The problem today is that America has become too tolerant a nation.
Yes. I said it.
Before those of you reading this – seated as you are beneath a framed picture of Barack Obama with your signed copy of “What Happened somewhere close by – totally freak out and then search CraigsList for the nearest for-hire protest/riot, understand what I’m saying.
The symptoms tend to be what we focus on. Currently, those symptoms include things like riots over statues, microaggressions, and the bizarre notion that speech is violence. The vehicle that got us where we are today includes Barack Obama’s eight years of fundamental transformation. What we miss is the affliction itself. That affliction is tolerance.
You see, it used to be that education was all about challenging your own level of knowledge and understanding. For example, in pre-fundamentally transformed America, a young person might be given an assignment to read a book by Mark Twain. The young person would read the book, produce an academic paper based on what he or she learned, and would proceed in life with a broader base of knowledge.
Today, as our fundamental transformation continues to metastasize, education doesn’t work the way it used to. Today, a young person brings to the table a rarefied and often left-leaning world view fueled by Hollywood, the internet, social media, and a host of leftists that occupy faculty positions. These young people grew up in environments where everyone was awarded a trophy, and where their points of view were never subjected to scrutiny. They “are the ones they were waiting for”, to borrow from Barack Obama. In effect, these young people have never been told that they were wrong or that their intellectual understanding was in any way lacking.
Presented with Huck Finn, the natural reaction of these young people is to reject Twain’s work wholesale. Young people will say the book is racist. That it objectifies people of color and doesn’t tell the story from the perspective of women and other marginalized minorities. Instead of reading the book to challenge their own assumptions or validate their own complaints, young people will instead demand the book be removed from their school. In the young person’s mind, they already know everything they think they need to know. Education is simply a process that reinforces what they know.
The sad fact is, they know nothing.
This behavior is tolerated. In the same way a parent may respond to a toddler’s tantrum by giving in and letting the kid have a second and then a third round of ice cream, today’s young adults are similarly coddled by the media, Hollywood, social media, the internet, faculty, etc. If the students at a university riot over a book or a campus speaker, too often the response is to give in. Ban the book. Create reasons for the speaker to cancel his or her speech on campus.
Or in other words, do everything possible to make sure that the young-little-know-it-alls never have to challenge their preconceived notions or prejudices. Instead, reinforce what they already think they know. And tolerate the rot gut ideas their ever narrower sphere of thought produces.
It’s time Americans stopped tolerating the temper tantrums of narrow-minded young adults and instead demanded they step outside their comfort zones and challenge their own worldview.
Image: CC BY-SA 2.0; Excerpted from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/25814091611