Dear Kamel,

A few days ago, a Tunisian friend sent me an op-ed that had appeared in Le Monde. The text bore the signatures of a number of academics I know. These academics are a bit bien-pensant* I admit, but even so they are not your enemies—at least they ought not to be your enemies. The tone of their letter bothered me. I didn’t appreciate its style of public denunciation, which, in its leftist puritanism, reminded me of the Soviet-era excommunications. And you must know that as your friend, I wouldn’t sign such a letter against you, even though I do not at all share the opinions that you expressed in your article in Le Monde and shortly thereafter repeated, even more vigorously it seems to me, in your editorial in The New York Times.

It is very difficult for me to imagine that you could really...

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