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Chomsky, Fukuyama and Atwood among the 150 intellectuals and artists who signed the manifesto against intolerance to the right or left

New York / About 150 intellectuals and artists, including Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem, Margaret Atwood, JK Rowling and Wynton Marsalis, on Tuesday expressed concern about “intolerance to the opposite perspectives, the fashion of public humiliation and ostracism” that it is gaining strength in the US, including the more progressive side of the political spectrum.

The signatories published in Harper’s magazine a letter applauding the “necessary reckoning” that is taking place after the anti-racist protests and the demands for equality and inclusion, but they also denounce that this “has intensified a new series of moral attitudes and political commitments “that weaken public debate.

“The free exchange of information and ideas, which are the vital sustenance of a liberal society, is getting narrower every day. Although we expected this from the radical right, the censorship is spreading more widely in our culture: intolerance towards perspectives Opposite, the fad of public humiliation and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues into blinding moral certitude, “they wrote.

Intellectuals point out that calls to impose “rapid and harsh retaliation in response to what is perceived as violations of speech and thought” are increasingly frequent, and argue that the “disturbing” is that institutional leaders are giving disproportionate punishment instead of thoughtful reforms. ”

“Editors are fired for publishing controversial pieces, books are removed for alleged lack of authenticity, journalists are prohibited from writing on certain topics, teachers are investigated for citing literature work in class, one researcher is fired for divulging academic studies reviewed, and the heads of the organizations are dismissed for what sometimes are just clumsy mistakes, “they explained

The signatories highlighted that the “forces of intolerance are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in (US President) Donald Trump, who represents a threat to democracy”, but they clarify that “they are not it must allow resistance to become its own kind of dogma or pressure, which demagogues on the right are already exploiting. ”

In this sense, they recalled that the restriction of the debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, harms those with less power and reduces the capacity for democratic participation.

“The way to overcome bad ideas is by exposing, arguing and convincing, not trying to silence or setting aside. We reject any false choice between justice and freedom, that one cannot exist without the other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room to experiment, take risks and even make mistakes, “they argued.

Finally, the intellectuals, among whom Francis Fukuyama, Salman Rushdie and Fareed Zakaria also signed, raised the need to protect the possibility of “disagreeing in good faith without (facing) harsh professional consequences”.

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