by Shadi Hamid
It is an unexpected consolation that the Trump era, while offering unusually severe levels of polarization, has also produced fascinating, even groundbreaking writing on the difficulties of living in a diverse, plural society. I believe that diversity is a good thing, but many of my fellow Americans seem to disagree.
This diversity skepticism might be problematic in moral terms, but it is not entirely unfounded. Early on in the new book Out of Many Faiths, the Muslim interfaith leader Eboo Patel notes that “the higher the diversity, the more people distrust their neighbors and the less they volunteer and give to charity.” So, whether or not we like it, diversity has become a “problem” that at the very least demands more creative ways of thinking and acting. The central task of Patel’s book—and the three welcome commentaries that accompany it—is to ask how we might move from mere diversity to a deeper pluralism and to understand the role that religion can play in the process. Diversity, Patel writes, “is simply a demographic fact; pluralism is a hard-won achievement.”
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