How Donald Trump’s vision of diversity divides us too: Cohn
2016/10/17 Leave a comment
Regg Cohn praising tolerance, drawing an appropriate distinction with full acceptance and celebration. And of course, tolerance happens within the context of the Charter and the legal system:
A recent column calling on politicians to espouse tolerance in their public speeches sparked comments from some readers (activists and politicos) criticizing me for using that very word: Tolerance, they argued, bespeaks condescension, superiority, insincerity and negativity.
After all, one tolerates something unpleasant — a loud noise, a bad smell. One has “zero-tolerance” for drugs. Surely we should celebrate diversity, not merely tolerate our differences, these readers argued.
Well, yes and no. To me, tolerance is a worthy objective in itself, because it is eminently realistic and achievable. Here’s how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tolerance:
First, a “willingness to accept feelings, habits or beliefs that are different from your own.” Second, “the ability to accept, experience or survive something harmful or unpleasant.”
Tolerance can, in fact, have a double-meaning — fairness versus forbearance. Which is quite apt.
It’s understandable that many Canadians try to put a relentlessly positive spin on diversity, calling on us to “celebrate” and “embrace” it — appealing to our better angels. But let’s be honest with ourselves.
There’s not always cause for celebration. Not all diversity is delightful.
For example, one can be tolerant of the face-concealing burqa, without necessarily celebrating it. The Islamic call to prayers wafting from a nearby mosque might annoy some neighbours, until they realize that church bells pealing nearby are also part of the religious landscape — and so one tunes out the noise, rather than praying for silence.
Tolerance is an antidote to intolerance and discrimination. We needn’t sugar coat all diversity. Far better to truly understand differences while seeking reasonable accommodation.
Let’s not make tolerance a dirty word. If we persist in pretending that all diversity is positivity, we will quickly get caught out in a lie — and feed the resentment that Trump harvests across America, or that Leitch is mining in the Conservative leadership race.
Live and let live. Even if you don’t always love the lives others lead.
It’s better than living a lie. The best way to defend diversity is with honesty — not defensiveness.