The Tolerance ParadoxMy last post was about the accusation that America, as a whole, was monocultural. I argue that the United States has been far more accomodating of cultural diversity than other nations. In being accomodating of other cultures, we have also been accomodating of the prejudices from these cultures. Notably, the European settlers in the United States tended to maintain their European bias.
BTW, one of the many examples of the reflexive paradox is the observation that a tolerant government would be tolerant of individual prejudices. It is also the nature of Democratically elected governments to reflect the collective prejudices of the people. It is not uncommon for politicians in a free society to encourage the development of prejudices to gain political power. BTW, there has never been a political party that was free of prejudices in some form or another. Anyone foolish enough to believe their political group is free of prejudice is deluded. Those who are intolerant of intolerance are, themselves, intolerant.
On the issue of paradox. Paradoxes lead immediately to conflict. The tolerance paradox means that there is a conflict between American ideals and the actions of individuals. There is not a resolution of the tolerance paradox. We can and should denounce politicians who try to use intolerance (it is myriad of forms) to gain political power. Yet, we must realize that one never achieves their ideals.
The Public School MonopolyLast week the Cato Podcast had a conversation with Neal McClusky (right click and select "save" to download MP3) notes that a driving factor for the establishment of a progressive public school monopoly was a belief that a democracy must have a monoculture to survive. The type of thinking that led to the establishment of the present public school monopoly was very much in sync with the thinking of Hegelian/Marxist mindset that dominated Europe in the 1900s and led to two world wars and vast killing fields.
For that matter, the desire to socialize children and give them all identical educations is routinely used in arguments against charter and private schools ... as we saw in last year's voucher debate.
The American founders did not include instructions on how to set up a public school monopoly in our Constitution. For that matter, one could argue that the present day politically charged public school monopoly is anathema to the beliefs of the founders.
The odd thing is that the public school monopoly, which from its inception was set up to establish a monoculture, markets itself as a bastion of multiculturism, and attacks mainstream America for monoculturism.
The marketing isn't that odd. Exxon/Mobile advertises itself as a bastion of environmental concern and has spent more money on environmental remediation than any other company. The odd thing is that so many people fall for the line.
ConclusionA free society will never rid itself of intolerance. (Free people are free to point out prejudice when they find it, but there is no way to force people from holding intolerant positions without intolerance.) A tolerant society seeks to protect its citizens, but does not seek to control their minds.
As for the state of tolerance, Americans have been fared better than the majority of cultures throughout history. We are still far from our ideal and there is room for improvement.
As for the charge of monoculturism in America, I would point out that the leading source of monoculturalism today is the public school monopoly. Claims that the school monopoly is a source of multiculturalism is the same as saying that Exxon is the standard bearer of environmental action.