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Tolerance for intolerance?

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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10 March 2018 17:18
 

I recently sat in on a discussion between a Canadian and an Israeli.  The Canadian relayed her experience with a Syrian Muslim refugee woman she had befriended in her community.  The refugee had been helped by the people in her new home, but some cultural conflicts continued.  For example, she disparaged Canadian women for having bare shoulders in the summer.  The Canadian native reminded her, “I wear sleeveless, and still we are friends.”  The native woman’s complaint was that the refugee should not be intolerant of liberal morals.

On the other hand, the Israeli had a different perspective.  He suggested that the native Canadian was also intolerant…of intolerance.  The Israeli lives in a crowded community which is very diverse.  He himself is secular, but his country includes many fanatics of Jewish and Muslim faiths.  He proposed that it should actually be easier for the tolerant person to understand the intolerant person than vice versa.  Though I believe he favors laws that are progressive, he does not expect to change hearts through fiat. 

To be fair, the Canadian native felt that the best way to combat intolerance was to develop relationships.  But she could not be persuaded that her liberal stance had a blind spot.

The question remains:  Is it wrong to be intolerant of intolerance?

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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10 March 2018 17:48
 

It’s an interesting question. I think complete and total tolerance of all things is basically synonymous with having no standards - which of course every society has to have. We can push the bounds of tolerance out somewhat, but of course there are still all sorts of behaviors, from serious crimes to poor etiquette, that we don’t tolerate as a society.


I think the question of how diverse or homogeneous individuals wish for the world to be is fine when it comes to certain topics. I’ve said before that I disagree with making a huge fuss over things like hijabs that are no more than a headscarf. I hear women on French beaches routinely wear far less clothing than I would ever be comfortable with - I sure as heck don’t want them imposing their societal norms on me. Nor would I be ok telling someone they couldn’t wear a turban or a yarmulke. I wasn’t allowed to show my shoulders at church growing up, a generation before that women had to cover their heads in church, and so on. I feel like beyond a certain point it gets down to harmless “These darn kids today and their darn baggy pants falling off showing their Calvin Kleins!” societal fights.


I think there is a spectrum that goes all the way to agreeing on global human rights principles, where the mid points do worry me more. Should we have communities in the US that are largely bilingual? In some ways I see this as helpful and accommodating to new people; in others I see it as beginning a cycle of disadvantage (who is going to do better at a job interview - someone with perfect or somewhat broken English?). In the UK where they have (or had, I think it’s likely still an issue,) problems with girls returning to home countries for FGM at adolescence, then I think that should be reported to social services as child abuse. Cases such as ‘coining’ (an Asian practice that, so far as I know, is painless and not harmful, but leaves very visible bruises and marks)? I think those are grayer areas.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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10 March 2018 19:19
 
hannahtoo - 10 March 2018 05:18 PM

I recently sat in on a discussion between a Canadian and an Israeli.  The Canadian relayed her experience with a Syrian Muslim refugee woman she had befriended in her community.  The refugee had been helped by the people in her new home, but some cultural conflicts continued.  For example, she disparaged Canadian women for having bare shoulders in the summer.  The Canadian native reminded her, “I wear sleeveless, and still we are friends.”  The native woman’s complaint was that the refugee should not be intolerant of liberal morals.

On the other hand, the Israeli had a different perspective.  He suggested that the native Canadian was also intolerant…of intolerance.  The Israeli lives in a crowded community which is very diverse.  He himself is secular, but his country includes many fanatics of Jewish and Muslim faiths.  He proposed that it should actually be easier for the tolerant person to understand the intolerant person than vice versa.  Though I believe he favors laws that are progressive, he does not expect to change hearts through fiat. 

To be fair, the Canadian native felt that the best way to combat intolerance was to develop relationships.  But she could not be persuaded that her liberal stance had a blind spot.

The question remains:  Is it wrong to be intolerant of intolerance?

Good question.

Personally, I’ve always said that the one thing I cannot tolerate is intolerance.  However, what I mean by that is the type of intolerance that causes another to be unkind or unfair to another.  But that does not give us justification to be unkind or unfair to the intolerant person, but we should not tolerate the actions themselves.  The obvious examples of this are expressions of true prejudice, in which we should make it clear that we disagree.

However, that being said, I would not view a different cultural attitude regarding modesty to be intolerant.  The Syrian woman is new to the country and culture and will not yet have become accustomed to her new home.  In time, I expect she will become quite used to seeing another woman’s bare shoulders, even if it continues to be her choice to dress differently.

In the OP it was said that, “she disparaged Canadian women for having bare shoulders ...”; I assume from this that she is telling her Canadian friend how she felt about something that bothered her and that she was not used to.  I think it would lack understanding and sensitivity for the Canadian woman to assume that this new refugee would suddenly adopt or understand western values overnight.  I would think a response could be:  “I understand it must seem strange to you to see women with bare shoulders, but it is quite common here and is generally not considered to be immodest; of course, people have different views of modesty and should dress how they feel most comfortable”.

 

 
 
jdrnd
 
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11 March 2018 08:34
 
hannahtoo - 10 March 2018 05:18 PM

  Is it wrong to be intolerant of intolerance?

AS in all human interactions, it depends.

In the example given by Hannah, The discussion between the Canadian and Syrian concerning women’s exposed shoulders is benign.
It is benign because the topic was not threatening to the Canadian (at least I get the idea that it wasn’t).

But what about a discussion between a white and black person about whether blacks should give up their seats in restaurants to white people because blacks are inferior.
Thats not so benign.

So intolerance of intolerance is appropriate in some situations and inappropriate in others.

 
jdrnd
 
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11 March 2018 08:43
 
NL. - 10 March 2018 05:48 PM

  hijabs ...are no more than a headscarf.

No,
they are a symbol, as is a yarmalke and turban.
None of these are worn as fashion statements and none are worn with the functional purpose of keeping a bodypart comfortable.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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11 March 2018 09:43
 

It’s a con game, religion only whines about tolerance to get what it wants and once it gets it tries to force it on everyone else. That is how all the extremest come to power, because of the tolerance and apathy of the kumbaya crowd.

The greatest weapon of the fascist
Is the tolerance of the pacifist

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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11 March 2018 10:16
 

It gets back to knowing what you value, and defending that. If you value human rights, you shouldn’t be tolerant of those who don’t value human rights.

I’ve long wondered why feminists don’t seem to care about Islamic misogyny. I recently heard a simple (albeit provocative) explanation that makes a lot of sense:

“Extreme feminists hate western men more than they love Muslim women.”

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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11 March 2018 10:16
 
GAD - 11 March 2018 09:43 AM

It’s a con game, religion only whines about tolerance to get what it wants and once it gets it tries to force it on everyone else. That is how all the extremest come to power, because of the tolerance and apathy of the kumbaya crowd.

The greatest weapon of the fascist
Is the tolerance of the pacifist

The opposite of fascism is democratic freedom.  And that includes tolerating those with different beliefs and customs, even those we don’t like.  In religious societies of the past, atheism was not tolerated.  It goes both ways.  Tolerance of ‘the other’ does not mean pacifism towards harmful ideas.

It’s more of a ‘Let it Be’ crowd thing.

[ Edited: 11 March 2018 10:37 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
jdrnd
 
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11 March 2018 10:19
 
GAD - 11 March 2018 09:43 AM

It’s a con game, religion only whines about tolerance to get what it wants and once it gets it tries to force it on everyone else. That is how all the extremest come to power, because of the tolerance and apathy of the kumbaya crowd.

The greatest weapon of the fascist
Is the tolerance of the pacifist

So noted

 
jdrnd
 
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11 March 2018 10:21
 
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 10:16 AM

The opposite of fascism is democratic freedom.  And that includes tolerating those with different beliefs and customs, even those we don’t like.  In religious societies of the past, atheism was not tolerated.  It goes both ways.  Tolerance of ‘the other’ does not mean pacifism towards harmful ideas.

What do you mean by “tolerance”?

 
SkepticX
 
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11 March 2018 10:25
 
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 10:16 AM
GAD - 11 March 2018 09:43 AM

It’s a con game, religion only whines about tolerance to get what it wants and once it gets it tries to force it on everyone else. That is how all the extremest come to power, because of the tolerance and apathy of the kumbaya crowd.

The greatest weapon of the fascist
Is the tolerance of the pacifist

The opposite of fascism is democratic freedom.  And that includes tolerating those with different beliefs and customs, even those we don’t like.  In religious societies of the past, atheism was not tolerated.  It goes both ways.  Tolerance of ‘the other’ does not mean pacifism towards harmful ideas.

It’s more of a ‘Let it Be’ crowd thing.


The topic is much more specific than that though ... it’s about tolerance for intolerance. When intolerance is just coddled and tolerance doesn’t set limits, it takes us to where we are now—an increasingly hostile, bi-polar war over ideas in which extremes continue pushing harder and harder with less and less room or even concept of compromise or accommodation. When reason is too accommodating, incognizance will develop unchecked. It’s a human brain thing.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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11 March 2018 10:49
 
SkepticX - 11 March 2018 10:25 AM
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 10:16 AM
GAD - 11 March 2018 09:43 AM

It’s a con game, religion only whines about tolerance to get what it wants and once it gets it tries to force it on everyone else. That is how all the extremest come to power, because of the tolerance and apathy of the kumbaya crowd.

The greatest weapon of the fascist
Is the tolerance of the pacifist

The opposite of fascism is democratic freedom.  And that includes tolerating those with different beliefs and customs, even those we don’t like.  In religious societies of the past, atheism was not tolerated.  It goes both ways.  Tolerance of ‘the other’ does not mean pacifism towards harmful ideas.

It’s more of a ‘Let it Be’ crowd thing.


The topic is much more specific than that though ... it’s about tolerance for intolerance. When intolerance is just coddled and tolerance doesn’t set limits, it takes us to where we are now—an increasingly hostile, bi-polar war over ideas in which extremes continue pushing harder and harder with less and less room or even concept of compromise or accommodation. When reason is too accommodating, incognizance will develop unchecked. It’s a human brain thing.

In my response (post #2) to the OP, I think I explained this quite clearly.  I agree that we should not be tolerant to harmful intolerance.  We most definitely must set limits.  However, my understanding of the OP was a description more to do with a tolerance of others’ differences in customs and beliefs.  Just as each of us (Western-born) have different views on modesty, recent immigrants also have a right to have their opinions, even if these may differ from the ‘norm’ (as long as these do not include harmful practises).

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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11 March 2018 11:08
 
jdrnd - 11 March 2018 10:21 AM
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 10:16 AM

The opposite of fascism is democratic freedom.  And that includes tolerating those with different beliefs and customs, even those we don’t like.  In religious societies of the past, atheism was not tolerated.  It goes both ways.  Tolerance of ‘the other’ does not mean pacifism towards harmful ideas.

What do you mean by “tolerance”?

To me tolerance is a ‘live and let live’ attitude, an acceptance that we all have different beliefs and customs, that everyone should have the right to express these, with the only limitation being when/if these negatively effect the rights or well being of others.

 
 
SkepticX
 
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11 March 2018 11:19
 
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 10:49 AM
SkepticX - 11 March 2018 10:25 AM
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 10:16 AM
GAD - 11 March 2018 09:43 AM

It’s a con game, religion only whines about tolerance to get what it wants and once it gets it tries to force it on everyone else. That is how all the extremest come to power, because of the tolerance and apathy of the kumbaya crowd.

The greatest weapon of the fascist
Is the tolerance of the pacifist

The opposite of fascism is democratic freedom.  And that includes tolerating those with different beliefs and customs, even those we don’t like.  In religious societies of the past, atheism was not tolerated.  It goes both ways.  Tolerance of ‘the other’ does not mean pacifism towards harmful ideas.

It’s more of a ‘Let it Be’ crowd thing.

The topic is much more specific than that though ... it’s about tolerance for intolerance. When intolerance is just coddled and tolerance doesn’t set limits, it takes us to where we are now—an increasingly hostile, bi-polar war over ideas in which extremes continue pushing harder and harder with less and less room or even concept of compromise or accommodation. When reason is too accommodating, incognizance will develop unchecked. It’s a human brain thing.

In my response (post #2) to the OP, I think I explained this quite clearly.  I agree that we should not be tolerant to harmful intolerance.  We most definitely must set limits.  However, my understanding of the OP was a description more to do with a tolerance of others’ differences in customs and beliefs.  Just as each of us (Western-born) have different views on modesty, recent immigrants also have a right to have their opinions, even if these may differ from the ‘norm’ (as long as these do not include harmful practises).


After the vehicle used to describe the point, the OP ends with ...

To be fair, the Canadian native felt that the best way to combat intolerance was to develop relationships.  But she could not be persuaded that her liberal stance had a blind spot.

The question remains:  Is it wrong to be intolerant of intolerance?

... indicating it’s not so much about specific instances or forms of differences, but rather the tolerance for intolerance that’s the issue. That the Canadian “could not be persuaded” seems disconnected from the narrative leading up to it (in the story she didn’t condemn the Syrian for her intolerance but instead pointed out that she herself behaved as the Syrian disapproved, and yet they were friends), but the end point was all about tolerance for intolerance rather than the underlying differences.

One obvious problem is that the tolerance for intolerance is a never ending cascade—tolerance for intolerance toward intolerance is the next step, so the Syrian should have tolerated the Canadian’s intolerance for her intolerance ... etc.

Tolerance is about getting out of your own way so you can see what’s important rather than just what pushes the buttons you’ve been pre-loaded with by your socialization. Tolerance is being confused with agreement and/or approval here. Tolerating something is not the same as agreeing with it or even appreciating it, and the notion of tolerance for intolerance is not the same as appreciating or agreeing with intolerance, nor does it require accepting it as okay. It does require restraints on judgment and disapproval, which the Canadian demonstrated beautifully in the dialog offered. I gather there was more, but from what’s presented I’d say the Canadian got it exactly right. It seems like she was probably trying to combat the confusion I’m describing, even if she hadn’t quite put her thumb on it, so to speak.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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11 March 2018 12:35
 
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 11:08 AM
jdrnd - 11 March 2018 10:21 AM
Jan_CAN - 11 March 2018 10:16 AM

The opposite of fascism is democratic freedom.  And that includes tolerating those with different beliefs and customs, even those we don’t like.  In religious societies of the past, atheism was not tolerated.  It goes both ways.  Tolerance of ‘the other’ does not mean pacifism towards harmful ideas.

What do you mean by “tolerance”?

To me tolerance is a ‘live and let live’ attitude, an acceptance that we all have different beliefs and customs, that everyone should have the right to express these, with the only limitation being when/if these negatively effect the rights or well being of others.

Does tolerance include expressing opinion that disagree with another person’s opinion… and giving reasons why one disagrees?

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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11 March 2018 13:05
 

I perhaps did not explain the scenario enough.  It did seem that the Canadian woman was critical of the immigrant.  She felt the immigrant should change to give up her judgments against liberal society.  She felt her views were justified, whereas those of the immigrant were not. 

Back in Syria, where the majority hold the same views, of course, a Canadian visitor might be expected to respect the Syrian sensibilities.  We’ve all experienced this if we’ve traveled overseas.  In many conservative countries, visiting women cover their heads.  I know a family who visited Mauritania, and the women were advised to bring long dresses to wear.  A “when in Rome” attitude.  It is interesting that in most of the US, women who dress in typical Muslim style are simply viewed with curiosity, but in France, it is a highly contentious issue.  Are the French, who expect immigrants to conform, experiencing a “blind spot” of intolerance?

Also a factor is a country’s degree of diversity.  In Israel, as stated above, people with different views are living in close quarters.  In Canada, the Syrians are a tiny minority.  Perhaps differences can be seen as acceptable as long as the refugees don’t have the numbers to start influencing long-standing policies?

 
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