(CCU Faculty) As a professor of European history, I often travel to where tolerance supposedly reigns supreme. Many Europeans consider Americans to be very intolerant. During my last visit to Britain, while in the social hall of an Anglican parish, I endured over an hour long tirade on how ignorant and intolerant Americans were. The speaker was Laurence, a leftwing intellectual and lay leader of the parish, who decried Americans protesting against the mosque at ground zero. I found his arrogance extremely hard to tolerate, as he lumped all Americans together as ignorant bigoted tea partiers, who supported Sarah Palin, whom he equated with Adolph Hitler.
How much should we tolerate? Should I have tolerated Laurence’s tirade? I did. Should we tolerate the mosque at ground zero? I would. But how much do those supposedly tolerant people tolerate me? Do they tolerate those who smoke, those who wear fur, or those who voice their opinions on whether a mosque should be built at ground zero? Continue reading