Apr 042007

“Tolerance” is a weird word. Say it; it just sounds funny. And its meaning is even funnier.

Dictionary.com’s pronunciation key for “tolerance” is “tol-er/-uh ns,” but the T. Sides’ Dictionary key looks like this: “taller-ants,” meaning, in the original Latin, “ants of tall stature.” (I’m still shopping for a publisher.)

But as we all know, the “real” definition of “tolerance” is, according to Dictionary.com, “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry,” and the “interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.”

Wonderbar. I wish the academic world, a supposed bastion of tolerance, would practice what they preach.

For the entire month of March, Morgan Library dedicated its “Check Out Our Books!” display in the main lobby to the academic world’s unofficial religion of evolution. On its Web site, Morgan Library encouraged students to “explore evolution.” Some of the featured titles included “On the Origin of Species,” “The Human Fossil Record” and “The Origin and Evolution of Cultures.”

I noticed the display every time I came and went through the library. Now that March is over, I wonder if the library will allow creationism/intelligent design to be showcased for the entire month of April. That would only be fair and tolerant.

I also noticed that the library chose the edition of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” that didn’t print the book’s full name on the front cover; that full title being “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Hmm.ol’ Charlie Darwin didn’t sound too tolerant, did he?

In February, the library’s “Check Out Our Books!” correlated with the month’s over-arching theme of Black History Month. I sincerely hope that someday there will be a White American Month so that I, too, may feel special and honored. And when White American Month becomes a reality, I sincerely hope that Morgan Library, in their month-long dedication to White Americans, includes books about Irish-German-English-Americans, so that I, too, can read about my ancestors. That would only be tolerant.

Oh, more suggestions for the academic world, and more specifically CSU. Back in early March, a “sex fair” was held in the Lory Student Center, and last October, CSU proudly helped support National Coming Out Day. For the record, I have no problem with people attending or sponsoring “sex fairs” or National Coming Out Day. It’s a free country. But in the name of tolerance and equality, I think CSU should look into sponsoring a kind of “morality day” or “morality fair,” in which the Judeo-Christian worldview, beliefs, and ethics are adequately showcased and supported. President Penley, please contact me for input. I would love to help.

And last September a “town hall” meeting was held in the LSC entitled “Islam in America: Hope, Not Hate,” at which the three speakers took turns bashing America but found time to commend terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. Town hall meetings are supposed to include multiple voices and perspectives, but only one perspective was heard in September’s gathering. I hope CSU will diversify the perspectives by adding a conservative voice to the next town hall meeting.

Noticing a pattern yet? While postmodernism – the ruling worldview of the academic world – touts high praise of tolerance, its followers do a poor job living out their beliefs. Liberals are intolerant of certain beliefs, especially Christianity and conservatism, because they deem those beliefs “intolerant.” In a worldview that doesn’t like to “judge” anyone, postmodernism/liberalism establishes itself as the judge of what to tolerate and what not to tolerate.

So it’s not surprising to me when Ellen Goodman, writing in the Boston Globe, levels the charge that “global warming deniers are on par with Holocaust deniers . . .” It’s not surprising that Al Gore calls global warming a “moral” and “ethical” issue. So if I think global warming is a crock, myth, etc., then am I immoral? Am I a Holocaust denier?

Apparently tolerance is melting like Greenland.

I’ve never understood what’s so great about tolerance anyway. Where in history do we read about great people who found hope in tolerance? Tolerance used to be agreeing to disagree; now, disagreeing or thinking certain beliefs are “wrong” is completely unacceptable. But isn’t that intolerant? Shouldn’t the postmodernist view of tolerance tolerate even the most intolerant beliefs?

G.K. Chesterton once said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”

Amen. But maybe he was wrong. Maybe tolerance has become the virtue of liberalism and postmodernism, a virtue in which anything goes. And if not anything, then the virtue defeats itself. It’s like Alexander Hamilton said, “If you stand for nothing you fall for anything.”

Trevor Sides is a senior speech communication major. His column appears every Thursday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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