Review and comment on the first two chapters of the Nussbaum text The New Religious Intolerance.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Chapter One of Nussbaum's The New Religious Intolerance, the author examines the idea that until recently, the U.S. and Europe prided themselves on religious tolerance. She advocates the use of "critical self-examination" (page 2), inspired by the ethical philosophy of Socrates, to examine the ways in which the West...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In Chapter One of Nussbaum's The New Religious Intolerance, the author examines the idea that until recently, the U.S. and Europe prided themselves on religious tolerance. She advocates the use of "critical self-examination" (page 2), inspired by the ethical philosophy of Socrates, to examine the ways in which the West has become religiously intolerant. She mentions, for example, the way in which some European countries have banned the burqa without any reason related to security to do so. She notes that the United States has gone through periods of nativism, or anti-immigrant sentiment, but that we have worked through these periods and can do so again. She asks whether Europe will continue to embrace a nationalist idea of identity or whether they will embrace the ideal of being more open to people of different cultures. 

In Chapter Two, the author looks at the destructive effects of the emotion of fear. She notes examples in which people's fear of certain groups (such as the Nazis' fear of Jews) resulted from real fears about national and economic security that were projected through ignorance and fantasy onto a group that did not merit this type of fear. To control fear, she suggests that we first examine and understand the emotion and then look at other people with an attitude of respect for human equality. She also suggests that we do not use self-serving arguments that target another group for faults that are present in the majority culture. She examines the book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a book that falsely claims that Jews are trying to dominate the world. It was first published in Russia in 1903 and then disseminated by Henry Ford and the Nazis and is still in print today. She uses this example to unpack the biological and cultural roots of fear. She offers people a way to understand that their reactions are often motivated by fear instead of fact and reason. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team