Gosh darn, it's so dang easy to offend people these days. “Merry Christmas” gets you a lecture on tolerance. “Goddamn” gets you an earful on blasphemy. Even scolding your kids in public could bring down the moral law of a passerby. Mention gays, the war, babies, fetuses (or urtural parasites, if you're pro-choice), you could end up on the wrong end of a political shouting match. Anything could offend anybody today. And the problem is not that it does offend... but that we care.
There are hundreds of thousands of cultures, sub-cultures, political parties, political ideologies, religious churches, sects, interest groups and uninteresting groups like the NRA, NAACP, NOM, NOW, NAMBLA, ACLU, ADF, ADL, AADF, NCAA and even the Federation of Union Carpenters of Kilimanjaro. From communists to pacifists, from atheists to Xenu worshipers, from f***ing for peace to no-swear clubs; the list of people you can and will offend is endless.
America is an accepting and tolerant country. During the times of violence between Christian sects, America was open to all beliefs in the Gospel. Jews has a place in the old America, although, like every other nation, that population was sadly persecuted from time to time. Slowly and surely, America has come to accept all peoples of every creed, color, sexual orientation and so on. While the social situation may not be a prestine social utopia as many want it to be, you cannot be right in the head if you think your minority situation would be better in places like Iran, Syria, China, or even in Western countries like Switzerland, France or the Netherlands. In Iran they hang you for being gay. In China they wipe out entire sects based on their political views. In reaction to the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the Netherlands shows a video to new arrivals that pretty much says “We like boobs and smoke pot. If you don't like this, get the hell out.” You couldn't get that past even the staunchest paper pusher at ICE or the State Department. It may not be perfect here by any means, but its better than most.
The problem with not offending anyone is that you end up with a country like the United Kingdom. The former nation, now pretty much a province of a stronger, undemocratic EU, gives tips to police entering mosques. Things like don't do it, or if you're a woman, wear a headscarf. There are other things like Catholic schools having classes stuffed full of Muslims because they aren't allowed to discriminate based on faith. There are entire sections of London culturally detached from the rest of the city. If you go to these places, prepare for some angry eyes. And it isn't just the UK though. Throughout Western Europe countries deal with mass immigration of cultural aliens that, due to a growing trend of anti-assimilation, feel that the country they live in should change for them instead of the other way around.
I don't think the Left that chides the religious right of America about tolerance could deal with America instituting sharia law so radicalized Muslim immigrants aren't offended, or allowing female genital mutilation because a interest group of Somali tribesmen feel oppressed. These two things, and more, have been done in Europe to sate a growing and radicalized population unwilling or unable to adapt to a more tolerant and open society. If there is common ground between the Left and the Right when it comes to culture, its that America should not change its open and tolerant stance so a large, vocal and sometimes violent minority doesn't have to be a bit more nice to kafirs or goyim or whatever.
Today, at the doctor's office, I sat beside a Muslim woman with several children and a man from the Balkans. They talked about their past; her experiences in Somali and Kenya and his during the Yugoslav break up. The woman showed her three-year old's knowledge of Islamic verse, the little tyke singing a prayer for the man. The man talking about his 6 year old son Amar, a version of the name Omar, which was her oldest son's name. They talked about having it so good here and the man talked about going back to his home, hoping to make it better now that the conflicts were at an end. I sat there just listening to these two people, from two different parts of the world, of different skin colors, cultures and experiences. They found a better life in a state under siege for its “intolerance” because another state voted to ban gay marriage. A pariah state to many, a name spat on at film festivals and gay pride parades. A state that should be abandoned or reformed so it may look like California or New York. A black Muslim woman and a (and I assume this) a Slavic Muslim man came to Utah and found peace, tolerance and a way to better themselves. As I left the doctor's office I smiled. I smiled because in the face of the intolerant “open-minded”, in the face of the fighters of tyrannic “liberators” of culture and religion, my state allowed these two people find hope and peace. A state without racial quotas or forced diversity. Hell, a state that just recently passed a law banning sexual orientation discrimination. And yet, there is no uprising of oppressed Muslims, no mass demonstration of gays, lesbians or trans-gendered. There is no Baptist march for freedom, no ADL worry of new anti-Semitism.
But enough of my Utah bleeding heart, I think you get the idea. In a country and a state of ruffians and uneducated hicks, there is diversity. In a country and a state that doesn't practice over-the-top appeasement of everyone, trying not to offended anyone except the native culture, there isn't cultural, racial and religious turmoil. You don't have Muslims attacking cartoonists with axes or race riots between Italians and Africans. Oddly enough, the freedom to offend coupled with adequate assimilation leads to a more peaceful, diverse and free country.
Freedom. Who would of thunk it?
Cold Weather Forecast - I was in Fresno over the weekend and blogging was sporadic. I missed posting Jennifer Delacruz's forecast. (She's so lovely.) Meanwhile, here's Garth Kemp,...
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