Appeasement of irrationality is not the same as religious toleration. To be tolerant, in a rational, intelligent way, means to respect other people’s right to practice their religion, so long as that religion does not include human sacrifice rituals and the like.
Tolerance also extends to the way a person treats another. To maliciously taunt someone of another religion or race – or over some other difference – because of their difference, is certainly a rude and perhaps even threatening act.
But then there there are the “multicultural” excesses of today – excesses that are irrational acts of “tolerance”, which are actually acts of intolerance against Westerners by a few highly infantile, hyper-offense-sensitive members of the Muslim community. And, worse, this intolerance is turned into official policies by members of the Western community in places of authority, anxious to prove to Muslims that they are not bigots.
This cannot result in pleasant relations between Muslims and Westerners living together in the West. Such choices on the part of authorities to ban whatever offends a few Muslims can only lead to a growing resentment against Muslims.
The hyper-sensitive Muslim who demands that all inadvertant offensiveness be banned – offenses of the type described by Mark Steyn here:
is perhaps just incredibly neurotic. Or perhaps he just wants to see how far he can intimidate non-Muslims into complying with the most ridiculous demands, as a power-game and as evidence that the West is ripe to be subdued by the jihadists of Islam. Or maybe he’s trying to sow the seeds of a genuine anger, resentment, and a backlash against Muslims by the less self-controlled infidels, in order to convince more Muslims that the non-Muslim world is against them and that violent jihad is justified.
I don’t know for certain what’s in the minds of those making absurd complaints of offense, but I do know that the right way to respond is NOT to give in to absurdity. It is NOT to forbid non-Muslims from, say, having a tissue-box sporting a picture of Piglet on an office desk.
You’ve got to read Mark Steyn’s column, don’t just try to imagine how ridiculous things can get. It’s already gotten more absurd than I imagined. The exclamation points are still popping out of my head from reading his article.