The age of intolerance
FTLComm - Tisdale - Friday, September 3, 2010

We sure do not have to look far back into the human history of this planet to see glaring examples of various segments of the population, be they of different language, religion or race, from turning toward one another in violence, rage and the intent to inflict pain, suffering and often death upon others. It is a phenomena that may in part be a genetic trait within life forms to expunge differences from a population. We know for example, that chickens will mercilessly kill a chick that is different just as Albino people in Africa today are targeted by their fellow Africans, tortured and sometimes murdered. There is every reason to assume that this sort of thing goes back to the very beginnings of human life when there were more than one species present. (Our species, homo sapiens and the somewhat different but living at the same time as our ancestors the neanderthal.)

The odd thing is that we know better. Just this past hundred years has demonstrated so clearly the craziness of intolerance of those who are different. Catholic Irishmen and Protestant Irishmen have been killing one another since the Reformation. Yesterday 55 Shia muslims we slaughtered by Sunni muslims in Lahore Pakistan and today in Quetta 73 Shias were killed. These people died because they were different and their killers, the Tehrik-e-Taliban are also the folks who are conducting one of several Jihad that seem to be apart of the present era.

We might think that the wars in this past decade that came about from the el Qaeda organized attack on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 in Afghanistan and Iraq are the prime example of modern intolerance but that is hardly the case. While the United States conducted its war on terrorism there was civil war in Sir Lanka with the government of that country bent on exterminating the minority Tamils. In the Sudan the Arab majority has been systematically conducting a genocide war on the blacks of the southern part of the country in Darfur. While Africa is still trying to come to terms with the Rwandan tragedy where the Hutus set out to kill off the Tutsis.

Rwanda genocide really isn't over because a sizeable force of the Hutu rebel group are wandering around the Congo fighting with UN forces and raped more than 200 women in villages over several days two weeks ago.

It is so easy to come up with these examples yet it seems to hard to understand why these really bad things are going on. When Yugoslavia broke up Serbia carried out what became known as "ethnic cleansing" along the lines established by Nazi Germany in dealing with the Gypsies and Jews. The death toll in these actions is beyond our comprehension with at least 6,000,000 Jews killed in Europe as part of Germany's "final solution."

The thing is we are not learning a thing from these examples. In our country we saw the
"Canadian Bill of Rights" set out and pasted into law by the Diefenbaker government in 1958 but it didn't hold up under court challenges and so the government under Pierre Elliott Trudeau enshrined the principles in the Canadian constitution as the "Charter of Rights." The present federal government of this country seems to be running into repeated difficulties with these rights as its actions are overturned in court when the government itself wants to ignore the Charter.

Religion seems to often be the basis for the intolerance we see about us but it is hardly the only thing. In Canada we have a serious problem with cultural bias where Canada's First Nations people are so often the butt of government and societal discrimination. Those people who are homosexual are severely chastised in so many subtle ways that one wonders where is the humanity in our society? But above all the growing intolerance in North America is political.

North Americans, be they living in Canada or United States are somehow loosing sight of the basic concepts of a democratic society. It is pretty easy to blame this on various supposed causes such as religion and ethnic biases but no matter what is causing it, each day we are seeing a growing trend toward the refusal of so many to acknowledge the right of others to a different opinion on a topic.

Last week I wrote a story commenting on the landing of the Tamils in British Columbia and Kevin McIntyre wrote a story contradicting that view. This is as it should be. Michael Townsend wrote about his views of the issue and then he received some extreme reactions to his posting and told me this about what he had learned:
“I sent the link to the article I wrote to a number of people and the responses have been filled with a fear and loathing that I never expected. I thought my message was hopeful but it was read as anything but. I have sold out to the enemy, an enemy who is "flourishing in our midst". “

Last Saturday there was the remarkable situation where a very large gathering occurred in Washington DC lead by broadcaster Glenn Beck. This huge gathering has considerable support in the United States as does Mr. Beck himself, but you really have to think this thing over. Beck is a professional broadcaster who was hired by an extreme right wing politically owned broadcasting network and his job is to champion their political, racial and religious views. He is not a politician it is his job to hold these extreme views and just as remarkable it is the nature of Americans to cloud over economic, political, racial and religious views as though they were genuine.

The United States has a black president and the owners and operators of Mr. Beck's network consider the Democratic president to be something to engender hate and fear in the American population of their leader. Among their issues has been their insinuation that the President is Muslim which he is not, and they have attempted to convince the American public that he is not an American citizen even though it is completely established that he was born in Hawaii. The truth is not something that
Fox news considers to be of any consequence.

Extremist right wing Canadian politicians only a hair's width away from the views of the Canadian prime minister are trying to establish a similar bias network in Canada that would trumpet the extremist views similar to those expressed by
Fox News and the other broadcasters at that network like Glenn Beck. The Canadian bunch call themselves SunNews and are attempting to get the CRTC to allow them on the air even though Canadian broadcasting does not allow biased unbalanced broadcasting as that is simply not in keeping with a democratic society. However, their form of intolerance is a threat to us all, especially to the social safety net of the country.

Canadians are proud of universal medicare which Americans do not and will not have, we are proud of our society and how we as Canadians attempt to treat each other fairly and provide collectively for our needs. It is pretty clear that a huge number of people do not agree with this kind of Canadianism and instead want to see our country more like the United States with its dog eat dog mentality.

The sad thing is that intolerance is the real threat. It is a threat to our way of life here in Canada, it is a threat internationally and ultimately if we don't begin to counter the more extreme views in our world we will be dragged even further into conflicts that make us part of the dark ages or the obscenity of the Roman Empire.