James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Political Correctness and Tolerance

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This thread at JeW*SCHooL got me thinking about things. The basic question I have been wrestling with is, ‘How should a Jew deal with political correctness and tolerance in order to further his values within a libertarian framework?’

I think a couple of observations are required before I begin. First, is that from the libertarian perspective, it cannot be wrong to simply be politically incorrect, intolerant, or otherwise rude or impolite. Second, there is a difference between tolerance and acceptance. Consistent libertarians must tolerate much more than those who claim other political viewpoints. However, nothing requires a libertarian to be similarly accepting. In fact, typical liberals tend to be more accepting and less tolerant than libertarians.

With those observations in mind, a libertarian, and particularly a libertarian Jew has much to gain through being polite and politically correct. Jews have been targets of hatred. Our being unnecessarily rude is likely to only inflame any latent, or in some places not so latent, hatred that remains. The same argument applies to libertarians. Though not the target of pogroms and racial hatred, libertarians are marginalized as foul-mouthed pot smoking anarchists. Being polite and respectful towards others is a small thing we can do to reverse this perspective and reverse the distaste others have for us.

We can be honest and polite. All we have to do is show that we are tolerant of those with whom we have serious disagreements. We need to focus on taking issue with particular ideas and actions. We should not focus on taking issue with people or whole groups of people. Most of us have been bad actors at times. Most of us have associations with organizations and groups that have done bad things at times. In the same way our bad acts and associations do not indict our humanity, neither do the bad acts and associations of others. We need to make sure our arguments and language reflect this fact, so that we can get our core messages across and practice our faith. To do otherwise risks becoming unnecessarily inflammatory and thereby risks hurting our interests as both Jews and libertarians. Political correctness is more about language than imposing a viewpoint. If you can make your point without offending others, why not do so?


Written by JamesEJ

Monday, January 3, 2005 at 11:22 am

Posted in other

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