The Competition of Victimhood

Salon today has an interesting interview with French philosopher (?) Bernard-Henri Levy about his new book Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against Barbarism. I’m not familiar with Levy, but after reading the interview I’d like to read some of his books. I like his take on the Left being too tolerant, particularly regarding religious fundamentalism (he attacks mostly Islamic Fundamentalists, but I would further extend this to Christian Fundamentalists, who, frankly, in my opinion, are more of a threat to Democracy than Islamists). I also really appreciated his take on Obama, and what it would mean to the United States for him to win:

I don’t love him, by the way. I wish him to be elected. It’s not a question of love or hate … This is not the best way to make politics.

Why Obama should be chosen, in my opinion: No. 1, because it would mean really the end — and the complete victory of the battle begun in the ’60s. No. 2, because it will mean the end of a new American evil, which is the dividing, the Balkanization of American society. This is another counter-effect of a great idea, which was tolerance. You so much tolerate that you tolerate the American society to be in separate bubbles having their own peculiarities, and so on. Obama as president will mean all these bubbles submitted to a real ideal of citizenship. This is his message. McCain will not be able to do this. If McCain is elected, I can tell you the Iranians will close themselves in the Iranian identity. The Arabs will coldly, freezingly imprison themselves in the Muslim identity. The African-Americans will believe that the American society is more and more built against them. You will have an increase of the Balkanization.

And No. 3, you have another ideal in the America of today, which I call the competition of victims. Competition of memories. If you are in favor of the Jews, you cannot be in favor of the blacks. If you remember the suffering of slavery, you cannot remember too much the suffering of the Holocaust, and so on and so on. The human heart has not space enough for all the sufferings. This is what some people say. Obama says the contrary. It will mean the end of this stupid topic, which is competition of victimhood.


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