Many would take the position that tolerance is a virtue that everyone should cherish and practice. It’s highlighted as one of the hallmarks of a modern and progressive society.
However, tolerance can actually be deadly if it’s take to its logical conclusion: tolerating those who want to transform our country as we know it.
To practice tolerance as an end in itself paradoxically requires us to accept the possibility that one day our country may choose to eradicate tolerance (as well as all the other rights and freedoms we enjoy).
Karl Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance encapsulates this dark conclusion:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.
The question of what should be tolerable is especially pertinent today, given that globalism is the dominant political, moral, and economic philosophy among the elite in our society. People of many different political persuasions, religions, and cultures are being brought together like never before in history.
Can diverse groups of people live peacefully together and engage in civil discourse to address problems that may arise in a multicultural society?
The majority of Canadians believe in tolerance. This is obvious, and doesn’t warrant much skepticism. The question should be “Do the people emigrating to our country believe in tolerance?”
Demographic changes should not be taken lightly. They have the ability to drastically transform the culture of a nation. While the process of this transformation may be slow, the changes may be irrevocable.
Reciprocity and trust are both necessary for a well-functioning and cohesive society. Everyone must adhere to, embrace, and impart to their children, the agreed upon cultural norms that reflect the nation. One group of people cannot have special privileges and rights while another group of people is denied these same privileges and rights. What we expect of ourselves we must also expect of others, and vice versa.
If enough people enter Canada that don’t believe in tolerance, it will slowly degrade. The tolerant will eventually be overwhelmed by the intolerant. The erosion of reciprocity and trust may lead us down this path.
A logical companion of tolerance is another so-called Canadian virtue: diversity.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Diversity is our strength” incessantly in political speeches, university campuses, and the media. It’s heralded as a testament to our multicultural ethos, an attitude that we should strive to move past the rigidity and purism associated with ethnic nationalism.
However, do the people we are letting into our country from around the globe also believe that “diversity is strength”? There is the possibility that they will integrate and absorb our values, but what if they swell to such large numbers that the incentive to integrate becomes much less desirable? What if they decide that tolerance is not a virtue and that diversity is poisonous? What if they decide to preserve their own culture instead, despite it being perfectly incongruent with ours?
When tolerance and diversity are enshrined as paramount virtues, we must be prepared for the possibility to lose both, and perhaps everything else as well. If you open the door wide enough, the Devil will eventually come in.
Given the very possible negative outcomes that could manifest as a result of unchecked tolerance and diversity, I personally have adondoned them as virtues, though not without reluctance (I’ve been a classical liberal most of my life).
If we wish for Canada to preserve the current values that we all know and revere, we must defend it from those who aim to destroy it. There is no virtue is tolerating cultural suicide.
Popper, K. (1947). The Open Society And Its Enemies. London, England: George Routledge & Sons.