From a speech given last month by Francois Hollande, the president of France, at a site from which French Jews were deported to the Nazi concentration camps:
We owe the Jewish martyrs of the Vélodrome d’Hiver the truth about what happened seventy years ago.
The truth is that French police—on the basis of the lists they had themselves drawn up—undertook to arrest the thousands of innocent people trapped on July 16, 1942. And that the French gendarmerie escorted them to the internment camps.
The truth is that no German soldiers—not a single one—were mobilized at any stage of the operation.
The truth is that this crime was committed in France, by France.
Hollande does himself and his country honor with this speech. He would do it even more credit by speaking and acting against Islamist bigots who threaten the Jews France still has. More:
We must never let our guard down. No nation, no society, nobody is immune from evil. Let us not forget this verdict by Primo Levi on his persecutors. “Save the exceptions, they were not monsters, they had our faces.” Let us remain alert, so that we may detect the return of monstrosity under its most harmless guises.
The tragedy in all this is that the effort to stamp out “monstrosity,” even “under its most harmless guises” can also lead to a fanaticism, and to evil. This is the lesson of the Inquisition. How difficult it is to learn to live with a certain amount of evil in human society, to protect society from even greater evils. I don’t know what a tolerable amount of prejudice looks like, but I do know that the effort to create a utopia free of all conceivable forms of prejudice will itself become monstrous.