Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tolerance is a Two Way Street

Rex Murphy always gets it. Too bad other don't. Tolerance is a two way street. You can apply this to many social issues that are facing Canada today. For example, same-sex marriage:

Toleration of diversity is a two-way street. If there is available to same sex couples a system of registered partnerships conferring rights and obligations virtually identical to those resulting from marriage then gays and lesbians should be prepared to acknowledge that they are not harmed by a legal code designed to avoid giving what may be seen as gratuitous offence to those for whom matrimony is a holy estate.
(Law Commission in New Zealand found in Kitzinger and Wilkinson, 2004:180)

On the issue of the Pope's "offensive" comments:
Most of the Pope's address was a nuanced exploration of the relations between reason and faith. A good sense of the tone and nature of his talk, which is readily available in full on the Internet, may be taken from this sentence, which contains, as I see it, its central thesis: “Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?”

Hardly a red-flag item, even for the most excitable bull.

It was a few words of that address, which were cited by His Holiness to assist in the illustration of an elegant argument, a quotation from a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, that ignited, or at least has been the occasion for igniting, a great storm across parts of the Muslim world. The quotation and the words leading to it are these: “he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: ‘Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

That one-sentence quotation of an ancient emperor, from an otherwise quiescent address, has set off a fury of anger and outrage. Churches were attacked in the West Bank, there have been demonstrations, and the Pope reviled as another Hitler or Mussolini.

Pope Benedict has invited Muslim envoys for talks, and has twice expressed his regret for the reaction to his lecture, but — and this is not the same thing — he has not apologized for his talk. Nor should he.

The fury in the Muslim world following the Pope's talk seems similar in two respects to the greater fury that followed the publication of those now famous Danish cartoons. The first similarity is that the volume and spread of outraged response gives every evidence of having been mobilized or concerted. That there is here, in other words, a “determination” to display outrage, less as evidence of profoundly wounded religious sensibility, than as political leverage against the West.

Not that I question some Muslims may well have taken deep offence in both instances, but that the offence taken has been magnified, and perhaps manipulated, for secondary motives.
[T]he rhetorical violence visited on Christianity and Judaism (“apes,” “pigs,” “crusaders,” “infidels”) by various Muslim spokespeople is both fervid and frequent, and in some of its expression, utterly eclipses in its ferocity and deliberateness either the bywords of the Pope here, or the famous cartoons.

Tolerance, like its elder, respect, is very much an equal current that flows between two parties. I cannot see how burning churches — as happened in the West Bank — or crude attacks upon, and threats against, the Pope, provide a foundation to calls for “greater sensitivity toward Islam.”

There are precious things in the West, too, two of which are freedom of speech and critical analysis. Storms of outrage, and almost predictable violence after every perceived slight, leaves me feeling that the cardinal values of the West will wait a long time for a portion of that respect that parts of the Muslim world insist upon, immediately and in full, as their due.


Blogger Terror-Free said...

New Pope Shows Spine
Islamonazi CAIR Is Not Impressed - video

Please Call The Vatican Embassy In Washington, DC at (202) 333-7121 to Express Your Support!

Sun Sep 24, 11:15:00 PM EDT  

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