The Death of Progress: from Disease Outbreaks to Critical Thought

How bad ideas are causing death and suffering in the name of tolerance

David and Collet Stephan: son Ezekiel died from parent's beliefs
David and Collet Stephan: son Ezekiel died from parent’s beliefs

Several recent news articles highlight just how deadly ignorance can be:

In all of these cases, routine and timely medical intervention would prevent tremendous suffering.

It is no coincidence that bad diseases (such as meningitis and measles) and bad ideas (such as Islamism and moral relativism) are currently undermining decades of medical and social progress.

The Internet, social media, 24-hour news, YouTube, the diminishment of print journalism, have all contributed to an overcrowded idea space where conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, quackery, and other bad ideas can garner an audience. At the same time, many of those same technologies have been a boon to positive social change.

We have seen forward momentum on gender equality, racism, LGBT rights, and other initiatives that began with the baby boomers in the era of the civil rights and woman’s movements of the 60s and 70s.
The boomers successfully challenged the establishment to unseat bad ideas about race, gender, tolerance, and more. They were so successful that those egalitarian liberal ideas are now the establishment.

However, there is a dark side to this social transformation and it closely mirrors recent outbreaks of curable childhood diseases. I believe that we have lost our immunity to certain bad ideas in a way that is analogous to the resurgence of measles and other easily curable debilitating diseases.

Ideas are similar to viruses in that they can be passed on, they can mutate to become more benign, or they can mutate to become more virulent. The term “meme” was first used by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to describe the phenomena of the transmission of ideas in the way that genes transmit heredity in organisms.

Just as the resurgence of measles has been fueled by complacency, pseudoscience, and bad ideas about things like autism, the resurgence of bad political, religious, and cultural ideas has been fueled by a liberal minded tolerance that will accept even the most extreme intolerance in the name of multiculturalism or simply out of fear of being thought of as intolerant. It is as if they cannot even comprehend intolerance when it is staring them in the face. At the same time, when they do recognize bad ideas, they will refuse to challenge them using logical argumentation. Instead, bad ideas are temporarily made dormant by shouting down the messenger of that idea rather than refuting the bad idea itself. Consequently, these bad ideas lay dormant for a while and continue to infect others.

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself to be a liberal minded beneficiary of the post-civil rights era. I’m fully committed to women’s rights, racial equality, gay marriage, universal healthcare, climate change science, access to education, and 99% of the liberal cannon. Consequently, it is with considerable trepidation that I feel compelled to call out my fellow liberals on this.

Progress Regress
Free speech De-platforming, disrupting, and shouting down those you disagree with
Gay rights, marriage equality Extreme outrage at Christian proponents of “traditional marriage” while ignoring Islamists who are killing gays
Women’s movement, gender equality 3rd wave/post modern femenism, identity politics
Secularism Accomodation of misogynistic religious/cultural practices
Multiculturalism and inclusiveness Acceptance of cultural/religious groups that are extremely non-inclusive and intolerant
Safe spaces for the truly marginalized Turning the entire university campus into a “safe space”

Tolerating Intolerance

In the realm of politics, bad conservative ideas are the mainstay of many comedians. Yet liberal candidates disappoint me the most when they allow political correctness to render them senseless.

Consider the fact that a group of MPs, including my own Liberal MP that I voted for, attended a memorial service for S.P. Thamilselvan, a key leader (a terrorist) of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), an organization that is and was at the time a designated terrorist organization. Long before ISIS, the Tigers were leaders in taking terrorism to new levels of barbarity. They invented the suicide bomb belt and pioneered the use of women in suicide attacks. After the 2004 tsunami, the Tigers exploited the situation by recruiting child soldiers for their terrorist insurgency. Here in Canada, local LTTE thugs were known to extort funds from their own immigrant community in order to fund the war back home. This is what some liberal/Liberal people will tolerate!

Liberal MPs Celebrate Terrorist Tamil Tiger Leader
Liberal MPs Celebrate Terrorist Tamil Tiger Leader

I’ve spoken to Canadians who believe that we ought to be culturally sensitive and “respect” parents’ choice to mutilate the genitalia of their girls (FGM). To do otherwise would be “intolerant”.

In the name of tolerance, taxpayer-funded Niagara College violates its own discrimination policy by prohibiting women to participate in its campus in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, university campuses around the country tolerate Muslim Students Association’s that practice gender segregation, promote publications that are anti-Semitic, promote wife beating, the death penalty for apostasy, and contain many other highly intolerant mandates.

In the Orwellian vocabulary of political correctness, tolerance-of-intolerance is called “accommodation”. Unfortunately, the accommodation is mostly one-sided and is rarely reciprocated.

Intolerance of Tolerance

Equally disheartening, is the tendency among far too many immune compromised liberals of being intolerant of other liberals who apply tolerance appropriately.

Consider the case of York University dean Martin Singer who demanded that professor Paul Grayson agree to an accommodation, on religious grounds, that would allow a male student to be exempted from interacting with women on a class project. Fortunately, professor Grayson stood his ground, stood up for liberal values, and seemed to enjoy popular support for this. Nonetheless, there was no shortage of apologists for intolerance such as Prof. David Seljak.

What seems to elude professor Seljak and other intellectuals, who ought to know better, is that there is a fundamental difference between religious rights and gender rights. That is, that people don’t have a choice about what genitalia they are born with while they do have a choice about how they act towards those of the opposing gender. Professor Grayson is the tolerant one here dude! And yet the immune system of some liberals is so compromised that any bad idea, as long as it doesn’t come from a Western tradition, must be accommodated even if it undermines the foundational bedrock of tolerance such as woman’s rights.

There is an Orwellian vocabulary around the intolerance of tolerance. One of those words is “islamophobia”. It is used effectively by demagogues to silence not only right wing conservatives but also those on the left. The word itself would imply an irrational fear of Islam or Muslims, and if this is the way it was being used then fair enough. However, it is regularly applied to people like Ayan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman whose life story is a remarkable journey from one of the poorest countries in the world to become a prominent author and woman’s rights activist in the United States.

Ayaan Hirsi AliAyan Hirsi Ali is a thoughtful, well-educated proponent of critical thinking who, as a woman, has endured incredible suffering as a result of the barbaric religious and cultural moral codes of her homeland. Unfortunately, her frankness and honesty about Islamism causes many liberals, who have never studied the subject, to feel uncomfortable.
The islamophobia brownshirts easily exploit liberal guilt about colonialism, bad foreign policy, and the various other past or present sins of the West (real or imagined). Therefore, if a terrorist linked organization like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the magic word “islamophobia”, even university presidents like Frederick Lawrence at Brandeis University, will click their heels, stand at attention, and obediently abandon his otherwise liberal principles. The islamophobia police such as CAIR convinced Mr. Lawrence to withdraw the honorary degree that was to be presented to Ms. Hirsi Ali based on the assertion that she is a racist “islamophobe”.

Regressive Liberal: Frederick Lawrence of Brandeis
Regressive Liberal: Frederick Lawrence of Brandeis

No Mr. Lawrence: you are the islamophobe for your irrational fear of being labeled racist! CAIR is the intolerant one. They are ready to brand anyone who is critical of Islam as a racist islamophobe. You are a coward for allowing yourself to be used and manipulated by these Islamist propagandists!

Unfortunately, University campuses like Brandeis and York have become the ideological fountainhead of regressive ideology. The demagogues leading the charge are found in the humanities departments of most universities today where a postmodern orthodoxy is preached:

  • The West is responsible for all of the world’s problems through colonialism, patriarchy, racism, etc.
  • Moral relativism: where the slightest transgression by those deemed to be “privileged” (white males) is intolerable while much more significant abuse by nonprivileged/multicultural groups or individuals is overlooked
  • Cultural relativism: where individuals of non-Western cultures are held to a lower standard of behavior (for example: female genital mutilation/FGM)
  • Concepts like gender and sex are merely social constructs with no basis in biology, evolution, etc.
  • Ideas that deviate from the narrow postmodern academic orthodoxy are considered “hate speech” and are shouted down rather than debated
  • Entire University campuses are being turned into “safe spaces” where freedom of speech is dead: it’s about building a home rather than an intellectual space, and “feeling safe” is more important than truth.

Here are a few shameful examples of on campus insanity.

“Shrieking Girl” at Yale University:

UMass “Triggering”:

Verbal Abuse, Shouting-down

While the Brandeis University example is outrageous, the ongoing revelations in Rotherham UK are truly evil. Over the last decade more than 1400 young girls were systematically abused by gangs of so-called “Asian” men (“Asian” is UK doublespeak for Muslim/Pakistani).

This horrific and sustained abuse was only possible because of the desire by police, social workers, and other civil servants to avoid the charge of racism/islamophobia, what UK Home Secretary Theresa May has called “institutionalized political correctness”. As a result, whistleblowers like Jayne Senior and Adele Gladman, a former home office researcher, had her report highlighting the abuse of children in Rotherham suppressed, was threatened by police, and sent for “Diversity Training” for her efforts.

Somewhere on the path to social justice, the liberal cause (my cause), has been hijacked by fear: the fear of being labeled a racist, the fear of being considered intolerant. The fear is so paralyzing for many liberals that they will abandon the very core ideals of tolerance, then demonize truly liberal tolerant people.

It’s time for enlightenment minded people to reassert the true meaning of tolerance! It is time to abandon the irrational moral relativism that allows otherwise decent freethinkers to overlook intolerance. Advances in the health sciences, neuroscience, and other aspects of well-being point the way. There is no hesitation to declare certain political systems as fatally flawed and wrongheaded. Religion and culture should be no less scrutinized.

It is simply wrong and immoral to mutilate girls, or protect women’s “honour” by confining them to the home. We know, scientifically, that these practices harm women and cause suffering. Beliefs based on the authority of intolerant ancient texts, deserve to be ridiculed. Respect the believer as a human being, but show absolutely no respect for the belief. This is a subtle but important distinction.

Our collective immune system is under attack like no other time in recent history. ISIS, the Ebola of bad ideas, has infected thousands of Westerners who have abandoned tolerance and declared war on us like some cruel autoimmune disease. Denial seems to be our main response. It is obvious to anyone who acknowledges the facts, that ISIS is deeply connected to Islam and Islamism. Yet the mainstream of both liberal and conservative pundits steadfastly avoids making that connection preferring instead to blame violent incidents like the Ottawa parliamentary attack on mental illness or anything to avoid the actual reasons as stated by the perpetrators themselves.

The weekly departures of Syrian bound young Canadian men and women continue to evoke the same dumbfounded media response: could it be a lack of economic opportunity? The Internet made them do it. Perhaps racism/islamophobia drove them to it (after all, islamophobia is the real problem, isn’t it?). Meanwhile, the reasons that the defectors themselves give for their treason is incomprehensible to much of the media.

The West brought the Enlightenment and has been on the forefront of important social and economic progress. Yes, there are many aspects to be ashamed of. However, Canada and other Western countries are the safest, most prosperous, and most coveted ports of immigration. What makes it so, I believe, is genuine tolerance that needs and must be intolerant of intolerance if we are to continue to be the beacon of progress.

We need to inoculate ourselves against bad ideas even if doing so would offend our multicultural dogma. Traditional media isn’t asking the tough questions anymore. However, we must call out the apologists and decisively destroy their intolerant ideas through thoughtful debate. We must remain committed to the decades of social justice that we have fought for by standing up for those principles and repudiating regressive intolerant academic, religious, and social beliefs.

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