I know that Newhouse, who is brilliant and sassy (and, I can state from experience, treats writers perfectly) thinks she is making a case for pluralism. But she is not, except in the suffocating sense that Sophie Portnoy made the case for hygiene. Imagine that Quebec had actually voted for independence in 1995, and that Canada could do nothing about it. Imagine that, by 2005, the new state passed all kinds of laws that privileged people legally define as Quebecois--access to land in the Laurentians, for example--and that one feature of being Quebecios was being a member of the Catholic Church. Imagine, then, that political leaders in the St. Jean Baptiste Society, which had won the national election, began debating whether Hans Küng, or liberation theologians in Latin America, had the right to convert you to Catholicism. Now imagine you were a Montreal Jew like Mordechai Richler, or a Frenchman like Camus, for that matter, and what you would think of this debate--or, indeed, think about Catholic intellectuals in Paris who thought this was a serious question about pluralism?
"Neither the Jewish diaspora nor Israel can afford a split between the two communities — a dystopian possibility that, if this bill passes, could materialize frightfully soon," she writes. I see. Dystopia is an Israeli law that "splits," not a legal system that fails to protect the splinters. Anyway, I suspect future historians will have better things to do than wonder about the narcissism of people who think that their "people" is the only people in the world.