The New Tolerance is Intolerance: Why the Rest Hates the West, Part 2

Where the old tolerance allowed hard differences on religionand morality to rub shoulders and compete freely in the public square, the new variety wishes to lock them all indoors as matters of private judgment; the public square must be given over to indistinctness. If the old tolerance was, at least, a real value, the new, intolerant “tolerance” might better be described as an antivalue; it is a disposition of hostility to any suggestion that one thing is “better” than another, or even that any way of life needs protected space from its alternatives.

Meic Pearse, Why the Rest Hates the West: Understanding the Roots of Global Rage (IVP, 2004), 12.

How does this affect the distinctiveness of a certain culture? It muzzles and destroys it. I experienced this first hand a few years ago while taking a doctoral class in philosophy at a Catholic university. After stating my objections to language games and irrationality in postmodern philosophy, I was informed by the Goth female sitting next to me that my dogmatism was oppressing her. If I could just view the world from the bottom of the ladder, as she had to from her post-colonial and feminist perspective, instead of the top of the ladder as a white man, then I would understand why my insistence that truth was better than falsehood was tyrannical and oppressive.

How does this relate to global rage? Peoples around the world have seen an influx of this kind of culture-destroying tolerance coming from the West.

With this shift, the threat to distinctness becomes greatly exacerbated. It is not just totalitarian ideologues who will come into conflict with us Westerners; anyone who cares about their culture, and has enough exposure to us and our way of doing things to be affected by us, will feel threatened (p. 12-13).

This passage by Pearce reveals one reason why there is global rage–the intolerant tolerance of the West erodes the distinctions of culture. And for people that greatly value their culture, this constitutes a threat to be fought.

The next essay from Pearse’s book will address American Common Sense, and how foreign our common sense is to the rest of the world.

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