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July 8, 2006

The Truth About Tolerance

(Pluralism, Diversity and the Culture Wars)

Brad Stetson & Joseph G. Conti – ISBN – 0830827870

“There are two kinds of people in the world, the conscious dogmatists and the unconscious dogmatists. I have always found, myself, that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic.” G.J. Chesterton

“Not only is [classical liberal tolerance] no longer extended to protect ideas that run counter to the doctrines of modern liberalism, but in addition it elevates liberal ideas above criticism.” John O’Sullivan

“Leftists would have us believe that a culture war is going on between tolerant secularists and intolerant Christians. Not so. . . . The conflict is really between two rival views of tolerance. One view is relativist—it says the best foundation for tolerance is not thinking you know anything. The other view is realist—it says you have to know something in order to judge what is tolerable. Guess who the real oppressors are?” Wish I’d said that . . . at least first . . . but it was in a review of the book written by J. Budziszewski which drew me to it in the first place.

This is a well written book, which one should read slowly and carefully. It is a clearly conservative work not intended to convert the unbeliever, but to fortify those who are less sure why they believe what they believe and need or want some reinforcement. This is their situational Viagra.

The authors attack the use of relativism, which commits us to moral subjectivity: What is true and right is that which one wants it to be . . . at the moment. Nothing can be known objectively. Thus political debate is reduced to sloganeering. Popular words such as diversity, choice and tolerance, ubiquitous as they are, are difficult concepts with which to disagree, but what do the words actually mean? Values cannot be morally good apart from their context and the ends to which they are applied. Aye, mate. There’s the rub!

Secular liberals insist that their critics are “moral imperialists” who wish to impose their ideology on society; very clever in that it stifles debate; in fact, however, the reverse is often true. Most liberals do not genuinely value diversity, nor do they truly believe that their own ideas would win out in a culturally open and informed debate. As I have noted in other reviews, they define the terms—or so obfuscate them as to make them unrecognizable--thereby winning or terminating the debate.

Buddhism and Christianity are world views. No less so is Secularism, yet the latter is far less systematic and reflective, and wholly untested by time. A Secularist’s faith “amounts to nothing more than self-devotion and the pursuit of whatever one wants to pursue at the moment.”

The Secularist uses rights as weapons against the norms of tradition and history, though “rights, both civil and natural, are laden with the responsibility for their sound stewardship exhibited in their morally informed careful exercise.” One cannot “appreciate” diversity without allowing various worldviews to exist. Open society affirms the right to free expression. That conservatives, Christian and otherwise, are viewed by Secularists as intolerant and bigoted would be laughable, if only it was funny.

Education has become dogmatic, rigid, arrogant and indoctrinating in the Secularist world view. The moronic rationalizations of political correctness prevail. There is nothing tolerable--or tolerant--in their “liberation,” and little that is progressive in their “progressivism.”

We have come a long way from a time when the wisdom of Western culture’s intellectual heritage and Judeo-Christian foundations were esteemed and defended. We’ve arrived at a place where there is an eerie cynicism about the possibility of knowing anything objectively; moral truth is impossible without objective truth. The unreality and jargon of postmodernism, as well as its atomistic commitment to radical individualism is the “grinding noise” of liberalism’s drive to validate its disdain for traditional morality. Further, it asserts that faith and ethics are matters of taste, not truth, and judgments about right and wrong are acts of will, not the public lexis of actual knowledge.

Intolerance and non-tolerance are peculiarly equated and dealt with as if synonyms. Properly, intolerance may reflect narrow-mindedness, but, as non-tolerance it might also be construed as a failure to tolerate those things which should not be tolerated.

Tolerance, rightly understood, favors civic order thru its willingness not to be tolerant. Pseudotolerance, however, is loathe to criticize or criminalize most things, except of course the pet projects of liberalism’s preferred social renovations.

There ought to be a civil commitment to be agreeable in disagreement, for the sake of the commonweal. That is not apparent, or even possible, with the Secularists.

Posted by respeto at July 8, 2006 11:01 AM