Both secularist and liberal attitudes towards religion’s place in society have fuelled the controversy over the Danish cartoons, argues Isolde Charim. They overlook a sea change in the public sphere, where individuals increasingly “go public” with their private identities. The result is a “language of ethical demands”, which, in its ability to draw supporters and opponents alike, takes on a totalitarian aspect, writes Charim.
Historical myths new and old
Surrounding the anniversary of the end of WWII were arguments that national experiences are suffocated by the dominant discourse of the West. By implication, the memory of the Holocaust is a hegemonic discourse within the EU, rather than its binding principle. Here, it is not so much that national myths are suppressed, argues Isolde Charim, but that a new myth is in the making: that of victimhood divorced from political context.