Appeasement can be dangerous | VailDaily.com
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Appeasement can be dangerous

A few self-imposed, perhaps well-intentioned folks seem to be having an issue lately with the word tolerance.Placing the word on the same mantel alongside appeasement, they evidently think the meanings are as interchangeable as Bond girls. In reality, they are also confusing it with acceptance and respect.Tolerance is not the wonderful be-all-to-end-all, warm and fuzzy noun which we can collectively use to begin solving the world’s problems. Actually, it is quite possibly the opposite.Tolerance plants seeds deep into the breeding ground of progressive indifference, growing roots of ignorance, anger, fear and for what at first appears as the smile of trust before it becomes the frown of suspicious distrust over time. When forced, it cultivates hatred, envy, enmity, stupidity and the inevitable abuse that alienates the intelligence of otherwise sane individuals.Extreme tolerance goes a step further, not producing unity or mutual respect as hoped, but instead providing nothing more than a temporary acceptance that regrettably leads to social chaos, ending with the inevitable intolerance for all involved (paradoxically against the generally accepted principle of tolerance itself). Some see tolerance as a path to open-minded enlightenment. I see it as a dangerous road of appeasement that is doomed to being a dead end. Who out there does not understand that this is what is happening to the French government today? Decades of immigrant tolerance (for the explicit purpose of fulfilling menial jobs) was never met with the outreaching arms of acceptance by the French populace as hoped. Instead a growing and simmering fist of intolerance led to the inevitable outbreaks of violence that are only now in a temporary remission stage. The fuses are currently lit throughout the rest of Europe, as well, with nature’s seasons being the only saving grace for the moment.Never, ever confuse tolerance with respect.Religious moderates pretend to take the high road of pluralism, claiming equality of all faiths (except, hopefully, Scientology). But in doing so they neglect to admit to themselves, at least publicly, the obviously incompatible truths professed by each. As long as a Christian believes that only the like-minded will be saved on Judgment Day, he cannot possibly have actual respect for the beliefs of others when down deep he surely “knows” that only a hell awaits them. In turn, those other faiths (Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.) have the same arrogant view of their own beliefs and have spent thousands of years violently proving to each other the errors of their ways. (Crusades, anyone?)Perhaps closer to home, many pretend to be tolerant of the heavy drinker at a party, but only until they go too far and spill red wine on white carpet.Many pretend to be tolerant of smokers in public places, but only until they go too far and toxic smoke drifts in our general direction.Many pretend to be tolerant of illegals in our work force, but only until one commits a crime or is proven to be taking advantage of social programs at the expense of our own tax dollars.Many pretend to be tolerant of gays, but only to the point where they are afraid to leave them alone with their children.Now please, some of you out there in Happy Valley, try your best not to start off the New Year by grossly twisting my intended meaning into some ugly black-and-white issue in which one must take definitive sides. Indulge me, if you will. The main point is not to debate in a circular loop the relevance of an English word, but the significance of the meaning behind the word.The message is not to dispute a need for tolerance. At times it is of course prudent, otherwise some issues that would quickly escalate into major incidents could not instead be handled with diplomacy at the benefit of saving face, or worse, negating loss of life, even if only temporarily. Tolerance can indeed play a positive role in many situations, such as not bashing the head of a Raider fan who yells obscenities at Jake Plummer in front of your 6-year-old or the simple act of allowing tourists to attempt navigations of roundabouts.But when an issue is considered major, the use of tolerance is merely a Band-Aid temporarily slapped on a boiling surface that demands a much more through handling. Tolerance in this respect will never prove diversity of thought, but merely provide a momentary diversion from inevitable conflict, leaving in its wake little more than a sad, physical definition for procrastination on a large-scale mental level.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at poor@vail.netVail, Colorado


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