From Tolerance to Celebration

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Every day, someone derides “Political Correctness” like they’re making an interesting, bold, or original point, and makes sure to make the point that anyone upset about what they’re saying is just too sensitive and simply trying to censor them.

None of this is new.

Enter Steven Crowder, mumbling something unintelligible for about 4 minutes, bemoaning the fact that “the left” is destroying America by making it socially unacceptable to call someone a “faggot”.

Real charming.

But further to the point of his video, he appears to think that the push for tolerance is actually a bad thing, disregarding the fact that the push for inclusion, diversity, and tolerance, while having some negative side effects, comes from many places.

And one of those places is Best Buy.

E-Learnings

When you work at Best Buy, you have to do something called “E-learnings”, informational videos and quizzes to brief you on new products and company policies, so you can deliver the best customer ser–dang it, I sound like an infomercial. But you get the point.

One of my e-learnings recently was about diversity and inclusion, and it laid out the company’s vision for how those are effectively executed. (Hint: It’s a lot different than the Crowder video.)

The e-learning did the usual diversity thing and went through not teasing your boss because they’re old and out of touch, not bristling when a gay co-worker mentions their boyfriend or girlfriend, and refraining from doing mocking impressions of your Muslim co-worker praying toward Mecca in the break room. (Like, seriously, you take five minutes out of your day to suck a cancer stick. Ease up.)

But it went further than that, and then showed a couple of infographics about people. How many billions of dollars a year did Hispanic people spend in Best Buy? What percentage of gay people shop there? What’s the buying power of black America? Deaf? Jewish? College student? Etc.

The point that the video made was that this push for tolerance isn’t simply PC gone wild, or people being nice for the sake of being nice. It’s that being nice is socially AND fiscally responsible, and that you could lose out on huge market demographics by ignoring the necessity of catering to, well, the people that actually come into your store.

From Tolerance to Celebration

Which is why the training video even went further than that, to explain why diversity and inclusion was so important, and why we shouldn’t just tolerate people, we should celebrate them. It gave some examples of using the differences among employees to unite them. which is kinda awesome.

If you live in a place densely populated with Hispanic people, it might be useful to keep  some employees around who speak Spanish. If many deaf people come to your store, maybe the store learns basic sign language. If a new employee has a walking disability, maybe let them work in mobile, where long activations give long periods of time to sit down.

And besides, nobody likes to be “tolerated.” No one wants to think that you only put the bare minimum into accepting that they exist and are a valid person.

Basically, this push for tolerance should actually be the push for celebration, and it’s the process of looking at someone different and instead of saying, “That won’t work” saying, “We have room for you. Let’s figure out how.” That’s an ideology shared by many of history’s greatest leaders, past and present.

What’s wrong with a world like that, Crowder? It’s the kind of world I want to live in.

One final example of this would be my relationship with my sister. She’s a Christian and a pretty firm one, too. But when I was coming to visit her in San Antonio, Texas, she said, “I know you don’t believe in the good Lord, but you betta’ pray yo plane don’t crash.”

And that’s funny. That’s ok. It made me chuckle. Because that’s what it looks like when people acknowledge and accept each other for their differences instead of either hating them for them, or trying desperately to change them.

The kind of world that I look forward to is the same kind that MLK looked forward to in the I Have a Dream speech. With the hope that one day “we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

That’s a kind of dream worth having.

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6 thoughts on “From Tolerance to Celebration”

  1. Several generations ago, a lot more people than today saw interracial relationships as immoral; they didn’t just see them as unwise or scandalous, they saw them as immoral, unethical. Whenever somebody’s moral code is involved, they would like their morals to be expressed in the laws of the country. If they believe that it’s immoral to use cocaine or watch child pornography or euthanize comatose people, they would feel most comfortable living in a country which had laws which reflected that view of morality and gave them a sense of security that they are living in a society of fellow moral people.

    Yes, it would be ideal to celebrate differences, but sometimes only tolerance is possible. When somebody truly believes that another person is being immoral, how could they bring themselves to celebrate that person’s immorality? They can tolerate those “immoral” actions, especially if those actions only “damage” the person doing it (such as in a homosexual marriage, which many Christians find immoral but which only really affects the people getting married), but they will never celebrate those actions. At best, they might celebrate the freedom our society offers which allows differing views of morality to coexist. And that might have been the point you were trying to make, that people should celebrate the diversity in our society and not necessarily the differences which one disagrees with.

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    1. I mean, I guess…

      But “celebration” in this sense means having such a deep respect for the multiplicity of beliefs and attitudes AND recognizing that these are useful in strengthening your enterprise, and using them as such.

      If you never allowed any Muslim people to work with you, your business would suffer. Muslim people often would like to pray 5 times a day in the direction of Mecca. (Most of the time, it’s kinda what being Muslim means). So the only logical conclusion is that you, in an effort to work with Muslim people, would have to find some accommodation. Otherwise, we’re back at square one.

      Now, there are some obvious ones we could pick out (child rape could be one of them) where they are clearly immoral, and we feel very deeply that they are, and therefore could not simply tolerate it as “diversity.” But I believe the principle of immoral we apply to child rape is the same as the one that we apply to “diversity”, which is that we take others into account. And one of those parties is clearly damaged, whereas with homosexuality….neither party is damaged in any clear way, and indeed nothing around them is damaged either.

      So the answer to your comment, I think, is that we have to cause people to think more critically about what they mean when they say “Immoral.”

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      1. I will now attempt to enter the mind of someone who sees homosexual relationships as immoral and postulate how they could be seen as damaging. If one believes that sex should only be done with the intention of producing children and that sex for the purpose of pleasure is succumbing to fleshly desires, then homosexual sex shows a lack of discipline and is thus damaging to the person’s self-control. Having sex for pleasure can be seen as immoral and as damaging the people doing it because they are getting into the habit of living without discipline and of prioritizing fleshly wants over spiritual needs. Homosexual sex can never be for the purpose of reproduction, so it must be for the purpose of pleasure. On a side note, using the same reasons, having sex with contraceptives would be just as immoral as having homosexual sex.

        You have a different worldview than Christians, so their morality may not seem like it’s been critically thought out, but it has been (perhaps not by the average Christian, but definitely by theologians); they just have a different conception of reality than you. Perhaps you categorize something as immoral if there is perceivable damage being dealt. But a Christian might say, “Is perceivable damage the only type of damage? Isn’t damaging one’s soul just as bad as, or possibly worse than, damaging one’s body or mind? So why shouldn’t actions which damage one’s spirituality likewise be deemed immoral?”

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      2. Related to this, I tend to separate morality into two broad types: private morality and public morality. Something can be privately immoral if it directly damages the person doing it, but not anybody else (thus, drug use and suicide could be potentially deemed immoral, along with eating and sleeping habits). Something is publicly immoral if it directly damages people other than the person doing the action (which includes the blatant examples like murder, rape, and theft, along with reckless driving and lying).

        The only type of morality which should be relevant to lawmaking is public morality. For this reason, I find the fightback the legalization of homosexual marriage as highly inappropriate because it is attempting to make laws based on private morality. Likewise, I believe that the use of drugs (even hard drugs) should be a personal choice and should not be a legal issue. If people want to damage their own bodies, even to the point of committing suicide, this is their business and laws shouldn’t be involved.

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      3. Crowder is an advocate of the “Religious Freedom” legislation, which I find hypocritical, as he started his “career” whining about christians being excluded or attacked. Yet now he promotes someones right to deny services or employment based on religion and sexuality.

        I suppose it’s easy to get behind when you know you are the majority and won’t be affected. But I always assumed that in America, if you open a business, you open it to the public, period. I don’t know what kind of inferiority complex right wing christians suffer from to be so threatened by muslims who aren’t even 1% of the population.

        As for sex, 99.9% of sex is done for pleasure amongst heterosexuals. Gays aren’t having more sex. And sex is also a shared intimate experience. Its not just two people trying to get off all the time. So intimacy is good for your emotional well being, or if you want to refer to it as your “spirit.”

        There is a basis for the stereotype of the “decadent” homosexual sex life, and it comes from closeted people having to explore their sexuality in secrecy. They didn’t have the freedom or the option to engage in healthy relationships. Many gay or bisexual people got married and lived a lie, and if they sought out gay sex, they had to do it as a fling or one night stand. But that wasn’t their intent.

        Morality is subjective. The mistreatment of jews, women, gays, and blacks was considered acceptable or moral. These things have changed because our morality has changed. We find these past practices abhorrent now.

        “If they believe that it’s immoral to use cocaine or watch child pornography or euthanize comatose people, they would feel most comfortable living in a country which had laws which reflected that view of morality and gave them a sense of security that they are living in a society of fellow moral people.”

        This is insignificant. I would hope that we have evolved to expect basic individual liberties and freedoms, without the consent of a governing body. But laws should be created based on rational arguments, not theocratic arguments.

        I don’t know of anyone who argues against cocaine based on morality. But alcohol consumption and tobacco use has claimed far more lives than cocaine. If someone was going to claim cocaine use is immoral, then they best be prepared to also call for prohibition on alcohol and tobacco.

        Watching child pornography isn’t wrong simply because it’s “immoral”..its wrong because it involves a non-consenting person being exploited and abused against their will. You don’t need religion to form this basic concept. Sex with children, btw, is not condemned in the christian bible. Rape is considered less of a “crime” than our secular society considers it now.

        “They are getting into the habit of living without discipline and of prioritizing fleshly wants over spiritual needs.” If this is the basis behind christian opposition to gays, then I would suggest they have enough work cut out for them keeping their own heterosexual followers pants on.

        As for living without discipline, and I would add prioritizing material wants as well as fleshly wants, Christians are in over their heads. Between the obesity rate and your typical American consumerism, they just aren’t in any position to start telling others how to live or behave.

        Your “Devils Advocate” argument is kind of annoying, because you pose it as if the only position of morality is from the religious, and everyone else needs to be tolerated.

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  2. Beautifully written. I agree completely. I grew up just outside of Detroit, and my father was a first generation Italian who was born in 1940. Aside from the shit my grandparents had to put up with, my father dealt with some anti-italianism because of WW2. But my father was always very diplomatic, and loved exploring other cultures.

    I grew up in a household where my father would play everything from greek, to arabic, to french, to mexican, to russian music, and he cooked dishes from several different cultures. We even had a wok.

    And of course there was the music of every decade of african american music. Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine, Paul Robeson, motown..I grew up with it all and continue to listen to it. Meeting different people from different cultures and ethnicities was treated as an adventure by my father.

    He was a committee man in the union, so he had to be diplomatic, or rather he was diplomatic and this served him well in the union, and I think that principle that every worker has a right to a fair wage and treatment was his default position towards everyone.

    Tolerance is an insulting concept. You can tolerate an individuals quirks, or their personality traits you may find annoying. But to refer to an entire group, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc as something you “tolerate” just comes across as a position of superiority. Even Christopher Hitchens said that when he was invited to a religious function, he acts respectfully and participates fully.

    People like Steven Crowder are hypocrites. This guy spent his first few years on YouTube attacking the ACLU, supporting religious intolerance towards muslims and other faiths, demonizing the LGBT community, and diminishing or ridiculing the criticisms and grievances of minorities. When right wingers like Crowder use insulting slurs and make offensive comments, they are criticized not because of the words, but because of the place they are coming from.

    These people can’t figure out why Louis CK or Chris Rock are treated differently. “Its cuz they’re liberals, and we get attacked for being conservatives!” they will exclaim. No..it’s because people understand their intent and the place they are coming from, whereas the rhetoric from the right comes from a place of hate, supremacy, or just plain meanness.

    I’ve seen Crowders factless Detroit videos. They are blatant dog-whistle racism videos, and they are cruel and exploitative, mocking the misery and suffering of the impoverished. They were created so his all white audience could get their jollies off, reveling in the misfortunes of people they have no intent or desire of helping or associating with.

    In Crowders first Detroit video, he allowed the most racist and vile comments to be posted. Not only did he condone it…on one such comment stating that “Filthy muslims and lazy N***ers” ruined Detroit, he even AGREED with it. No…SERIOUSLY. Here is the proof: http://twitpic.com/uktn8

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