Friday, January 06, 2006

Tolerance of Intolerance and the Decline of the West

Work's had me all over the country this past week, and I'm still not home, but I can't pass up the opportunity to comment on Mark Steyn's piece, "It's The Demography, Stupid." As Hugh Hewitt notes, Steyn's piece makes for gloomy reading:

Yet while Islamism is the enemy, it's not what this thing's about. Radical Islam
is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It's not the HIV that kills you, it's the pneumonia you get when your body's too weak to fight it off. When the jihadists engage with the U.S. military, they lose--as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. If this were like World War I with those fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the battlefield, but they figure there's an excellent chance they can drag things out until Western civilization collapses in on itself and Islam inherits by default.

Steyn's long piece is well worth a read. I have never been a big advocate of predicting the decline of the West, not because I don't think it's happening (I do) but because I don't think people listen when one starts talking that way. Steyn's argument is exceptional, however, and carefully reasoned. One Steyn point caught my eye: The notion that we in the West are so tolerant of intolerance (in the form of radical Islam) that we have assumed a suicidally supine position with respect to those who would like to end our freedom-loving way of life.

A well-known organizational behavior author I respect, Stephen Covey, teaches that it's important in all human interaction to balance courage and consideration. In other words, respect and understand the views of others, by all means; but also stand up-- and stoutly-- for your own views and values. It's the second half of that equation that we in the West seem to be neglecting. Tolerance for "the other" seems to be everything, without demanding (or even expecting) any tolerance in return.

Who would have thought that the failure to observe such a simple and inoffensive principle could lead to such a disastrous consequence as the loss of an entire society?


Anonymous BlueBuffoon said...

In reading Steyn's piece yesterday, I couldn't help thinking that, in watching events unfold in connection with the hospitalization of Ariel Sharon, we may be seeing a portentious instance of how catastrophic and myopic (or at least naive) the "supine tolerance" position can be. The West (including, to a certain degree, the United States) continually pressures Israel to make concessions with no reciprocation of peaceful overtures from the Palestinians, let alone even a bit of tolerance. Sharon, who understands more than a little the real danger that Israel faces, moves in that direction even to the point that the "peace process" may actually result in a Palestinian state. But his plan includes measures (such as the wall) to bolster Isreali security. His reward? Howling or worse from "the West."

Now, without even considering what might well (will?) ensue in Sharon's absence, the Palestinian street erupts in jubilation at Sharon's hospitalization. One can only imagine the celebrations if he should pass away--even if that means the end of what really has appeared to be the best hope for a peaceful compromise. Do we need any clearer evidence that radical Islamism has any objective other than the annihilation of Isreal--and by extension the West? But I have no doubt that the cogniscenti in the West will wring their hands when the Isreali electorate inevitably refuses to elect those approved by the European Union, but whose lack of backbone would only ensure the end of the State of Israel. The rest of us in the West are fortunate enough, at least so far, not to have faced the constant threat that Israel has endured since its inception. But we ought to be able to read the warning signs that are there for us. 

Posted by BlueBuffoon

Friday, January 06, 2006 9:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jettboy said...

Who would have thought that the failure to observe such a simple and inoffensive principle could lead to such a disastrous consequence as the loss of an entire society? 

I think this is one of the most important Conservative commentaries in the last decade. As I said in my blog feature The Future is in the Past  the essay has said what I have been thinking since 9/11 happened. The Muslims are a very strong willed and religious society that secularists have no concept about dealing. They are too busy trying to oppress the "less obnoxious" democracized religious people; such as Christianity has become. As such, they cannot deal with people who don't hold to the same substrata standards (regardless of the differences of opinion) that most conservative Western religious people hold. For good or ill, I think that Islam will be the death of classical liberalism (i.e. Democracy) in the West; and the irony is that only the western conservative religious people who have been labelled intolerant understand that possibility. 

Posted by Jettboy

Saturday, January 07, 2006 9:33:00 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Tolerance breeds intolerance? How can this be?

Historically, the indecent minority has only been able to succeed due to the indifference of the decent majority. Understanding other cultures and peoples is a wonderful approach to life, but enabling intolerant cultures (that seek to restrict our own freedoms) is where we must draw the line.

Read on to find out more...

Sunday, November 22, 2009 1:55:00 PM  

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