Waging War Against Intolerance & Bigotry: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword

That famous statement was first written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.

Photo by Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com

In the play, Richelieu, chief minister to King Louis XIII, discovers a plot to assassinate him, but as a priest cannot use violence to defend himself.

Richelieu’s page, Francois, points out: “But now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord.”

Richelieu, agreeing, replies: “The pen is mightier than the sword... Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!”

I was reminded of this famous saying when reading a recent statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). It seems that when the Arabic word for “plan” was entered into Google Translate, “planning to blow up the car” was offered as an example phrase for how the word might be used.

24% of people in the world identify as Muslims, and it’s the fastest growing religion on Earth.

Google has since apologized and has said they’re taking immediate steps to fix the problem, but I can’t help but wonder: if Newsweek hadn’t brought it to their attention and CAIR hadn’t followed up, would Google have bothered to make an immediate correction?

The vast majority of people agree to rights like religious freedom in principle, but in the real world, such rights require dedication, constant alertness, and a constant willingness to expose deficiencies and injustices in our society to make them a reality.

24% of people in the world identify as Muslims, and it’s the fastest growing religion on Earth. By 2030, estimates suggest there will be 2.2 billion Muslims worldwide. By contrast, in the United States, just 1.1% of the population is Muslim, according to recent census polling.

Acceptance and support of new ideas and beliefs come first from understanding. Thanks to CAIR’s work, stereotypes that dehumanize and caricature the beliefs of billions of people are being removed from our cultural discourse, replaced by more compassion and greater literacy. That is only possible because of the strength of ideas and the willingness of smart, able, thoughtful people to wage war against ignorance, intolerance and bigotry—all with the pen rather than the sword. 

Wil Seabrook
Musician, writer, business owner, human rights advocate, aspiring Renaissance Man.