Thursday, August 8, 2019

Historical Tolerance and the New Left

Growing up in the sixties and seventies, I spent half my life in the northeast and half my life in the south.  While there were many differences between the two experiences, one thing was very consistent: a call for tolerance.  Both the northeast and the south lifted up tolerance as an important American value.  Not that anybody was practicing perfect tolerance.  But tolerance was being lifted up as a worthy virtue in the continued development of uniquely American culture.

Because of this experience, I grew up with a desire to be a tolerant person.  I didn't have to approve of everybody's decisions and lifestyle choices.  But I thought it was important to respect each person's right to chase their dreams and live their lives.  Freedom to live and believe as one chooses, without harming or threatening anyone else, seemed like a good ideal to uphold.  It seemed like a Biblical concept.  And it seemed like a good piece to build into a national culture.

Forty years later, I still think tolerance is a good idea.  Tolerance for all ethnic groups.  I might be British and Scottish.  But I think that all nationalities should have the freedom to apply to live in this great nation.  Tolerance for all religions.  I might be a Christian.  And I might wish that everyone was a Christian.  But practitioners of all religions should be free to practice their religion in peace.  I might be Caucasian.  But people of all races should have the freedom to work hard to benefit from  the American Dream.  I will always think that tolerance is a good idea for everyone to practice.  It was how I was raised and I have never found a reason to move away from it.

Lately, however, I have been feeling waves of intolerance, as though certain voices do not belong in the public arena, as though sometimes tolerance is the wrong answer.  Not religious tolerance - it's still a good thing.  Not ethnic or racial tolerance.  What I will never be able to practice, and what I think we need to avoid at all costs, is historical tolerance.

Does studying and appreciating American History before the Civil War make me a racist?  No - there are important truths to be learned there.  He who does not know history is doomed to repeat it.  Does believing that the Holocaust is an important historical event, complete with names, dates, and locations, make me intolerant?  No - facts are facts, and not interpretations.  Does knowing that virtually 100% of Klansmen were Democrats make me a partisan hack?  No - it just means that my interpretation of history is factually based.

The pressure from the left to be historically tolerant is strong and growing, subtle yet very real.  (  Acknowledgement of facts is seen as intolerant.  Clarification of historical events is seen as insensitive.  The PC police are eager to promote historical tolerance, as though each version of American history is equally legitimate and worthy of respecting.

Into this abyss of confusion and dysfunction, I say "No".  Historical tolerance is one tolerance we as a nation must never succumb to.  Historical tolerance is grounded in ignorance of facts, built upon fears and divisions, and stretches out toward a lawless way of interacting with those around us.  If we as a nation are going to survive we must continue to believe in historical truth.   If truth sets free, then untruth promotes bondage.  If we allow historical untruth to be validated, then how are we to decide and govern?

Lord help us to reject historical tolerance, knowing that You are the God of all truth. 

Historical Tolerance and the New Left

Growing up in the sixties and seventies, I spent half my life in the northeast and half my life in the south.  While there were many differe...