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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Independent thinking trampled in the rush to the extreme left or right

Attend most public meetings these days and you are assaulted with shouts of anger and other aggressive behavior, which often is described by participants as “peaceful protest.”

When surfing the Web, it takes much effort to ferret out balanced argument from the millions of words expressing anger at and intolerance of other people’s points of view. Polarization of views is the norm. If you are a socialist, everything conservative must be disparaged. Conservatives must deride all socialist/liberal views. And on it goes – independent thinking trampled in the rush to the extreme left or right.

Fortunately, most of time, this behavior can be ignored as boorish or simple bullying, but every so often it crosses the line and manifests itself as terrorism. Unfortunately, we all too often see examples of those who have crossed the line.

The way I see it, intolerance, when left unchecked, breeds extremism. Our opponents quickly become our enemies. And intolerance tends to breed more vigorously in closed, tight-knit communities, where views too easily become hardened and unchallenged.

In Canada, I am afraid that we have too many closed, tight-knit communities with divided loyalties and values that are inconsistent with the general norm. And these communities escape challenge because of blind adherence to political correctness. Such communities contain self-interested parties who quickly close ranks and claim racism or some other form of bigotry in defense of those interests, regardless of whether or not they are in Canada’s best interests.

I hear a lot about peace, tolerance and goodwill, but find precious little of it practiced. Anyway, that’s the way I see it.

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