On Acceptance–So Long As It’s Acceptable


I have many liberal friends, an inescapable consequence of attending a post-secondary education institution in Boston, pursuing a post-college degree in Boston, and obtaining a professional job requiring a high degree of education in New York.  While I obviously don’t share most of their viewpoints, they and I have one thing in common:  we all accept each other’s views for what they are–wrong and/or misguided–but listen to them anyways hoping for those rare moments where we can persuade each other to come to our senses.

Where the collegial relationship collapses–as it so often did in college, law school, and likely at the workplace–is when this idea of acceptance or, heck, even tolerance, disappears.  I like to think that anyone who knows me well understands that, although I am seriously conservative, I take my conservatism in good humor.  There are far too many, those on both ends of the political spectrum, who take themselves way too seriously–the same people whose discussion of politics have little impact in the national course of events because they are fans in the stands and not players in the field, yet critiques, slander, and denounce those very players, the politicians, whose political views translate into actual political difference.

The problem, though, is not just in personality but also in ideology.  For all the claims of acceptance the liberals espouse, far too many are shockingly intolerant.  It is a lesson I so disappointingly learned in college and law school:  people of all race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and mental and physical ability must be fully accepted, embraced, and fostered, but not people of  all political ideology.  Acceptance applies to all except the conservatives, who  need be shunned, mocked, ridiculed, and ostracized.  Far too often, many liberals remind me of Henry Ford who famously proclaimed, when asked about colors for his company’s line of cars, “Any color–so long as it’s black.”

Extremes on both sides are often guilty of the same crime:  insinuations without evidence; mockery without respect; even lack of acceptance without willingness to tolerate.  On the last front, though, at least I take comfort in knowing that the conservatives distinguish themselves from many liberals in one important way: lack of hypocrisy in the core ideal.  I don’t go around telling the world I accept and embrace everyone–then do so only when it’s personally agreeable.  And I certainly don’t go around supporting Barack Obama’s message of change and acceptance, then denounce him for inviting Reverand Rick Warren to the inauguration because the Reverand’s views are, sometimes, not always, disagreeable.  Rather, I, like most other conservatives, believe certain things–most controversially, certain lifestyles–are simply wrong and refuse to accept them, even if I tolerate them as unavoidable elements of the modern society.  We don’t pretend we’re accepting.

The justification for some liberal’s hypocrisy, presumably, is that what they embrace are “right” and “just” while the conservative ideals they reject are “wrong” and “immoral.”  But the conservatives share the same view, only in the reverse.  The liberal rhetoric, then, isn’t really about acceptance and intolerance but rather about right and wrong–notions on which America apparently splits half way.  For the liberals to couch their message in “acceptance,” a tone holier than what it really is–a disagreement of ideas–helps explain why seven years in a liberal educational environment in the most liberal city of the most liberal state have made me no less sympathetic to their cause.

I consider myself educated and, perhaps more importantly, sufficiently clever to intellectually analyze most current events.  Reasonable and intellectual  minds can disagree.  I don’t appreciate the presumptuousness of some liberals who feel the need to emphasize anyone with half a brain would be a liberal.  But since I consider myself to be a sympathetic and caring person, I am most offended by those whose message of acceptance is accompanied by an exculpatory footnote in small print, “Except as to those who disagree.”

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7 Responses to “On Acceptance–So Long As It’s Acceptable”


  1. 1 franklynchusa December 19, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I like and respect your blog. Would you consider exchanging blogroll links?

    I don’t care about whether blogroll links and comments agree or disagree with my views as long as they are witty or intelligent, and your blog is both!!

    The only important thing is that we all have intelligent discussions about how to improve and lift up America for our best possible future, and to lift up every person in America.

    Our future is what we make it, and idiot Congress and moron elected officials have proven by example that if we do nothing, we have no future.

    It helps to have some entertainment, satire and laughs along the journey.

    My blog address is http://franklynchusa.wordpress.com

    Simply name it “franklynchusa”

    If you have time and room,

    My ideological website containing my Presidential campaign that shaped the issues adopted by the other candidates, and has a Top Ten List that America needs, is http://www.franklynch.org

    Kindly please name it either just ” franklynch.org ” or “ Frank Lynch the Futurist “

    With passion for our future,

    Frank Lynch the Futurist
    frank at franklynch dot org

    • 2 joesas January 5, 2009 at 3:00 pm

      Frank,

      Thanks for the comments and the compliment. I completely share in your sentiments that we need to proceed with good humour in whatever we do, but I am less inclined to agree with you that elected officials are particularly moronic.

      I’ve added your blog to my site, making you my first link.

  2. 3 Nellie December 19, 2008 at 10:33 am

    I’ve been thinking about this sentiment for a few days now. That liberals like diversity of opinions, as long as those are their opinions. But you know what, I can live with disagreements about merit pay for teachers, the future of America’s auto industry, guest worker programs, distribution of government revenue, etc etc. What I cannot accept is a belief that I deserve fewer CIVIL rights than you do because of what your CHURCH says.

    • 4 joesas December 19, 2008 at 10:39 am

      Nellie,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I see your point, and I have many friends who disagree with your point of view. I’d express my point of view, but it’s really not relevant to my post so it suffices to note that I disagree with various aspects of the position.

      It’s fine for you not to accept my beliefs. In fact, it appears to me that it’s necessary for you to do so. The point of my post was, so long as you don’t claim that your views make you more accepting of others than I am, I can live with that (and if you wish, engage in a collegial, intellectual dialogue about why I disagree with your views, and can’t accept them any more than you can’t accept mine).

  3. 5 Chris Schroeck December 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    First off, I think that our current conceptions of “liberalism” and “conservatism” are all screwed up, but that’s not really responsive, and I can, and did, before deleting it, write a whole lot on that topic.

    I generally respect the views of others, and can see their merit. (Although I think that Joe is wrong about probably half of his politics, at least…I would only vote for him if he promised me some sweet administrative role in exchange.) I generally agree that people at the extremes are annoying and out-of-touch. However, I think there’s an important distinction to be made about tolerance of individuals’ views versus tolerance of individuals, period. For instance, I can see no justification for not being able to accept people because of their race, ethnicity or national origin. However, and to take an extreme example, I can see plenty of reason to be intolerant of the viewpoint that the U.S. ought to kill off all immigrants. See, some viewpoints are so reprehensible that they do not deserve my respect, whereas no person is innately so reprehensible that he or she does not deserve my respect.

    I’m not saying that Republicans support genocide, by the way, I am just saying that there is sometimes a valid reason to be intolerant of a viewpoint. And if it is your true belief, for whatever reason, that the government primarily started the war in Iraq in order to kill some innocent Arabs, I can see why you might be intolerant of the view that the Iraq war was justified. (I don’t believe that. I believe that Bush is a good person who is simply incompetent as a president, and was pressed into action by more intelligent, and less good people, as well as crummy intelligence.)

  4. 6 joesas December 19, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Chris,

    Indeed, conceptions of conservatism and liberalism are constantly changing. I’m always reminded, and I always remind people, that neither party particularly cared about abortion three decades ago, and Republicans of 1970s would be appalled by the social conservatism of today.

    Truth be told, the odds are that at best, I’m right on half the issues because, well, that’s basically the ceiling of my batting average of anything in life.

    But I see your point between distinguishing people and ideas, a distinction I certainly make. And although I hate to make this argument (since I’m a black and white kinda guy), the difference between idea and people are far too obscured (not by me, but by others). For example, I personally am against same sex marriage but that doesn’t mean I hate gays. And while I understand that the issue of right to marry is a “personal” matter, I think it’s a difference of viewpoint: whether a marriage or a civil union is a right; whether distinction based on sexual orientation is “discrimination” to be condoned socially or constitutionally, etc. I certainly don’t appreciate being personally attacked as “hateful” for what I believe are essentially differences in viewpoint. I can tell you that on numerous occasions, I’ve received quite a hostile personal treatment, a treatment I simply didn’t understand. That’s a real turnoff.

  5. 7 Chris Schroeck December 19, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Ideally, the whole marriage issue should not exist. I have no idea why the government got involved in “marriage”. If I had my way, the government version of marriage (for everyone) would be called something much more neutral such as “domestic partnership” and would be available to any two or more people. If the government wants to bundle certain rights and offer them under a single name, that’s the way to do it. I have no idea how Republicans can think that the government is so bad at administering social programs but so good at social engineering as to decide what structure of family is most appropriate for everyone. In my opinion, government is equally bad at everything so we should ask it to do as little as possible.

    Marriage is a religious institution. Let churches decide how to define it.


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