The Limits of Religious Tolerance: Scott Appleby on PBS

Historians in the News

ABERNETHY:...We get some perspective now on all this from Scott Appleby, professor of history at the University of Notre Dame and an expert on interfaith relations. Professor Appleby, welcome.

PROFESSOR SCOTT APPLEBY (University of Notre Dame): Thank you.

ABERNETHY: Anti-minority sentiment and actions in American history have not exactly been unusual. Is what’s going on now different?

APPLEBY: I think it is different in two respects. First of all, stories like this are immediate. They are broadcast right away, and we quickly hear not only the story itself but the echo of the story, what other people are saying about it. It takes on a life of its own. The second quality is the pervasiveness. It’s everywhere, that is to say, a story that has this kind of charge to it, by that I mean anti-Islamic feeling of whatever type, can be broadcast in a way and the media covers everything in such a way that someone who really doesn’t have a great standing or any expertise or knowledge but who wants to stir the pot, wants to get some attention wherever they may be from, can attract attention by pushing the envelope, doing something outrageous, and the cycle begins again. Another story, immediate echo, and we’re in the middle of a controversy....
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