Originally Published: June 24, 2016 6 a.m.
It’s getting really tiresome; the faux angst over the finger-pointing that follows atrocities. In this case, it’s conservative columnist Christine Flowers’ screed (Daily Courier, June 14) in response to a religious homophobic gun-owner who slaughtered an Orlando nightclub’s customers.
A Google search shows Flowers is more than willing to point fingers at pro-choice folks and Hillary, for example, but all of a sudden, when an atrocity places a blindingly bright spotlight on recent Christian intolerance-driven homophobia and hysteria over LGBT rights, and on how absurdly easy it is to access guns, she hypocritically calls for the finger-pointing to stop.
On issues where a substantial minority wants a particular choice or freedom (i.e. guns, abortion, religion), we all need to shut up and let it be. Our democracy fails if we buy into the premise substantial minorities are not to be trusted; if a tax-paying, hard-working, law-abiding, all around good citizen wants the right to own a gun, or to have an abortion, or to go to a church of their choice, then, generally speaking, we need to let it happen even if we strongly disagree with the choices.
Intolerance to the point of actively denying fundamental rights to those one disagrees with is a defining characteristic of groups like ISIS, and other extreme totalitarian systems. I would suggest in recent decades the right-wing has cultivated a comparable extreme, intolerant, whole-pie approach and this has created unnecessary polarization and rotted the foundation of our democracy.
If we can’t handle the extremists in our political process through rejecting those unwilling to respect others’ fundamental rights, what chance do we have for dealing with external ones? If, as Christine Flowers is suggesting, we run from discussions of pressing issues because current events place her views in an unfavorable light, we lose an opportunity to seize the moment and grow, and also to demonstrate the strength of our democracy.
Since tolerance and dialogue are toxic to extremist ideologies, we also have a chance to both lead by example and undermine their effectiveness.