Tolerance or War
In his political commentary for Project Syndicate, David Shinn reviews the current situation of suppression of minority groups, whether they are based on religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender.
“The abuse of minorities, and reactions to it, often are linked to fault lines in conflicted societies. Minorities tend to experience economic inequality and political marginalization. This negative trend shows no sign of waning. While international treaties, national laws, more and stronger institutions, improved education, and efforts by organized religious groups to foster respect for minorities can help to ameliorate the problem, collective efforts have so far fallen woefully short…Moreover, globalization and instantaneous communication technologies have made it impossible to contain conflict within national borders. Domestic economic and political grievances can now buttress discontent across regions and continents.”
In many countries, authoritarian governments threaten the status of minorties, and democratic reform may help resolve tensions in society. However, in the countries that have undergone revolution during the Arab Spring, the changing minds of leaders like Mohamed Morsi in Egypt may provide some relief for minorities.
“Democratic governments are often perceived as more respectful of minorities, given that, unlike autocratic regimes, a democratic system with an elected legislature, independent judicial system, strong civil society, and free press provides citizens with opportunities to express their views and pursue justice. But, while democracies do have a better record of protecting minorities, a democratic system does not guarantee respect for minorities any more than autocracy ensures their repression. An enlightened autocrat can be just as protective of minority rights as a solidly democratic government.
That said, when it comes to respecting minority rights, democracies have a far better record than autocracies. This is one of the main reasons why, throughout history, democracies have rarely fought each other.”
To read the full article, go here.