The element of our society which pushes for complete tolerance of all people and all things no matter how weird (I am sure that is not the politically-correct word) and then violently protests against any opposing viewpoint is eroding any chance to stand on principle and make logical sense of public policy in our times. To be completely tolerant of everyone and everything is impossible, and also not desirable. There are simply things we should not tolerate. Don’t confuse this position by thinking I am advocating restricting freedom. Quite contrarily, people should be completely free to be as weird or as intolerant as they choose to be. However, don’t expect me or the other hundreds of millions of people in our country, that are neither weird nor intolerant, to go happily along down either of these paths. Some things are just too intolerant to be accepted and some things too weird to be tolerated. The key is standing on principles and making logical, rational arguments based in love and void of malice; the New Third Way.
We watch as this paradoxical, illogical comedy (though not a very funny one sometimes) plays out in many modern issues facing our country. There are recent examples on each side of the spectrum- the President’s executive order banning travel from certain nations on one side and on the opposite side of the spectrum is the executive order revoking the previous policy that transgender students could use bathrooms based on their choosing instead of on their biology. We will get to both issues and the hypocritical responses of the extreme tolerance argument for both.
Protestors demand that anyone attempting to come here from nations which may not be able to properly vet inbound visitors, be tolerated by Americans unconditionally. This position of accepting anyone that wishes to come here, either legally or illegally, no matter who they are or whether we can find out if they have any affiliation with terrorist organizations has many second and third order effects that directly undermines issues seemingly just as near and dear to the same extreme tolerance crowd. The reason Islamic terrorists hate us is because we, as a society, are so accepting of things like women’s rights, gay rights, religious rights, etc that the terrorists find completely, morally reprehensible and offensive. They believe their best recourse is to give their lives fighting for an “Islamic” Caliphate so they can rid the world of what they despise. In other words, they are completely intolerant of our way of life. These positions are a distortion of true Muslim teachings, you may say, and do not reflect the true nature of Islam. That may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are people trying to kill us in the name of Islam, even if they have a distorted view of their own religion. They want to kill us because we are not Muslim and because we promote tolerance for things that are, in their view, morally sinful. So, our response to them should be absolute tolerance? That is non-sense.
So what are the second and third order effects I mentioned earlier? By allowing people to enter our country via places that are unable to properly vet them, we are opening avenues for not only the good Muslims to enter, but also the ones that would like to kill us all for our “infidel” beliefs of freedom of religion, speech, and equality for all. Is it extreme for us to take a pause and review our policy in order to sort out a better way to be able to separate the good from the bad trying to enter our country from failed states? Or is it more extreme to protest, in the name of tolerance, a policy which seeks to keep out of our country people that would like to kill anyone that is tolerant of anything they do not perceive to be purely Muslim (even if they are mistaken in what it is to be Muslim)? This is an example of the overly intolerant side of the spectrum I mention in the first paragraph. There are people in the world so intolerant of our way of life we must act to stop them from coming here in the very defense of our nation’s tolerance.
At the same time, the extreme tolerance crowd is also fighting to allow students to use bathrooms of the gender with which they identify instead of their biological gender. This is on the opposite, overly weird side of the spectrum I mentioned earlier. Identifying as a gender that is opposite your biology is fine, but expecting others to accept that as something that is not weird and as a societal norm is not fine. How far can and should we allow this push toward gender identity to go? Can the student that is a biological male but identifies as a female play on the girls basketball team? That may give him an unfair advantage over the girls, which may further the gender gap…or would it? Can the person switch gender on a daily basis if that’s how they identify, after all who are we to say how that person feels on a given day? Why stop at gender, can a white male identify as an Asian female instead of a white female? If not, I don’t see why not. Race, like gender, may be something we simply identify as if we feel a certain way and are not actually born into. How could that affect affirmative action and race relations? I could go on and on, and in some ways would really like to, but I think you get the point.
The true crux of this extreme tolerance issue is the increasing tendency for half of our country to base their political positions on feeling instead of thinking. This is what leads to the absurdity above. Tolerance of other people and their ideas is generally a good thing. However, when taken too far in either direction the possibility exists that blind tolerance actually hinders true tolerance. Principles should instead be our foundation. Liberty, equality, and justice- these are the things worth fighting for. There is a tolerance aspect, but blindly tolerating anything is the same as tolerating nothing at all. Thanks for reading!