Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tell you where to put that banner 

Each noon or so when I walk across Atwood Mall to the student union, I see a giant cloth sign with the word "coexistence", with symbols for Christianity, Islam and Judaism inserted into the letters. This banner came here a couple of years ago, along with a lecture about how we must do more than tolerate.
"The word tolerance suggests that one is superior to another. It is saying, 'I am the boss and I will give you some, but not all rights.' Tolerance is the lowest level of acceptance."
I was reminded of this reading something in reading Bill Whittle's Seeing the Unseen (it was worth waiting to read):

Who can argue with this? Not me, certainly.

What I CAN argue with is the idea that if only enough stupid, warlike Americans would just get on the Coexist train, then the world would be a happy and peaceful garden. Who else are the people with these bumper stickers preaching to, if not their ill-informed, knuckle-dragging neocon fellow commuters?

Unfortunately, here�s where reality inserts its ugly head. There is no more multi-cultural society on earth than the United States. The United States owns the patent on Coexisting religions and ethnicities. Drive half a mile though any major US urban area and you will see more ancient ethnic enemies living cheek by jowl in harmony than any other spot on the planet. Thursday morning water cooler conversations about Dancing with the Stars wallpaper over more ancient ethnic and religious murders than history has been able to record, and this despite Hollywood and the news media�s deepest efforts to remind you on a daily basis that the black or Hispanic or Asian or white friend in the next cube is secretly seething with racial hatred just beneath that placid veneer.

Americans are able to coexist because they have subjugated, if not abandoned, those ancient religious and ethnic hatreds to join a larger family, that larger family being America. And this is why, if you truly value the idea of coexistence, you should be dead set against multi-cultural grievance and identity politics, which do nothing but pit one ethnic group against the others and reinforce, rather than dilute, ancient resentments and grievances.

You have to wonder about a community that continues to obsess over something we already do better than anyplace else in the world. Diminishing returns and increasing costs set in at some point.