Are liberals tolerating themselves right out of existence? In our insistence to let everyone have their say, including facists, racists, and those who oppose free speech, are we allowing those who don't share our liberal values to take over our culture? Is the only way to defeat our enemies to become them? And is that any better?
Example: In America right now, crazy Jesus-krispies want to eliminate the teaching of evolution in schools. They know they can't get it banned, so they're settling to have Intelligent Design taught in science class along side evolution as a viable, scientifically-based alternative viewpoint to "Darwinism." Obviously this is crap, but their arguement goes something like this: "We're not tyring to make your kids agree with us. We just want all sides of the arguement presented so young people can make up their own minds."
It sounds terribly rational doesn't it? It makes them sound like they are the all-tolerant ones, and us crazy liberal "open-minded" east coast eitists are tying to quash their humble faith. (Of course, it completely ignores the fact that ID has nothing to do with science and there is no "arguement" in the scientific community about the credibilty of evolution via natural selection. Just goes to show how carefully they've chosen their words.)
In our advocacy for freedome of religion, expression, thought, and speech, we've paved the way for those who disagree with us to take over and remove from our society the very values that enable their rise to power.
Here's another example: that crazy Muslim cartoon fiasco in Denmark last year. The drama from which is still on-going, by the way. The artists of the cartoons, who were making a political statement about Islamic self-censorship, are still in hiding. There are still black-market rewards out for their heads, and they will never again be able to live a normal life. Their families are still in serious danger. Many of the Muslims who called for the death of these cartoonists live in Denmark or elsewhere in Europe. These are immigrants who demand that we tolerate their religion and culture, but are activley trying to oppress ours, the open, freedom-loving cultures to which they immigrated.
An article in the Guardian the other day asked "To what degree to we as a society accommodate these views?" To which I respond, "Why is this even a question? Why do we even attempt to accommodate people who demand special priveleges for themselves that they deny others?" Whatever happened to "As long as you live in my house, you live by my rules." Didn't we all hear that from our parents at some point in our teenage years? Did no one tell them it's just plain rude to walk into someone's home and tell them how to live their lives? Did I just write an entire paragraph containing nothing but questions?
I was thinking about the article I posted on M.E. the other day. The one about the poor dockworkers who banded together to prevent a bunch of facists from demonstrating in their neighborhood way back in the day. I applaud their efforts. But technically, shouldn't the facists have been allowed to march? What about their freedom of speech?
The Ku Klux Klan is still alive and well in the US of A. I hate the Klan. They're a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-semetic fascists. A couple years back they had a rally in Cleveland, Ohio. The citizens of clevelend were so upset the National Guard had to be called in to protect the Klan members. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), non-profit champion of civil rights for minority groups in America, actually went to court to defend the Klan's constiutional right to freedom of assembly. (Wouldn't you have hated to be the lawyer that got handed that case?) This is an organization that normally defends the rights of blacks, gays, and jews. And here they found themselves in a position where they had to acknowledge the rights of the people whose sole mission is to remove rights from minority groups! Ow, the irony!
(This is a really crummy transition, but bear with me here)
The Pirate is Christian. (I told you it was a crummy transition.) A fairly devout one at that. Being a militant atheist myself, this has prompted some very intimate and personal discussions about what we believe, what values are important to us, and what values we can tolerate and respect in other people. To help me better understand his position, he gave me a copy of "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. Lewis's book essentially takes a single, fundamental premise, and from that creates a (seemingly) rational arguement whereby if you believe the first premise, you must wind up a the end of the road accepting Jesus Christ as your savior. The fundamental principle on which the work is based is this: some moral codes are superior to others.
The idea of relative superiorities of moralities is something I've been struggling with for some time. I always thought that no culutre's moral code was superior to any one else's, that no culture could be judged better or worse than another, that every culture was different, but ultimately equal. (Herebe, I can already hear you plotting your comment in my head!) I was taught this as part of my education on why it was wrong to massacre the Native Americans by the millions. I was taught it there was no such thing as absolute right and wrong, that everything we percieved as right and wrong was a product of our culture, and we have no right to impose those views on another culture.
But what if another culture tries to impose thier views on me? Lately I find myself thinking, "Hang on a minute. there are some things that are just plain wrong, i don't care who you are or what your culture tells you. Stoning a woman for adultery (when her accomplice - remember it takes two to tango - goes free) is wrong. FGM is wrong. Killing someone because he drew a picutre you don't like is wrong. Burning churches and killing nuns because you don't like something someone said is wrong."
I'm sure it must be. Why am I so sure? Am I sure?
When do we have to stop tolerating what other people justify in the name of their culutre? And when does that intolerance turn us into those same people?
I never thought of people who disagreed with my views as "my enemy." But then they declared me their "enemy." I do not seek war, but it seems to have come to my front door. I do not welcome it, but I cannot igore it. How do you defeat your enemy without becoming him? I'm having a crisis of faith. I'm losing faith in my morality, my confidence, my self.
These are the things that keep me awake at night.