Z Blog – No tolerance for intolerance
I recently called Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo intolerant for his attacks on what he’s called America’s “cult of multi-culturalism.”
In response to the column in which I made the charge, an e-mailer, in defending Tancredo, wrote the following: “If you believe in multi-culturalism, you wouldn’t mind the true Islamic belief where a man would kill his wife if she were seen in public with bare legs. That is part of their culture.”
Whether that’s even true, letting someone kill his wife ” no matter how sacred a tenet of their religion ” isn’t tolerance. Excusing crimes and atrocities by calling them religious or cultural beliefs is cowardly.
Tolerance is letting people love, worship and enjoy themselves as long as they’re not harming their neighbors or their neighborhood.
Take the gay couple next door. Some nosy neighbors may consider same-sex smooching in the backyard offensive, even repugnant, but nobody’s really being scarred ” physically or emotionally ” and tolerance says the neighbor should mind her own business.
Hey, maybe, that gay couple doesn’t like the glowing, plastic neon three wise men the neighbor keeps on the roof from the day after Thanksgiving until Groundhog’s Day. Maybe it shines too brightly into their bedroom. Maybe it reminds them of the religion that calls them sinners.
But tolerance says they should grin and bear it because it’ll be centuries before garish displays of religiosity are a hate crime.
Another letter writer defended Tancredo by saying only his worldview can prevent the riots that have occurred in Europe. This letter writer warns violence is fast on its way to America.
No. 1, America is already a violent country, and these letter writers didn’t have much to say when that violence was tearing apart inner-city, black neighborhoods. And No. 2, what about the violence Tancredo and his Republican cronies have brought to innocent civilians in Iraq?
The violence in France was caused by the refusal of the native population’s inability to accept the immigrants and the immigrants’ refusal to assimilate. But assimilation is a two-way street: as much as the newcomers have to change some of their ways to fit in, the existing population has to let the newcomers add some of their beliefs to the culture.
Tancredo’s philosophy seems to be to resist such cultural cooperation in defense his stale vision of America, where the culture is set in red-white-and-blue concrete leftover from the 1950s.
This “cult of multi-culturalism” is one we should all want to join. It’s what keeps American society rich and vibrant. Only by accepting immigrants ” and by blending the beliefs, ideas and foods of newcomers into our cultures ” can we avoid the riots that erupt in supposedly culture-blind societies like France.