Limits of tolerance: In engaging the Middle East, U.S. must maintain caution
There is a lot ot talk these days about tolerance.
The word is attached to a variety of topics — everything from race, religion and political philosophy to international relations. It is also the basis for this nation’s political correctness campaign — judging individuals not creating stereotypes.
And in theory it sounds good. Do unto others as they would do unto you and try to careful not to judge an entire group by the actions of a few.
It would be great if the world really worked that way — or if such a philosophy were pervasive around the world.
You can almost imagine a field of daisies and a golden retriever running with children of every race, creed and religious affiliation on a sunlit afternoon. How nice if the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” Coca-Cola commercial could really come true.
But in the real world, while we can strive to achieve the ideal, we have to think about reality and the safety of the future of the country we love and the families we are determined to protect.
That means tolerance has to be tempered with common sense.
Those who think that the problems in the Middle East can be fixed by just getting everyone to sit around a table are not paying close enough attention.
While there might be many who want to create a peaceful world where Islam and Christianity co-exist, there are many more who are out to exterminate the infidels they see as enemies. And right now, we have to make sure we are prepared to keep them from achieving their goals.
They are not approaching the battle with tolerance and an open mind. They are determined to follow what they see as a directive from Allah — and they are going to kill anyone, even a fellow Muslim, who gets in their way.
We can try to understand, to offer a hand, but we will never be able to overcome that calling.
So, tolerance must become reasonable caution. We must continue to watch for the warning signs, the profiles, anything that gives us a clue there might be danger lurking — especially when conditions suggest there is reason to be concerned.
And as we do, we must remember that every person who wears a burka or has a Middle Eastern name is not necessarily a supporter of the Islamic militants or the terror they wreak across the ocean.
Just as every American is not an infidel, every Muslim is not a threat.
So, for now, we must be more vigilant and smarter. We have to think more with our heads and to report suspicious activity when we see it.
We also must be patient with the inspections that are required and the delays they cause.
And we have to remember that tolerance can be responsible, beneficial and instructional if it is accompanied by a little old-fashioned horse sense.
That way, we can offer our hands in friendship while still protecting our shores.
Published in Editorials on July 30, 2007 11:10 AM