Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Great Flaw of Tolerance

Western culture has for some time now blurred the distinction between freedom and tolerance. The problem is that when open and free societies begin to think freedom means tolerating all opinions, they are threatened with losing the very freedoms they are defending.

This is the way it works: say you found a city that holds as its highest value the toleration of all beliefs and customs. Then imagine that you allow (as a part of the doctrine of tolerance) some white supremacists to move into your town. Sure, they do not tolerate non-whites, but you are bigger than that. You tolerate their intolerance. Before too long, they invite all of their white-supremacist friends to live in your town and suddenly the majority of the town is made up of white supremacists. It is no longer a town that values tolerance; it is a town that does not tolerate!

This is what is happening to western culture, especially in Europe. Postmodern culture, in its attempt to honor its highest ideal of tolerance, is allowing more and more people from a culture that by definition is intolerant, to move into their society. The problem is that they do not demand that the new culture adapt to their ideals and values. As a result, the new, fundamental, and intolerant culture is slowly becoming the dominant majority. At the same time the postmodern culture, in an effort to increase its own tolerance, is cracking down on its own traditions and “narrow-minded” beliefs. This was the subject of a recent report from the Church of England.

This is the great flaw of post-modernity’s desire to hold tolerance as the highest ideal. It is a self-defeating proposition. You either stand for something or else you will fall for anything.

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