TOLERANT OF INTOLERANCE
By Uriah J. Fields
Dare the self-respecting person be "tolerant of intolerance." far too long and much too often people who call themselves good, righteous or honorable, tolerate intolerance. "Go-along to get-along" is a mantra that is sometimes used by those who describe their behavior and demonstrate that they are co-conspirators with ruthless and evil actors.
A case in point that speaks to tolerant of intolerance: On January 7, 2015, two masked Islamist gunman, Said Kouachi and Cerif Kouachi, brothers in their 30s, armed with AK-47s and shouting "Allahu Akbar" stormed the offices of a French satirical news magazine and killed 12 people, including the editor and two police officers. Too long the people of France, like the people of America, have prized themselves and even celebrated being tolerant of intolerance.
Such practice is like "sowing to the wind and reaping the whirlwind. While discernment an selectivity are necessary in addressing intolerance, let there be neither doubt or hesitation when attempting to deny freedom is the matter of concern. Even if it is about expressing one's opinion about Prophet Muhammad, Jesus or God. Intolerance must not be tolerated or celebrated. To the contrary, it must be, if necessary, aggressively, confronted, strangled and defeated, especially the kind of intolerance fostered by those who maintain that Muhammad, unlike other deities or supposed to be deities, is beyond the personal expression about him, which led to Islamist terrorists killing 12 people at Charlie Habdo Magazine in Paris. Henceforth, lovers of freedom must confront adversaries such as these men not after some horrible atrocities have been committed but before they are committed, by defending freedom of speech in every area of life, without exception. This means not being unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression esp, in religious matters.
Featuring cartoons of Prophet Muhammad is not a danger to anyone. It is a danger to disallow expression about Muhammad by anyone who chooses to do so. If Muhammad is who his true adherents claim him to be, like music, he need not defense, only rendition.
As an African American I know the cost of intolerance. When I was a boy, in Alabama, there were times when I had to walk six miles, one-way to school, passing or being passed by a school bus that picked-up only white children. So called "good white folk," many of them confessing to be Christians, were tolerant of the intolerance causing such to be. They even applauded the fact that black children would not be allowed to ride on that school bus. They were tolerant of intolerance. When I think about this, and I could recount more than a few similar experiences, including my experiences when following the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give her bus seat to a white person I helped to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I know that God was and is now present in my life. I do not object to anyone expressing an opinion about God. Nearly everyone who were permitted to ride that white-only school bus has transitioned to another world where race does not divide people. Since then I have lived nearly fourscore years and counting. Yes, there is a God somewhere. This is my testimony.
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," addressing religious leaders who were tolerant of intolerance writes:
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and
Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I
have been greatly disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost
reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling
block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen
Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate... ."
Although tolerance has a place, even when it interfaces intolerance, the self-respecting person should be careful about how and when, if ever, he tolerates intolerance. The redeemed, have a responsibility to not be tolerant of intolerance, especially when it is about religion, race superiority or tradition. "Out of one blood God made all people to dwell upon the face of the earth."
Who's afraid of being tolerant of intolerance. Not I. Neither are surviving editors of Charlie Habdo Magazine who, one week after the assassination of 10 of their co-workers and two police officers, published the satirical news magazine that featured Prophet Muhammad on the cover. In doing this they declared to the world that being tolerant of intolerance is unacceptable. They have the overwhelming support of French people and most people around the world.
This is not a time for silence or fear. This is a time to speak and declare that people who cherish freedom will protect and defend freedom of expression. In this endeavor may we heed the wisdom of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who during World War II said,
There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Love is stronger than fear.
Copyright 2015 by Uriah J. Fields