Tolerance Doesn't End at My Accepting You.

It seems ridiculous to even address it. For me, and so many others, it's just obvious. It's not tolerance unless you actually have to tolerate something. So let's start with a definitiion:

tolerate /ˈtɑːləˌreɪt/ verb

tolerates; tolerated; tolerating

[+ object]

1 : to allow (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) to exist, happen, or be done

  • Our teacher will not tolerate bad grammar.
  • Racist or sexist behavior will not be tolerated.
  • I can't tolerate that noise.
  • The government cannot tolerate lawlessness.
  • How can you tolerate such laziness?

2 : to experience (something harmful or unpleasant) without being harmed

  • These plants tolerate drought well.

3 : to accept the feelings, behavior, or beliefs of (someone)

  • I don't like my boss, but I tolerate him.

If you like black (and you can substitute here hispanic, muslim, white, progressive, women, gay, young, . . . ) people, and you think everyone else should too, you are not being tolerant. If you try to impose your particular bias for black people upon others, especially if it is to show how good you are, you are not calling for tolerance. This is instead virtue signalling, “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue.”

And when you demand special treatment for a group based on some similar characteristic, you are calling for discrimination:

discrimination /dɪˌskrɪməˈneɪʃən/ noun

plural discriminations

1 [noncount] : the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people

2 [noncount] formal

a : the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not

b : the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing

And the thing is we do discriminate, and that's not a bad thing. We choose our friends based on certain characteristics. We choose our favorite ball team. We choose to hang with people who have the same interests. In fact, our ability to discriminate in this matter is a right enshrined in our constitution as “freedom of association.”

When discrimination is wrong is when we unfairly treat a person or group differently, or afford different rights to a person because of his membership in a particular group.

And it's certainly not discrimination when you are complaining that you are not getting your way. And this is exactly where Ms. Clinton went wrong this week, with her remarks that the time for civility is over. For her, President Trump is the Chief Deplorable, and something not to be tolerated. And President Trump also crosses the line, a lot.

It seems indeed we've taken intolerance to a new level. It now appears de rigueur to be intolerant of other's intolerance, and this is taking discrimination to an unacceptable place. It is the place that demonization starts to occur.

It is the place we stop seeing the other as someone who wants the same thing, but has different ideas about getting there, and start seeing him as monster who wants to destroy “our” way of life. It is the place of civil war.

And Ms. Clinton perhaps would argue that it is not unfair to treat people to whom she ascribes a certain value system differently, that this is the good kind of discrimination.

But can you then claim to tolerate? If it's not a stretch for you to “to allow to exist, happen, or be done,” you are not tolerating.

And that is the basest level of a civil society. If we want to thrive, we should be taking on a much bigger context, like maybe that I have something to learn from this person across from me.

Such an attitude might actually lead us somewhere. Maybe more of us should try it out.

Condolences to the McCain Family

I will leave it to the historians to argue about Senator McCain's legacy. At this point, it matters not. He has done his service.

All that there is to do now is offer my condolences to his family.

Every man fills a space, and for Senator McCain's family, that space is now empty.

May they be comforted by his memory. And may they live to make him proud.

It's easy to stand on the side and criticize. Whether we agreed or not, we should take heart that there are people who will step up to serve, And if we don't or didn't agree, perhaps now is the time to stop criticizing and step up.

Thank You Senator McCain for your service.

Reason to be Hopeful

Reason to be Hopeful

unsplash-logoPaul Dufour

So I haven't written in a while. I've created for myself a challenge so that I can responsibly fund my life and be on the road campaigning, and I've let my posts slide.

To be truthful, I also agree with a lot of what President Trump says he is trying to accomplish, and while he may be a little more brash than we might expect from a proper statesman, he's also saying what needs to be said, and confronting power structures which do not operate to our advantage.

And I've been thinking a lot about how my campaign should look. And thank G-d to all the conversations that our digital age is making possible, I think there is good reason to be hopeful.

We are living in dangerous times, it's true, but we can thank President Trump for allowing us to see the threat. There is no doubt that President Trump received support from the far-right, and even pandered to that crowd. You can read Make America Great Again any number of ways, from “make it lily white again,” which it never actually was, to restore the freedoms that have been frittered away through 231 years of government as usual, to “restore the oppressive patriarchy,” which interpretation is giving us the most fun at the moment.

But the threat that's been made clear isn't President Trump. He's not a threat. He's a calculating reality TV show personality enamored of himself trying to win in a new show. He hasn't organized any brown shirts, and couldn't if he wanted.

And even the most conservative judge he could nominate, if he were approved, wouldn't be but a nudge back toward notions of original intent. We're all clear by now that states can actually afford more “rights” to a citizen than the constitution requires.

So what's the threat? It's the people who are happy to talk rights, and respect, and democratic process, that is until it doesn't go their way. It's the people who talk about respect for their group, but dismiss anyone who voted for Trump because they place everyone who voted for him in the same group.

It's the people who teach our children that the only thing is power, that white men control and wield it inappropriately as a rule, and therefore we must take them down.

And what would they replace it with. A kinder, gentler power structure, run by them of course, policing not just against bad conduct, but against bad ideas, and also being the arbiters of what is a bad idea.

It's the thought police who have driven comedy off of campus, who shout down those speakers brave enough to try to bring a disparate idea to campus.

It's the thought police who would end a celebrity's career, especially if he leans a little right, because of an ill-formed tweet, or because he hit on the wrong person.

And it's also the powers at Google and Facebook who shut down and demonetize thought that does not jive with a certain viewpoint.

So Why Be Hopeful?

There's now a whole world of folk on-line, people like Joe Rogan, Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro, and brave people taking unpopular stands against hate, like Sarah Haider, Bret Weinstein, and Jordan Peterson. And I just want to send a shout out to folk like Mike Rowe, who keeps showing us what is good about America.

The thing about these people is, though they swing from left to right, religious to atheist, and all sorts of other places, they all share a commitment. Put them all in a room, and they'd engage in a civil discourse with the intent of walking out smarter, better human beings.

They, and especially Jordan Peterson, are giving people permission to think for themselves again, are calling them to boldly take responsibility for their own lives, and are inviting them to own their own humanity.

They realize that the logical end-point of identity politics is that each person belongs to a unique set of groups, and therefore what we must celebrate is the individual, and painting with a broader brush is just an excuse to garner and abuse power “in the name of . . . .”

And their influence and following are growing. They are calling out the lies of the radicals on both right and left, and sharing the danger apparent such that we can all wisely choose.

And that's what this campaign is about. It's about continuing that conversation. It's about giving each American the space to own what is special and powerful about himself. It's about eliminating the structures that keep us beholden to ideas other than our own (which only starts with “draining the swamp”). It's about allowing people to see a full picture, to allow each person to declare and then live into his own American Dream.

It's potentially a scary place, but the path our forefathers intended for us, the one that has taken us to great heights, the one responsible for our ever improving world. We should have the freedom to boldly enter into our particular unknown, to confront and slay our own dragons, and not let others declare what we should be disturbed by and where to exert our energies.

Because it is when we are free like that that miracles occur. It's that fact that Americans can dream that people want to be American. And it is our freedom that ensures each can choose to live into his own dream.

Fascism: The Myth of a Kinder, Fairer America

Fascism: The Myth of a Kinder, Fairer America

unsplash-logoToa Heftiba

Donald Trump raised some eyebrows recently. He pissed off the rest of the G7 and then went and met with tyrant Kim Jong Un. CNN says we should worry, a lot.

Why exactly? Because he is an autocrat. He “conjure[s] a feeling of victimhood around himself, his followers and the nation.” According to Dr. “Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, . . . the idea of victimhood is an essential component of the methodology of many autocrats.” Now it might be fair if CNN disclosed its quite cozy relationship with this NYU professor, but why muddy up a good meme with admissions of bias.

She might be right. President Trump might have autocratic tendencies, but her political analysis seems to start and stop there.

When, in this day and age, you can only see fascism on one side of the political spectrum, you might want to look in the mirror and see if that appellation applies likewise to yourself.

On what record was President Obama elected. He was black, but if you suggest that—particularly in a blue state–you are immediately labeled a racist.

On what did Bernie run? He at least had a record, but he was as populist as Donald Trump, the champion of the 99% who were/are the victims of the 1%.

It is our luck that he was maneuvered out of his position by another power-hungry professional victim, who seems to blame everyone but herself for her 2016 loss. Hillary holds her own with the 99%: Column

Our Kind of Fascism is Better than Yours

The call seems to be to a kinder, fairer, more sympathetic culture, but you don't even need to scratch the surface to see a “culture of victimhood” instead:

  • Antifa, asserting to be left,wears masks and carries weapons in an attempt to silence those it doesn't like.
  • A day of absence turns into a season of rage, costing a celebrated, left-leaning Biology professor, Dr. Bret Weinstein, his job. New York Times: When the Left Turns on Its Own.
  • If a person suggest that All Lives Matter, he is committing a “racial microagression.”
  • When Google engineer James Damore actually shares his thoughts in an invited conversation on diversity policies, he is fired.
  • Employers are counseled to police offensive opinions. Post-modernists give up the reasonable person standard and tell us that we must judge this from the subjective feelings of the person who claims offense, especially when it is in the name of her status or race or sexual proclivity.
  • Safe Spaces:
    College Republicans Kicked Out of Coffee Shop Over MAGA Hats

And while you may claim that these do not all represent outrages of the left, you don't exactly see the Democrats drawing a line as to what is not acceptable in their name. Perhaps they could start by declaring their outrage against calls to impeach President Trump just because he is Donald Trump.

The problem is that every time someone tries to ensure one safe space by shutting down the opinions of another, that other is arguably made to feel unsafe.

And it's the assertion of the right to that safety that is fascist. When only one opinion is correct, or when I am not allowed an opinion because I am white, or male, or Jewish, I am oppressed.

We Have No Right to be Free from Offense

It's just not in the constitution. Unfortunately, too many think it should be a part of our law, and in some places it is, like Canada.

People are mean. People are cruel. People are motivated by hate and jealousy. People have bad ideas. But trying to suppress thoughts has never made them go away. It's made us into a nation of smiles and daggers. It seems there are few places where people still feel free to mouth an opinion counter to the local orthodoxy.

Fortunately, this is mostly in words. And CNN is right to point out that fascism is preceded by enrollment into a culture of victimhood. But CNN ignores the bigger picture. Both sides are fighting to show how they are the bigger victim.

In the US, at the moment, the right is in ascendancy. But let's look a moment to Canada, where it seems the left is. Trudeau and Trump are right to hate each other. They are both fighting for the same space. If you don't know it yet, the thought police are out in full-force in Canada. Just check out bill C-16 (and ask why CNN has not reported on this fascist tidbit).

And while both seem to celebrate their own righteousness, we all know that the truly righteous don't need to prove it to anyone.

Personal Responsibility

But there is another possible position. We stop competing for who is the bigger victim, and claim responsibility for our own lives and choices. We can't make people nice. But we can let them spin their wheels to see what idiots they are. But we don't, and that's why we are living in this Trumpian backlash.

We are literally living in the best of times.
Bill Gates: My new favorite book of all time. We have an epidemic of obesity. We have an opioid epidemic. We have an epidemic of unemployable college graduates. And instead of getting off our asses and doing something about it, we just demand more. Perhaps the best way to drain the swamp is to stop looking to it for our support. And whlle it's scary to take the first few steps on your own, maybe the best thing we could hope for is for our politicians to turn off the spigot. When we've got nothing to fight for, we lose our fight.

Maybe the best guarantee against our “fascist” tendencies would be to get out of our own way, to give ourselves permission to win or fail on our own, to know ourselves as people who can speak freely, and learn from each other.

And maybe it takes a new party, the people in the middle who believe in you, and who know that when you have the space to take care of yourself, the rest will take care of itself.

And maybe it just takes a stand, a commitment to not let ourselves by cowed by the likes of of Trump, or Trudeau, or any governing “orthodoxy.” Maybe our job is to determine our own meaning, and our means of living into it. It's the only thing that has ever made a difference anyway.

Memorial Day, 2018

Memorial Day, 2018

unsplash-logoKapil Dubey

I think it's worth honoring this day not only those who gave their lives, but also that which would compel a person to serve in the first place.

And this is an idea, enshrined in our constitution, that each and every person matters, that each voice be allowed to speak, and that we, all of us, are adult enough to be able to bear the thoughts and ideas of others, that the worst that will happen is that we will learn something.

They died that we may be free, that we may have the opportunity to take responsibility for our own lives, that we may invent, and grow, and pray, and play, and be ourselves.

And we may remember too that we made mistakes along the way, that people died and suffered who didn't need to, that people still do. But this doesn't dim the vision.

We are human. We are not perfect. But we do hold to a vision, to an ideal, to the notion that striving for it is worth our while and our lives.

And it is the men and women who have served that made this life and the near limitless opportunity before us possible.

Thank You. May we live our lives so as to honor what you have bequeathed us.