Hi Solipsis,

I think I’ll address your points in reverse order, since your last point seems the most immediately relevant to anything else I might say —

What makes you think you are in the position to tell others what is or is not optional?

I very clearly state in the intro paragraph on every one of my articles that you are reading an opinion. These are my views, not law, not directives from on high. I’m just a man. Feel free to disagree with me. So I would invite you to read this article and others I might write as an exercise in opinion; when I say what I do or do not believe to be optional, you may freely disagree with me, as this is a turn of phrase and not an enforceable mandate.

Moving a bit further down that line, as I stated quite early in this series, I think it’s easier to read someone’s (relatively) anonymous thoughts on many subjects online, behind the facade of a screen name — it takes all the emotion out of your decision to trust… or not. I could have seven Ph.D’s and be a fortune 500 CEO. I could be a janitor at a middle school who never graduated high school. I could be a .com billionaire, or I might work for a .com billionaire as the lowest paid person in the company. I might not be male, or white, or short, or tall, or whatever. Take a look at my arguments, make your judgement, make your choice.

That being said, I strongly believe that American citizens who are not extending a minimum of tolerance and acceptance to their fellows are being hypocrites of the highest order at the very least, and quite possibly in violation of several laws, depending on their expression of intolerance, under our current legal system. I think I’m on fairly safe ground there, for reasons which I outlined in the article. Even a passing glance at history has a lot to tell us about societies which did not exhibit this modicum of tolerance and acceptance. One of the things I think makes America special and still a force of good in the world is that we have this expectation in our culture now, and a lot of places don’t.

… before you start issuing edicts to people and talking down to them…

I didn’t write this article to talk down to anyone, but I did forcefully make a point, and if that offends you, then don’t read any more and go do something else. As one of my other commentators and I agreed, there is no right to freedom from offense in this country, just a right to equal treatment under the law.

No, you see, it is only wrong to discriminate against others if you are committed to building a system in which people do not get to choose for themselves who they would like to live with.

I absolutely do not see that, and I refute that argument in the strongest possible terms. There are many fine reasons to avoid discrimination, even or perhaps especially if you’re not planning on living with or near the other party. I actually have a series of articles planned on that subject, as it happens, so stay tuned.

But just using your premise, I think it’s a little dodgy to try to live in a free country and get to choose who you want to “live with.” We have the right to choose our own dwellings and roommates, obviously, and if we don’t like our neighbors, we are of course free to move. But I don’t think that you can have a free country where you also prevent neighbors of a particular color or creed from moving in without due cause. Unless of course you’re making the argument that you don’t want to live in a free country. After all, someone might make the argument that they don’t want you moving in next door, and that’s really no business of theirs if you’re conducting your business in an above-board fashion and are not in violation of the law.

Why is it morally wrong to exhibit intolerance in the modern world? Are you saying it’s only immoral now, but has been okay in the past?

To my way of thinking, tolerance is a virtue under almost all circumstances, with notable exceptions following the Harm Principle. So no, I don’t think intolerance has ever been a virtue of the species or nations of the past. I simply use the phrase “modern world” because that’s the one we live in, and the series is titled the Modern Survival Guide, not the Historical Survival Guide.

A nation is a single people with a common background, culture, or system of belief.

Yes it is. And the key word, the one that this article and logic hangs on, is the word “or.” America was not founded on the premise of a common background, culture, or religion, but we were founded on a system of belief, which we loosely term the American Dream these days. That’s why people come here, it’s what makes us American, and it’s what makes our country special. So I reject your argument that I am using the term “nation” incorrectly.

The rest of your first paragraph smells a lot like the extreme interpretation of the “Salad Bowl” argument, to which I also do not subscribe. Yes, we have a lot of immigrants from different places, with strange names and unfamiliar customs. No, that is not any different from any period of American immigration. People were making the same arguments about the Irish in the mid-late 1800s, and before them the Germans, and the Jews caught hell on a regular basis too, not to mention the various Asian peoples!

I think part of this argument comes from a mischaracterization, or perhaps a bad expectation, of the assimilation timeline of new groups into the US national culture. Integration isn’t a single-generation phenomenon, and it never has been, but our country has a pretty solid track record of getting around it it eventually. With that in mind, I’m fairly confident that I can make the prediction that in another fifty or sixty years we’ll probably have someone with the surname Rodriguez complaining about those dirty, dirty Czechs (or whoever) who are coming over to steal our way of life. That won’t be a good argument then, and it’s not now.



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