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Volume 8, Issue 1: Non Est

Oppressive Tolerance

Douglas Jones

In many crevices and plains of academia, goose-stepping grad students and intro-course prophets genuinely believe that an argument ends when their student opponent confesses to embracing in his bosom that most heinous of crimes—the belief in truth, the view that dares to murmur that another’s view might be false or immoral. Oh, what wrath and insult awaits such deer-eyed students who unsuspectingly hold to the intolerant barbarism of objective truth. They usually crumple. Crumpled Christians are a common sight—twisted and blown about on most secular campuses. (What are they doing there anyway?) Wouldn’t it be nice, just once or twice, to see some freshman devour such insults and boldly confess to more evils; “I think some people are objectively ugly too,” they might propose.

The source of this hostility to truth and Christianity, in particular, is multiple (e.g., different forms of postmod-ernism), and it deserves to be undermined, even if only in part. One line of attack has come from increasingly overused features of multiculturalism. Like any outlook, multiculturalism has its selected decent insights, sickening extremes, and infighting. A claim common to several prominent expressions of multiculturalism is the view that no one cultural outlook or worldview is true or even superior to any other. One defender of multiculturalism, Jorge Valadez, describes it as the view in which "an adequate understanding of reality is one which emerges as the result of an open, mutually liberated dialogue between the participants of different cultural traditions." [1] He adds that "none of the perspectives would have an initial or a priori privileged status, nor would there be an initial hierarchical differentiation between perspectives or between elements of perspectives." [2] All views are equal.
One argument Valadez offers in support of multi-culturalism is an appeal to morality; multiculturalism fosters justice, and "we should have the moral courage to strive for economic and social justice, for this is the ethically correct thing to do." [3] A second and related argument is an appeal to practicalityadopting a multicultural perspective will enable us to better understand and thus solve the problems of poverty and oppression throughout world.
In particular, Valadez claims multiculturalism could better solve the problems of poverty and oppression since a genuinely multicultural dialogue"free from ideological distortions"would politically require that its participants have "an approximate parity in educational preparation . . . as well as an elimination of economic restrictions that would impose arbitrary limitations" [4] on them. In other words, political institutions should supply participants with the requisite education and resources. Furthermore, a proper multicultural understanding of the information in the dialogue "presupposes an absence of sexist, racist, classist, and other ideological factors that may distort its meaning and interpretation."[5]
Three problems with this approach spring to mind.
First, claims of philosophical neutrality and tolerance always mask deep ideological commitments. Valadez, for example, assumes numerous absolute ethical norms throughout his discussion. How can multiculturalism seriously claim philosophical neutrality and yet declare a priori that sexism, racism, and classism are ideological distortions? How can multiculturalism claim neutrality and declare that a redistribution of wealth is "the ethically correct thing to do"? This is deep-seated ideology and metaphysics, not pristine neutrality.
Second, claims of neutrality are always a hidden stab in the back to opposing claims of truth. As one thinker noted, if I claim that there is a black cat in the closet, and you make the more neutral claim that no one knows whether there is a black cat in the closet, you are calling me a liar. Multiculturalism calls Christ a liar. What more anti-multicultural, ideologically tyrannical statement can you find than "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn. 14:6). Multicultural "tolerance" doesn't merely give Christ an equal place at the table of worldviews, it assumes from the start that His claims cannot be true.
Third, multicultural "tolerance" is politically oppressive. It doesn't just assume some benign values; it assumes egalitarian (equalizing) political values that have led the pack in destroying cultures and enslaving peoples throughout the centuries. Just do a body count. More directly, Valadez recommends a political redistribution of wealth and education, but how is this coercion and use of some groups for the sake of others any less exploitative than the Third World poverty he decries? As King David said, "Redeem me from the oppression of man, that I may keep Your statutes" (Ps. 119:134).
Non-Christian approaches to ethnicity and race will always reflect the non-Christian's hatred of God. God's revelation teaches us that only one cultural line is central to life, that deep spiritual division between Christian faith and anti-Christian faith. Non-Christians always seek to erase this divine division between the two groups because it enables them to deny their responsibility for their sin before God. Multiculturalists try to erase this scriptural line by huddling around claims of tolerance, futilely drawing many lines between cultures, denying any one truth. Fascists and ethnic nationalists seek to draw the line between one superior race and all other inferior races. But God will not be mocked. Multiculturalists and their fascist bed-fellows will each give an account for their rebellion. Those given the moral courage to reject these rebellious facades are welcome to Christ's kingdom, the only truly multicultural society at peace with God, a culture purchased for God "from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9).

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