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Nov 7


6:00 PM–7:30 PM


Should We Tolerate the Intolerant?

6:00 PM–7:30 PM    Maison Française East Gallery, Buell Hall

Panel Discussion:

Should We Tolerate the Intolerant?

A debate between Denis Lacorne and Bernard Harcourt, moderated by Sheri Berman

Rewatch the event here. In the increasingly divided political and social landscape that surrounds us today, the idea of tolerance seems to be more relevant than ever. Beyond the acrimonious debates on migration, hate speech, impeachment, or religious symbols in public places, the ideal of tolerance offers the vision of a social order that accommodates diversity while preserving common principles that bind citizens together. But are there limits to tolerance? Are there circumstances when free speech should be curtailed? What should be done when extremist voices threaten the very order tolerance is founded upon? How do social media and digital threats to privacy change the terms of the debate on hate speech and tolerance? What can history teach us about the conditions needed to build a tolerant society?

Denis Lacorne, Professor of History at Sciences Po and author of The Limits of Tolerance: Enlightenment Values and Religious Fanaticism (CUP, 2019), and Bernard E. Harcourt, Professor of Law and Political Science at Columbia University and author of The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens (Basic Books, 2018), will draw on their research and experience to debate what tolerance means today. The discussion will be chaired by Sheri Berman, Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia and author of Democracy and Dictatorship: From the Ancien Regime to the Present Day (OUP, 2019).

Event co-sponsored by: Maison Française, Alliance Program, Columbia University Press, the European Institute, CCCCT and the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life.

Denis Lacorne is Research Professor at Sciences Po, Paris with the CERI (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales). His books in English include Religion in America: A Political History (Columbia, 2011) as well as Language, Nation, and State: Identity Politics in a Multilingual Age (2004) and With Us or Against Us: Studies in Global Anti-Americanism (2005), both coedited with Tony Judt.

Bernard E. Harcourt is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of  Law, Professor of Political Science, Executive Director of the Eric H.  Holder Initiative for Civil and Political Rights, and Founding Director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought at Columbia University (CCCCT).  He has authored several books, including: The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens (Basic Books, 2018), Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age, Harvard University Press, 2015. He is editor of many works by Michel Foucault. Harcourt is also a directeur d’etudes at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales in Paris. Harcourt represented death row inmates in Montgomery, Ala., at what is now the Equal Justice Initiative, and continues to do so today.

Sheri Berman is a professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University.  Her research interests include European history and politics; the development of democracy; populism and fascism; and the history of the left.  She has written about these topics for a wide variety of scholarly and non-scholarly publications, including the New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and VOX.  She currently serves on the boards of the Journal of Democracy, Dissent and Political Science Quarterly. Her most recent book, Democracy and Dictatorship: From the Ancien Regime to the Present Day, came out earlier this year.

Should We Tolerate the Intolerant?