020 at 08:18:03 am

Unfortunately, I think secular France is now realizing that Islam will not integrate with it. Humanism is ingrained as a philosophy of life in secular France. And in that philosophy it is arrogant and elitist. Where man is the beginning and end of the secular belief, one presumes that all men seek a common good and will work together to accomplish fraternity. This elitist mentality has produced a unique French faux pa.
Islam is not the Catholic Church. Islam is an encompassing, determined political- religious identity contained within differing sects. Islam will not endure coexistence with what it believes is an evil culture. Islam’s core belief is conquest by any means necessary.
Christianity, at its core is a belief system based on invitation. In times past it adopted an imperious conquest oriented screed placed over its foundation in an attempt to create a monolith. This started with Constantine, when by decree he declared that every person under his dominion was a Christian. One did not have to personally believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God; one was baptized as an infant or drafted by consensus and became a de facto member of the church.
As a result the Roman Catholic Church became a crumbling cathedral consisting of a clergy and a congregation, consisting generally, of pagans who had no commitment to a faith that they did not believe. The Church of Jesus Christ became a religious oriented corporation whose only function was to perpetuate itself.
A congregation and a clergy with no real commitment to faith in Jesus Christ became easy prey during the French Revolution. Humanism erupted from the corruption of the antichrist Renaissance, where man was declared to be the center of life, and Christ irrelevant. And as a result, Christianity was a victim of the guillotine.
I believe that the God which humanism rejected, allowed the humanists to be seduced by the firm conviction that man’s reason would resolve all conflicts. And in that belief France invited the Islamist camel into their inclusionary tent. That tent is now being torn, ripped apart and shredded by a belief system which despises the beliefs of humanism. And, I predict that Islam will consume you in a funeral pyre of your own making if you do not excise it from your midst.
Islam will not crumble as did faux Christianity. If you want France to remain secularist, you will have to fight Islam, as Europe did in the Battle of Vienna. But I do not believe that you will engage in that battle. You have nothing with which to fight! In denying Christ you have surrendered your only source of belief that would produce the courage that would enable you to not only endure but to win.
Unless France returns to God, France will cease to exist, and reason will not save it from Islamic assimilation.

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Dennis Orr
on April 01, 2020 at 08:18:54 am

Islam and Christianity will never merge. Muslim's cannot co-exist with jews or christians. Their religious beliefs are fundamentally different. Muslims born in France or who have migrated to France accept their new country and all it has to offer in exchange for citizenship. Refugees are different because they are searching for a better life for themselves and their families. Most come from war-torn countries and are willing to accept another country's rule of law and culture. They do it to get work, to buy a home for their families and to give their children a start in life. They must choose to either accept a new religious belief or retain their traditional Islamic faith. That decision should not be made under pressure from imam's, mullahs or scholars threatening their livelihood and well-being. The host country however must always apply the rule of law as it applies in a democratic society.

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D Morrell
on April 01, 2020 at 08:45:52 am

Reading Manent one is sometimes forced to exclaim, "Would you just get to the point?"

This essay is typical-Manent. It needlessly intellectualizes its foundation, which is that France has two cultures, a secular host culture devoid of the will to defend its identity and an invasive, expansive religious culture unwilling to alter its separate identity while seeking control over its host. Tell me something I did not know! And do it in 50 not 1000 words.

Then Manent extends the verbal process of getting to his very short but only essential point:
"If, in order to preserve the possibility of a peaceful and amicable life, one wants to prevent the extension of Islam, it is also indispensable to strictly limit the amount of immigration that is allowed."

And that last point, also a mere statement of the obvious, is the only relevance of Manent's discussion of Islam in France to America's civil strife over immigration.

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on April 01, 2020 at 10:13:01 am

The author talks a lot to say a little. He should try the other way around.

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José Meireles Graça
on April 01, 2020 at 13:06:26 pm

OMG, right? Like, Just Do It, You Be You, Vive La France, Allahu Akbar, I Think Therefore Whatev, Love = Love, Born This Way, WTF, Jesus Sobbed, LOL!

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Carl Eric Scott
on April 01, 2020 at 10:30:18 am

Needlessly rambling, as Paladin says. And not coherent as it dances around the fundamental question of individual rights.

I find myself thinking “French secularists and Muslims can still find common ground in killing the Jews.” Note the French refusal to prosecute a young Muslim who murdered an elderly Jewish woman because he had smoked marijuana so not responsible.)

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Charles N. Steele
on April 01, 2020 at 12:55:47 pm

Earlier comments embarrass themselves by accusing Manent of rambling or finally saying little. Talk about missing the point! Because Pierre is not saying what you expect or taking a side you already recognize, you fail to follow what is a lucid, compact argument, and one based on seeing clearly things that are right in front of our noses, not on pre-fab ideological categories. There is no more direct, no-nonsense, bracing and lucid author than Manent, and this piece is certainly not an exception. In particular, Manent has thought through the interface of Christianity and politics more thoroughly, and with more direct and faithful attention to our real moral-political situation than any author on earth. Take a deep breath and try re-reading, really reading, not looking for anything that might feed your vanity or indignation.

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Ralph C. Hancock
on April 02, 2020 at 07:56:59 am

Mr. Hancock, you are at least right that Manet relies on no “pre-fab ideological categories,” although I think they are better called moral principles. He pits two sets of what are effectively tastes against each other and laments they can’t dovetail. That’s it. And he rambles

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Charles N. Steele
on April 01, 2020 at 13:13:23 pm

Writer Manent imagines that somehow Islam can be held to the percentage of the population that it occupies at present, but in fact that is impossible. Indigenous French birthrates are extremely low, while Muslim birthrates are very high, and immigration continues. He also completely ignores the fact that Muslims are commanded by the Koran to conquer the rest of the world, and to attack infidels in order to achieve that goal. They will never assimilate, but will place ever increasing pressure on the rest of French society until they have taken over, and everyone else has submitted to their rule. Non-Muslim French are already submitting to the Muslim minority in a variety of ways, including supporting them financially, and refusing to criticize their excesses out of fear of violent reprisal. The European civilization of the past 2,000 years is dying as we watch. Within the lifetime of children living today, Islam will rule much of Europe. Manent can't imagine that he is part of a dying culture.

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on April 01, 2020 at 13:33:49 pm

This is an extremely powerful essay arguing that multi-cultural and “equality” cannot, at least in secular France, co-exist. In an odd way, it is also then an argument that the extreme secularism that the French thought they were practicing as a core of their common identity and way of life must change in the face of pressure from Islam and France's Muslim citizens. The “bow and arrow” of radical Enlightenment secularism needs to give way to something stronger. It is the paradox of “I’m tolerant of everything but intolerance.” The absence of strong convictions is insufficient in the face of a critical mass of those with strong convictions. The liberal concept of “equality” as the source of justice and a common way of life is exposed as a subterfuge for the lack of substantive convictions. One needs substantive convictions to live and living is a group activity that requires common convictions that shape and govern, to some significant extent, how we live. Radical individualism is also a variant of a tolerance based on an “equality of all.” Everybody needs to be free to live however they wish. Tolerance requires some underlying requirements. It is a secondary value not a primary one; pretending that is doesn’t change the reality.

Thus Manent is a very effective and important counter to secular liberalism, especially the extreme version that is prevalent in France. It is, however, also one-sided and static. Both Muslims and non-Muslims are being changed by a significant and visible presence of Islam and a Muslim way of life. Non-Muslims are becoming less tolerant of many practices prevalent in how Muslims live. Muslim intolerance of others and their treatment of women being obvious examples.

It may be more important to focus on what is going on in the world of Islam in France. Muslims are in France because they, at least implicitly, see something lacking in how Muslims govern. This failure of the practical realities of Muslim governance covers a wide range of activities: war, peace, prosperity, opportunities of average citizens, treatment of women, the poor and minorities, the role of research, science and medicine, higher learning, etc. The first reaction may well be to be even more aggressive in adhering to Islam. But the seeds of doubt and the need for, at least, major reforms are enduring. Refugees from Muslim countries do not seem, in significant numbers, to flee to other Muslim countries. That is for a reason of some profound significance.

Under the Ottomans, sharia law — governing how Muslims should live — dictated that Muslims were obligated to live under Muslim governance, with few exceptions. One was if the sultan sent you as an envoy to a non-Muslim country. Another exception was if your live was directly threatened. That makes a great deal of sense: living in a non-Muslim regime undermines the ability to live according to Islam. It certainly makes it more difficult and, implicitly, allows for doubts to creep into the minds of Muslims. Alternative ways of life often have attractive elements. From a Christian perspective it should open up a host of opportunities to “preach the Gospel” that is far more difficult in Muslim-governed countries.

Perhaps more interesting is what will be the influence of Muslims living and prospering under non-Muslim governance, the Muslim diaspora. There is a considerable intellectual turmoil among Muslims in the West. Christianity is one challenge, even when latent to a large degree. A great cathedral is a thing of beauty. So is Bach’s music. So is even a watered-down Christian way of life. Some Muslims will leave Islam. Some will be deracinated and hostile, even prone to violence. Some will convert to Christianity and the mild, semi-christianized secularism. Some will find there way to advocate a differentiated Muslim way of life. Jews have navigated this challenge for centuries, when they had no real alternatives. Now, with the existence of Israel, they have an implied choice: some have chosen to move to Israel and many others have not.

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Robert Schadler
on April 01, 2020 at 13:38:16 pm

Too late. Mainly because people like the author, talked instead of acted.

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Tommy Tee
on April 01, 2020 at 14:04:42 pm

So, in a nutshell, Muslims do not want to be like anybody else and won't rest until everybody is like them. And they are intolerant.

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on April 01, 2020 at 14:59:10 pm

Ralph Hancock and Robert Schadler said it all. Radical secularism assumes the absence of a shared way of life and confuses a free society with "an empty space" devoid of any conception of a shared history or way of life. It is paradoxically unable to stand up to radical Islam because it stands for nothing other individual rights and a systematic disregard for the "substantive convictions" that allow every society, including a free society, to be more than a conglomeration of individuals. Secularism, yes, and the fundamental liberties of a free society. But the West is more than a relativistic open space: To use Manent's expression, France must be a "nation of a Christian mark" (not a Christian nation) if it is not to be swallowed by a people in no way devoid of a common purpose. This is a "politics of the possible," equally at odds with radical secularism and a policy of simple belligerance toward French Muslims.

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on April 01, 2020 at 16:54:00 pm

More simply put....good luck with that....

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on April 01, 2020 at 19:40:28 pm

France is heading for a civil war. Bon chance.

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on April 01, 2020 at 19:53:23 pm

What a terrific essay. Lots and lots of deep wisdom here, maybe most especially in this clause near the end: "...we regain the all-important awareness of the fact that the components of the republic are not only rights-bearing individuals, but groups or associations, temporal and spiritual, with distinct customs and ways of life, whose equilibrium one is obliged to preserve." This is one articulation of the task for any liberal statesman today!

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Flagg Taylor
on April 02, 2020 at 08:01:15 am

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Mr.Flagg: “but he fiddled so beautifully. And in French!”

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Charles N. Steele
on April 02, 2020 at 03:26:22 am

Many of the harsher criticisms of Manent's outstanding piece is over its style and level of presentation. Given the more classical liberal and libertarian law and ecomonics oriented of character of the Blog, one expects the readership to be of the no nonsense analytical direct to the point and cut the frills type such people have. They reacted as they did because they disliked the way and style Manent made his argument Yet the problem here is tied with the initial language of delivery, and the fact that different languages with their different rules of grammar and way each language works produce differing ways one beautifully delivers what one is seeking to say. Manent's writes in French and writes in French majestically. A good translator seeks to catch both not what was said but also how it was said. And Manhoney and Sutton did that beautifully, as having read this originally in the French, I can attest. Yet French style is alien and excessive to the the economic linguistic mindset framed in the economic, plain and direct English one sees in a public policy paper and lae brief. To that mind what Manent says just comes off as to high falutin and fancy, looking more like a fantastic French pastry and noting like the saltine cracker they are used to.

As to substantive criticism, one can think Manent as too optimistic. Here Manent, who is a conservatively inclined liberal who is also a thoughtful Catholic as well, seeks to offer a alternative to either the nieve and dangerous neoliberal internationalist mindset that frames all too many of the elites within Europe and most of the West and the dark and bitter black-pilled reaction of the people's who have been negatively impacted by the disasters the former's policies and rule have produced. From the prospective of the salt-cracker crowd what Manent says here and holds out hope for is as sweet and fancy as the style in which he says it.

This is my take on the character of the reactions to Manent'every thoughtful and thought provoking piece, so açcurately and failfully translated by Manhoney and Sutton. LAW & LIBERTY editors ought to be commended bringing such quality voices and thinkers to a much wider audience.

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Clifford Angell Bates, Jr
on April 02, 2020 at 06:23:35 am

Ah the sins of writing things via a smartphone with its autocorrect and not on a proper keyboard and the ability to edit posts. Please forgive the mistakes... I would re-edit, but alas the board does not allow that.

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Clifford Angell Bates, Jr
on April 02, 2020 at 08:11:49 am

No problem, Cliff. Your meaning - and wit - came through quite nicely. Thanks for the apologia Manentis.

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Paul Seaton
on April 02, 2020 at 19:28:10 pm

September 11, 2001 was a wakeup call for me. 9-11 forced me to study why the West managed to leave the Medieval culture behind and the Islamic world did not. Now, it seems that the world is split between the still more or less civilized West and the Islamic world.
The two great Muslim philosophers most responsible for today’s world are: al Ghazali (1058-1111) who lived in Teheran, Persia and Averroës (1126-1198) who lived in Cordoba, Moorish Spain.
Al Gazali, the Poet, understood that reason is a threat to faith. He understood that faith would diminish into insignificance if you permit reason. It is not faith and reason, but faith or reason and al Gazali threw-out reason. That is why the Muslim world is stuck, to this day, in the Dark Ages. Averroës, the Commentator, on the other hand, believed that faith and reason could coexist each in their own realm of the natural and the supernatural, the secular and the sacred.
Averroës wrote commentaries on Aristotle. These commentaries made their way to European universities. The rediscovery and study of Aristotle’s ideas started the Renaissance in the 14th century which was followed by the Enlightenment in the 18th century and the birth of America in 1776; and now, coming full circle, our deathly conflict with the Muslim world.
What we are witnessing now is that the Muslim world, kept back in the Dark Ages by al-Gahzali, is going to subjugate the Western world made possible by Aristotle and his commentator Averroës. Strange is it not?
This Muslim resurgence is possible because they believe strongly in the words of their Prophet Muhammad (570-632), whereas we now take pride in being skeptics, in believing in nothing; especially not Western Civilization. We believe in "Multiculturalism" which is the dogma that all cultures are "equally valid" – except, of course, for Western culture, which is condemned as oppressive and "imperialistic."
Too me September 11, 2001 served as the final refutation of Multiculturalism, because it demonstrated perceptually that our culture produces skyscrapers, while Muslim culture produces homicidal maniacs who blow them up.
Reason will again returns to our culture, when Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, (read the book by that title) spreads throughout our culture. We need a second Renaissance and rediscover what made 1776 possible.

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Adri Kalisvaart
on May 07, 2020 at 06:26:59 am

[…] question of Islam’s compatibility with classical liberalism is contentious. Pierre Manent’s essay republished by Law & Liberty discusses this controversy regarding Muslim integration in […]

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