August 27, 2010

Tolerance Does Not Require Approval

Listen, it don't really matter to me
Baby, you believe what you wanna believe.
You see, you don't have to live like a refugee.

-- Tom Petty

Central to the 'progressives' suicidal rush to condemn the Cross and celebrate the Mosque is their decades long and continuing attempt to equate "tolerance" with "approval." These two states are not the same thing which is why the English language provides two distinctly different words.

Why does the First Amendment enshrine both speech and religion as things the state shall not legislate against or establish an approved version thereof? To formalize "tolerance" without requiring "approval."

In this wise, it is possible to form a society of individuals with vastly different ideas and religions in which the liberty of all is respected by all. In essence we agree that I tolerate your worship of a moon god and you tolerate my worship of a tree. It's "live and let live" at the most basic level. If, on the other hand, you decide that I have to make continuous noises of "approval" of the moon god in order for you to grant me the right to worship the tree god in peace, we are headed towards an argument that ends in guns.

Stated bluntly the American tradition is that I don't require approval of my beliefs from you and you don't insist on my approval of your beliefs. Regardless of what we may do, we tacitly agree not to do things which exacerbate a state of mutual disrespect. We mutually agree not to get in each others faces about these issues with acts like, oh I don't know, building a temple to the moon god so that it casts a shadow across my cemetery. Doing so starts a process of disrespect that also tends, if history is any guide, to end in guns and fire.

"Toleration does not require approval." It really is the simplest of social compacts and like all great and simple ideas bringing in nuance and qualifiers doesn't strengthen our common bonds as a society. On the contrary, it only weakens them. This is well known to those that seek to create a climate of continual upheaval in the mistaken belief that, in the end, the fire will not consume them. They should reflect that civil war consumes all. Then again, perhaps they know and knowing do not care.

It is well to reflect that every single move in the past few decades that has resulted in a loss of individual liberty has begun in a plea for tolerance and ended with non-negotiable demands for approval. Those familiar with the decades of the 1840s and the 1850s, the last time the fires in the minds of men grew this hot, will recognize our current conundrum as mirrored in the various issues that led up to and away from the Missouri Compromise. Many were ready, up until the very last moment, to tolerate slavery. But most were not prepared to step over that line into outright approval. Yet those who began in asking for tolerance for slavery ended in demanding approval. As always, it ended in guns and the sweeping away of an old and corrupt institution.

In the spirit of America, I am prepared to tolerate a vast and unfettered range of religions, beliefs, lifestyles, and other things that my fellow citizens may wish to don in order to decorate their lives and souls. But if they come to me and seek my unfettered approval for this or that hobby-horse they have chosen to ride I shall reserve my approval according to my judgment. Should they then, like piqued children, insist on my approval of this or my disapproval of that as a requirement in custom or in law for my continued full citizenship in this nation, we will find ourselves at daggers drawn.

I show you the American contract enshrined in the Declaration and codified in the Constitution. Like Lincoln, I show you a land "conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are equal." Like Whitman, I give you "the sign of democracy."

From these founding principles, forged and tested in fire, we have built a land in which we -- difficult as it may be -- agree to "tolerate" each other. I do not require, nor do I seek to compel, your "approval." Beware if you seek to compel mine.

Posted by Vanderleun at August 27, 2010 12:34 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

The rape of the English language continues, unabated.

Posted by: Jewel at August 27, 2010 10:47 AM

"At its most basic the American tradition is that I don't require approval of my beliefs from you and you don't insist on my approval of your beliefs. Regardless of what we may do, we tacitly agree not to do things which exacerbate a state of mutual disrespect."

Doesn't the outcry for gay marriage have more than a tincture of demand for approval of homosexuality? We're going to redefine the most ancient of institutions, entirely by judicial fiat, because otherwise, we can't get the approval of the majority of people.

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at August 27, 2010 1:45 PM

Yes, it does qualify.

Posted by: vanderleun at August 27, 2010 2:00 PM


Posted by: fatgreencat at August 27, 2010 2:08 PM

The steady drumbeat of the Left -- and Islam -- that seeks to drive the stake through the American heart.

It is continuing mystery why so many have yielded their will to resist conquest.

Not here, of course!

Posted by: Irish Cicero at August 27, 2010 4:20 PM

I remember Bill Whittle's essays, "Tribes", and "Sanctuary". This piece is cut from the same chunk of wisdom.



Posted by: jwm at August 27, 2010 4:22 PM

I've got your back, man!

Posted by: John Hinds at August 27, 2010 5:32 PM

It will end with guns. It always does.

Posted by: The Real Old Salt at August 27, 2010 6:09 PM

In England any manifestation of intolerance of the intolerable is illegal, as is written or spoken disapproval of the intolerable. Any dissent against the will of the enemy is apparently proscribed under 'hate' laws. Disapproval is a precursor to the substantial offence of hatred. Intolerance = hatred. Enforcement is patchy, but it dos happen.

Posted by: Frank P at August 27, 2010 6:45 PM

Freedom of religion does not obligate the public to approve all its expressions. And freedom of speech guarantees a right to dissent.

No one of any substance is challenging Park51's constitutional rights. Instead, the real challenge is to live up to their own professed goals.

And at this, they have manifestly and spectacularly failed.

At minimum, they need a new mission statement that aligns with their actions.

Posted by: RandallW at August 27, 2010 6:48 PM

It will end with guns. It always does.

Indeed. We're better-armed than the moon god's followers and their left-wing allies. Most of us also know how to use the guns we have. We should strive to keep this natural advantage.

Posted by: waltj at August 27, 2010 7:35 PM

An invasion of ideas has succeeded barbarian invasions. The enforced sterility of the Left reaches back to the empty heart of a desert religion whose void also cannot be filled. Because we have become too polite to say no, we will find ourselves doing what needs to be done in circumstances where talking is pointless.

Or, we may be Nancy boys.

Posted by: james wilson at August 27, 2010 7:59 PM

"From these founding principles, forged and tested in fire, we have built a land in which we -- difficult as it may be -- agree to 'tolerate' each other. I do not require, nor do I seek to compel, your 'approval.' Beware if you seek to compel mine." Well said and true, Gerard.

Tolerance, as you aver, is a two way street. Where is the tolerance in Islam? Blessed little and, if any, very hard to find.

Religion, at least as we in the U.S. think of it, is about our relationship with God. It's not about government, which is about our relationship to one another. Islam is, unfortunately, an amalgam of the two with an active intolerance for non-believers. Aye there's the rub. It is, in its worst form (Wahhabism), totally inimical to our culture and our Constitution. It is, I believe, a religion badly in need of a reformation.

Some say the imam Rauf is working for such reformation. If so, his deeds and words do not exactly transmit that intention to these eyes and ears. Nor does the GZM seem an instrument for such reformation. However, the debate is early and the progressives foolishly conflate tolerance and approval. The disapproval of the GZM and the progressives grows. Good!

Posted by: Jimmy J. at August 27, 2010 9:16 PM

"Islam is, unfortunately, an amalgam of the two with an active intolerance for non-believers. "

Some say it is a cult masquerading as a religion. Personally, I think you are pretty close, but it is not as much a religion as a 'prescription' on how to live in the relatively uncivilized areas of the Middle East.
Beheading and stoning and all the other behaviors countenanced by Islam are not exactly modern day occurrences in the rest of the world.
It is static, and has no 'leader' who can help with the transformation into something compatible with civilized worlds.
When the oil patches run dry, the money will be gone, and the Saudi proselytizing will be a thing of the past. If we are lucky.

Posted by: tomw at August 28, 2010 6:15 AM

Sorry, in one way, can't agree guys. Judaism and Christianity are both about, not only our relationship with God, but our relationship with each other. Christians speak of the vertical AND horizontal shape of the cross. And Judaism is the first ethical (how to treat others) monotheistic religion upon which Christianity is built. I think when you speak about the American system as politically non-religious versus Islam being both political and religious, you are selling short the Judeo-Christian values underpinning the American system.

Michael Medved recently gave a good description of the distinctions between the big three. That is, Judaism is political (law based), but not universalist (does not demand non-adherents follow the law); Christianity is universalist (would like all the world to follow Christ), but not political (not law based); Islam is both political (shariah) and universalist, which is maybe what you were getting at Jimmy J?

I think there is one more critical distinction to make. It is the relationship the adherents have with God which makes Islam incompatible with the other two. Islam (submission) requires a Master/slave relationship with, what I perceive to be, a cruel and capricious god. Remember, Ishmael, the patriarch of the Muslim people, was the bastard son of Abraham with his slave. I have read that Islam teaches that Abraham took Ishmael, rather than Isaac, to be sacrificed, in attempt to legitimize Ishmael.

And the most obvious evidence today of this Master/slave relationship is that the strictest adherents to Islam, the jihadists, believe their God wants them to die for him - the complete opposite of the Christian belief (Christ died for our salvation). When Christians perform the most heroic acts of self-sacrifice, many in our military for example, they believe they are *emulating* Christ (dying for the good of others), whereas the Muslim martyr seems to be satisfying some cruel demands for innocent blood on the part of a hateful god. It is this fundamental Master/slave relationship which I believe makes a "reformation" of Islam unlikely, if not impossible.

Probably just painted a giant target on my back. But nothing like Klavan's! See above. Redirection to above Muslim friends! /call me a coward

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at August 28, 2010 8:10 AM

BTW, the relationship of the other two of the big three with God is worth a note. As a Christian, I find the Daddy/child relationship very comforting. God's will is for human flourishing and He wants me to be the best person he made me to be. When I suffer I can go to him and be comforted.

The Jews relationship with God I find more nuanced and mysterious. Maybe someone can explain? Is it Creator/treasured creation? That would explain the emphasis on human dignity, but allow for the kvetching?

Posted by: Western Chauvinist at August 28, 2010 8:20 AM

W.C., my point was that, though our religious tenets do often inform our relationships to one another, the way we formalize them here in this life is through secular government. That was one of the great insights of the Founders. Separate the two because there are so many different relationships formed with God. Witness the many sects, offshoots, non-believers, sometime believers, switchers, etc. To create unity among such is a fool's errand. On the other hand, we must have a way to deal with each other on a daily basis in spite of differing religious beliefs.

Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, property rights enforced by courts, and governments elected by the people to serve the people. It's a workable though sometimes messy system. If the electorate stays educated and the passions of faith can be kept in the church, synagogue, mosque, and home, we can unite (reasonably well) around the principles of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. At least that's my take.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at August 28, 2010 10:56 AM

I like what you've said--tolerance isn't the same as acceptance, etc, and that things will usually work best if everyone follows "live and let live." However...

Some belief systems are *so* antithetical to ours that we may not even be willing to tolerate. Polygamy, for example--I'm not sure that any level of government has a sound legal basis for outlawing it, but if that's the law of the land, how do we respond when Achmed enters the country with 4 wives?

If they're just visiting, tolerating might be viable. But how about if they stay and want to become citizens? Tolerance is wonderful, but if it's applied in this case, it creates a new class of citizen who gets the benefit of special rules.

Same question if some sect pops up in which an adult can marry a 10-yr-old: tolerance will create a new class of citizens with special rights. Doesn't mean we *can't* go down that path, but are you sure you *want* to?

We've already seen the nose of this particular camel in our tent: A New Jersey woman accused her Muslim husband of raping her. His attorney countered that such a thing wasn't a crime in his culture, so he shouldn't be held accountable for our crazy laws.

Judge bought it and the guy got off free.

So while "live and let live" is a wonderful principle, making that the standard will eventually bump up against a case that you won't be able to tolerate with a clear conscience.

Why not a different standard: Americans are a very tolerant people, but if you absolutely insist on the right to stone adulterers or flog women who appear in public without a male family member...well, it's a big world out there and we trust you'll find a spot more in tune with your tastes--because you're not gonna stay here.

Posted by: sf at August 28, 2010 1:21 PM

sf: where did you hear that story about a "New Jersey" woman?

Because I live here, and if anything of the sort had occurred, I assure you, I would have heard about it.

Posted by: Eric Blair at August 28, 2010 7:24 PM

Eric, I found the story through Google. It's true.

from the FOX News article:

"According to the court record, the man's wife -- a Moroccan woman who had recently immigrated to the U.S. at the time of the attacks -- alleged:

"Defendant forced plaintiff to have sex with him while she cried. Plaintiff testified that defendant always told her "this is according to our religion. You are my wife, I c[an] do anything to you. The woman, she should submit and do anything I ask her to do."

In considering the woman's plea for a restraining order after the couple divorced, Charles ruled in June 2009 that a preponderance of the evidence showed the defendant had harassed and assaulted her, but "The court believes that [defendant] was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited."

Charles' ruling was overturned last month by New Jersey's Appellate Court, which ruled that the husband's religious beliefs were irrelevant and that the judge, in taking them into consideration, "was mistaken."

The woman's lawyer, Jennifer Donnelly of New Jersey Legal Services, told that Charles' ruling should add to the case for a proposed Oklahoma law, which will be on the ballot in November, which would ban judges from considering "international law or Shariah Law" in their rulings."

Posted by: Jewel at August 29, 2010 8:46 AM