A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

The “Triumphalism” of Tolerance

Okay, people, listen up and take good notes today. Yes, I’m especially talking to you people on the right side of the room. You seem to have a particularly bad time with the subject of tolerance and intolerance and telling the difference between the two.

Now we all know what President Obama said last week about religious freedom. He spoke about it in the context over a debate for plans to build a mosque and an Islamic community center near the site of the World Trade Center attack. Everyone realizes there are very raw feelings about the loss many people suffered on 9/11, but we need to take a few moments and examine our loss and gain a better perspective of our country and its ideals.

Ms. Palin, I hope you’re not tweeting your followers again. You need to pay attention to this lecture. Some of this material will be on the final. Now, where was I...

Oh, yes...we must recognize the reason many people came to these shores in the first place. It’s true that many came here to further their economic opportunities, but many emigrated to escape religious persecution. Our new land made a promise to all comers that whoever they were and however they believed, they would not be punished or ridiculed for their faith. This was understood to be true for all faiths...not just Christianity, and certainly not limited to just evangelical Christianity. Some of you seem to consistently forget that fact...

Mr. Breitbart, you don’t seem to be writing much today. I do hope you’re taking nice, complete notes. As I was saying...

The concept of religious freedom applies to all faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and so on. It was one of the basic principles on which this country was founded. Certainly we don’t all agree on what is right for everyone, but we should never allow ourselves to believe that our faith is the only right faith for everyone. We should never feel that our way is superior to all other ways of life. This ethnocentrism is wrong. It leads to prejudice and bigotry, and can be — and has — manifested itself as genocide.

Mr. Gingrich! Did I just see you passing notes to Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Beck? I would advise you to pay strict attention, Mr. Gingrich. You have just as much to learn here as everyone else.

Some of you may find this hard to believe, but we are sensitive to the people who lost loved ones in the attacks. We realize that they struggle every day of their lives to rebuild on their loss. This reminds us of the old cliché, “Time heals all wounds”. While we can only hope for the best that a healing will occur for all concerned, we should be prepared to be realistic: some people may never recover from the sorrow of this tragedy. In those cases, we can only support each other as best we can, and remind one and all that we shouldn’t see this mosque as strictly a symbol of Islamic faith. It should be seen as a symbol of the morals all faiths share. It should become another icon of the ideals on which this country was founded.

We have to remind ourselves that the attacks were carried out by a small number of overzealous believers who were intolerant of our freedoms. We shouldn’t hold an entire nation of believers accountable for the actions of a bigoted few. If we the people obstruct the construction of the mosque in Lower Manhattan, then we ourselves would be just as intolerant as those who attacked us. Then another old saying would ring true: “The terrorists have won!”

Also think about this: there is always a chance that the developers may abandon their plans. They may eventually realize that, despite their best intentions, the building of a mosque and Islamic community center near ground zero is not worth all of the ill feelings that will be generated and that are being voiced now in the court of public opinion. The country should not stand in the way of its construction, thereby giving the Islamic community the final decision to build or not. It’s a slim chance, but it still exists.

We realize it is not easy to adopt this moral high ground, but it is the right thing to do. We cannot exact revenge on the many Muslims who live among us in our communities. We can not and should not fight intolerance with intolerance.

Okay, Mr. Gingrich! That was your last warning! Come up here, right now! Come up and write the word “triumphalism” 100 times on the blackboard. How the hell should I know what it means? You tell me what it means! You’re the one that invented this word in your little right-wing, conservative, Shakespeare-made-up-words-too world!

As for the rest of you, take out a sheet of paper and write 100 times, “I will be tolerant of other people’s beliefs.”

Ms. Palin? Put the blackberry down, and start writing. Now!

(Thank you for reading. Please remember we all have a lot to learn in the classroom of global understanding.)


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