Little tolerance for today’s diverse viewpoints and experiences

The point MacLean Gander makes in “A national dislocation from reality” [Column, March 3] of the importance of how a problem gets defined, who gets to define it, and who then reports on it (hopefully) using “the basic principles of accuracy, fairness, and objectivity” which he also acknowledges as being “shaped in powerful ways by the prevailing culture” seemed more than a little relevant and timely to me.

Recently, I remarked that it seems there is no dialogue any more, no room for questions, and little tolerance for diverse viewpoints and experiences on the central problems that divide us so these days (e.g., abortion, gun rights, race, gender identity, etc.). The current political and social culture in the U.S. seems to be prevailing in nearly complete lockstep.

This seemed even more clear to me when I read Bill Holiday's cautious treatment of civil rights fighter James Bevel, a convicted rapist, in “'The civil rights movement was won by people, not processes'” [Dispatch, March 3].

Holiday, along with his students, witnessed firsthand that Bevel “was openly abusive to his wife” in a public forum. He was, soon after, charged, convicted, and imprisoned for raping his own daughter. Since when, in the early 21st century, do the legacies of men who abuse their wives publicly, and rape their daughters privately, get such gingerly posed consideration under a wrongheaded equivalence with “objectivity and fairness” such that the witnessed spousal abuse and proven rape come to simply present “very interesting and controversial challenges in teaching high schoolers the civil rights movement during the 21st century. Do his predations diminish everything he did during the movement?”

That is certainly a question we need to be asking ourselves daily, given our current prevailing culture that more often views inherent complexity only in binary terms of black vs. white and good vs. evil. Diane Feinstein, Brett Kavanaugh, Al Franken, Amy Coney Barrett, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln come to mind here.

What's more, we unashamedly remain silent on social media at the public excoriation, even at the mockery of suffering, of those with whom we disagree. At the same time, we extol the justification of silencing the noxious “hate” instigated by those we disagree with.

We call for compassion, thoughtfulness, and empathy for those with whom we agree, or sympathize with, but too frequently dismiss existing evidence that questions their claims or beliefs.

We turn our eyes away from “mostly peaceful” mob-fueled violence and mayhem that destroys art in public spaces and calls for removing names from public buildings, all based on judging long-dead historic figures by a singular criterion defined by prevailing 21st-century notions of social justice - at the same time, completely ignoring facts and the diverse historical contexts that existed when they lived.

Lastly, I agree with Gander's position that today “you can't talk to someone who ardently believes in things that are simply not true.” However, I would go further in noting that we also can't talk to those who choose to ignore that which is also true.

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