Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tolerance

Tolerance leads to a cancer of the mind.

That being said, I need to clarify what I mean by the kind of tolerance that leads to the cancer of the mind. Under the umbrella of tolerance are the following concepts: political correctness, affirmative action, ecumenism, race relations (to include the gay lobby), and class envy (leading to class warfare). Each of these concepts have noble goals and were birthed with the best of intentions. However, over the years, each of these have become a very dark and sinister mockery of themselves and have ultimately became what they beheld. In short, the tolerance most people have strived for has turned into a kind of insidious intolerance that exists only to pull at the loose strings making up the fabric of our civilization.

Political correctness started out as an attempt to soften some of the terminology that was being used. I'll concede that some of the language used prior to this movement may have cast certain individuals in a negative light. Elimination of the "N" word has been, for the most part, a very good thing. However, instead of stopping at terminology, it spread like cancer into attempting to curb thoughts and deny those with legitimate concerns from having their concerns expressed. Additionally, the arguments supporting political correctness are largely based in anecdotal evidence rather than legitimate statistical or scientific data. While any single case of offense is not good, it is not something to base public policy on. Ultimately, political correctness is based on people's feelings and is thus not something our culture should be basing legislative or judicial policy on. Like many purely political movements that have no definitive goals, political correctness has become an industry and like any industry it will fight for its survival. In fact, to even be allowed admission into debates regarding some of the other topics in this essay, one must admit certain propositions to be universally and undeniably true. Waver from the accepted doctrine even marginally, and you're quickly dismissed with a wave of the hand and a convenient label.

To the adherents of political correctness, I ask you: why is it you're so afraid of certain ideas and perspectives that you feel the need to deny them the same access you have to the public arena of ideas? Why is it harder to find conservatives in psychology, sociology, and * studies (* = some "oppressed" minority) departments than it is to find Muslims at a pig farm? Are you so afraid of the flaws in your own reasoning that you simply cannot tolerate hearing an alternative view point? Why is it you had to invent a term called "hate speech" to eliminate viewpoints you don't agree with? Why is it that students are expelled from schools across this country when they violate no tolerance policies regarding university "speech codes" which are invariably written by the most sensitive of the PC adherents?

Affirmative action, like political correctness, started out with the most noble of causes. When originally enacted, ethnic minorities did have trouble finding jobs and were often actively discriminated against. Unfortunately, it has also become an industry that creates its own supply and demand. When Jesse Jackson can shake down Toyota to give his friends dealerships one doesn't have to think hard to realize what is really going on. Conversely, the affirmative action crowd works tirelessly to reinforce the myth that it is still needed. Keeping people believing in a society heavily slanted against them is a cornerstone of the affirmative action debate. We have entire segments of our population convinced of their own inadequacies in acquiring employment. Hardly a good position for a culture of individualists to be in.

To the supporters of affirmative action, I ask you: how is it you can simulatenously have pride in your race and demand a system remain in place that actively declares you to be so inferior that you must have assistance to even get a job? As comedian Carlos Mencia said "if you want to be treated as equals, I can do that. If you want special treatment, I can do that too. You just can't do both. If you want special treatment, then you must admit that I am your superior". If you want equality, then you get in line for jobs just like I do and we compete on the merits of our work alone. Now, before I get nasty e-mails and postings (as if anyone is reading this), I'm not asking for racial minorities to come to my house and admit they're inferior. I'd prefer everyone to be equals and I've worked hard in my life to treat everyone equally. All I ask of you regardless of race is that you be good at what you do. In my line of work, things either work or they don't. If you're not up to the task of making that stuff work, then you and I are going to have trouble getting along. Its not a race thing.

Ecumenism is the one that will get me in the most hot water with my mother. Ecumenism started off with the goal to develop a kind of Christianity that ignores differences in doctrine in an effort for everyone to get along. I'll admit I was taken in by this line of thinking for a while. However, Ecumenism has become a haven for weak-minded Christians who don't want to really believe in something. The ecumenist's favorite verse is "judge not lest ye be judged". They use this verse a a cudgel to ward off any attempts at correction in their behavior or any attempts to interpret scripture to actually say anything. Suddenly, everyone is allowed a private interpretation of the Bible and rather than engage the text of Scripture with other believers in an attempt to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15), the ecumenist hides from such confrontation lest people be made to feel uncomfortable. Harmony always trumps truth (and sometimes *the* Truth) for the ecumenist. Getting along is always preferable to taking a doctrinal stand.

To the ecumenists, I ask for chapter and verse where we are told that the life of a Christian is supposed to be one of unmitigated joy broken up by very short periods where life gets a little uncomfortable. Where consequences for sin cannot be permanent? The message of the Bible must be consistent or it is a document wholly not worthy of belief. Further, that message must be understandable by normal people or Christianity becomes a gnostic religion and then what is the point?

At the start of the twentieth century, relations between the white majority in this country and other races, especially blacks, was pretty bad. In many areas of the country, segregation, discrimination, and even physical attacks leading to more than one death were the norm. Blacks in many areas of the country wouldn't dare dream to aspire to certain positions or professions. I will not dignify those situations by saying that those situations were anything but a horrible chapter of our country's history. The 1965 civil rights act was something, that had I been alive, I would have danced in the streets to see come to fruition. While some neanderthals still actively discriminate against person's of another race (and I include members of all races in this, blacks and hispanics practice discrimination too), there are too few of us left who have the energy during the day to actively hate people based on the color of their skin. That being said, at some point the Al Sharpton's and Jesse Jackson's of the world really need to stop and realize they're now damaging their cause.

I'll illustrate all of this with the following hypothetical situation. Imagine that tomorrow racism/sexism in any form disappeared. Imagine that all of the effects of the racism/sexism of the past were likewise eliminated. Who has the most to loose? Corporations? Absolutely not, they suddenly have an influx of highly qualified applicants for open positions. Competition for jobs suddenly yields a job market where the best people of all races get good jobs. That competition forces everyone to work harder, not only to get jobs, but to keep them as well. Society? Many problems in our society still linger from the hard feelings generated by our fumbling attempts to correct years of discrimination. Our neighborhoods grow closer and are now no longer clustered according to race. Our government? More politicians of different races who are equally good at what politicans are good at (a topic for another post for sure). A broader range of opinions and perspectives that help shape public debate and later public policy. Not one aspect of our society, save one, would not benefit greatly should racism and its effects disappear completely tomorrow. That one area that doesn't benefit greatly are the organizations that make up the race-baiting industry in this country. Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, Patricia Ireland, and Kim Gandy are all out of a job with nothing in the way of skills to earn a living. Remember that Jesse Jackson's springboard into fame was appearing on morning news shows covered in Dr. King's blood the day after Dr. King was assassinated.

To the race and "civil rights" crowd, I ask: what is your end goal? How do you define equality in specific and practical terms? At what point will men like Jackson, and Sharpton determine that the outcomes they set out to acheive have been accomplished and their work is no longer needed? What is it you perceive that I (as a white heterosexual male) have that you feel you don't have any access to? All people in this country have the right to equal protection under the law. Sure, it seems like the rich can get away with a lot because of fancy lawyers and manipulation of the system. However, with the same monetary resources would you be denied those same accommodations based on the color of your skin? If Ken Lay were black, would people in this country hate him any more or less? Would he have been able to manipulate the system any less effectively? The main problem I see with the civil rights movement in recent history is they lack a set of defined objectives. Its easy to loose hope when you can't see where you're going or how long it will take to get there.

Class envy has very deep historical roots. We all love stories like Robin Hood as we all take a certain amount of schadenfreude (loosely translated, the malicious enjoyment of another's misfortune) whenever we see rich people take a fall. This is not the class envy that I refer to. The class envy that I'm talking about result in statements like making sure the rich pay "their fair share" when it comes to taxes. Wealth distribution is neither codified in the Constitution, nor does it make any economic sense. It is socialism, pure and simple. Do you agree with the statement "from each according to his ability to each according to his need"? Think about that statement for a moment. Then reflect that those are the words of the father of modern communism, Karl Marx. The same economic and governmental system responsible for the deaths of over 100,000,000 people in the twentieth century alone? How many people would do the jobs they do if there was no benefit to them for their efforts? Why take the time to get a college degree at any level if it won't earn you one dime more? Why build a quality product if it won't earn your company better standing in the market or earning more income for your company? Class envy is nothing more than jealousy and a fairly ugly form of it. In America, we all have the opportunity to improve our lives economically through hard work and a little ambition. Yet, some in our culture desire to punish those who are successful for their success.

Sure, we all feel bad for the poor. However, consider the following situation. A family in your neighborhood recently suffered a severe car accident. The father/husband (the primary wage earner) is severely injured and unable to work. The family suddenly needs a wheelchair ramp built for their house. Compare the response from the liberal and the response from the conservative. The liberal petitions the government to have the ramp built. They contact the appropriate government service and build the ramp at the taxpayer expense. They hire a contractor who makes the project cost even more. The conservative rallies the neighbors who donate the work and tools one saturday. Those who can't donate work and/or tools have the option of donating funds to assist in purchasing the raw materials. The ramp is built at a fraction of the cost and the structure of the community is strengthened. For those who are truly in need, a certain amount of charity seems necessary. However, the current state of our welfare department provides incomes to otherwise able-bodied people. Provide people with a reason to not work, and a certain segement of our population will not (indeed, does not). Like the other topics in this essay, our charity as a nation (that seems to know no limits) should not be used to provide people with the opportunity to be non producers indefinitely. We treat lazyness as though its a legitimate lifestyle. People feel no shame in taking taxpayer money to live is nothing more than bribing people for votes.

To those who feel that we are not entitled to the fruits of our labor, I ask: who are you to tell me what to do with my success? While I should be careful to be a good steward of the funds I've been blessed with, I do not give those on the left the authority to tell me what to do with my charity. When we take away the incentive to do work hard, we invite mediocrity. When we take away the consequences of not working hard, we invite lazyness. Until Hilary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and Howard Dean live entirely on what I make a year (giving the balance of their income to the government), they can't even begin to tell me that the rich need to be punished. Further, with a progressive tax system like the one we have in place in the US today, how is it that the rich aren't paying "their fair share"? You tax a higher percentage on a larger sum of money. In this country the "rich" account for about 80% of the tax revenues collected by the government. When cutting taxes (something that is desperately needed in this country), how do you not cut taxes for the rich? If you can't answer that question without coming to the conclusion that since the rich make more they can afford to pay more, then I don't want to talk to you. Your head is mired so deep in the DNC sesspool I can't imagine carrying on an intelligent conversation with you.

In the end, these topics all start off with good intentions and all had the potential to do good. However, they have been taken over by the most zealous radicals bent on seeing their will accomplished and imposed on everyone else. They demand their sensibilities be catered to, and worse, they demand the government step in and assert itself where it has no business going. We deem prejudice as universally bad, but it isn't the prejudice that is wrong. It is wrong when we allow ourselves to not be swayed when confronted with an individual that runs contratry to the stereotype. When you're prepared to examine positions that are not only contrary to what you think to be true but that you would work your entire life to oppose. Examine the data, the hard facts and look beyond the rhetoric and be prepared to modify your opinion should the data and the facts run contrary to your opinions and experience. That is how real tolerance transcends rhetoric and political posturing and becomes personal, and by extension becomes real.

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