Life Truth and Tidal Waves of (In) Tolerance

Abortion, immigration, social values and politics are not the focus of this post: intolerance and tolerance are the focus.

This is a blog that’s been posted in my mind for at least a year, but I’ve always backed away.  And even though I decided to write if, finally, I may still dither over publishing it.  You see, it’s bound to hurt, one way or another.

Declaring political leanings can be lethal, as can giving opinions on any of the above listed topics.  That has long been true, but currently folks seem to have lost any idea of what tolerance and intolerance are.  The attacks on the left are often vile and inexcusable–but so are the attacks on the right.  Both sides claim the high road, both demand civility–and yet the language, hostility and hatred expressed are destroying common human decency as we knew it.

The dangers have been hammered home to me both in my community, from political ‘leaders’ I wouldn’t spit on (okay, so I actually still don’t spit, it’s figurative) and FB posts declaring that liking one or another view or candidate will result in scathing contempt, unfriending, and a host of other ‘remedies.’

And so, some life truths before I vomit objections over some of the unacceptable attitudes crippling social niceties necessary for civilized people to at least pretend to get along:

My mother, an otherwise staunch Republican, raised me pro choice.  A woman who scorned feminism, she was in some ways very liberated; maybe the political term today would be that she was libertarian.  In any event, I came to my basically pro-life view through experiences and one inescapable fact:  no matter how violently you scream, shout, claim that all pro-lifers are committing war on women–abortions end human pregnancies that would result in babies.  Abortions kill.

In a tolerant society, no one has to agree with my statements–but no one would unfriend me or lash out at me for expressing that opinion.  I will listen to reasons for abortion, and there are some that I can except as reasonable, such as saving a mother’s life.

Furthermore,  some may find taking a life under some circumstances acceptable.  I can defend the death penalty without worry; abortion is legal, and individuals who choose to defend it have the same right to do so as I do to defend the death penalty.

In an intolerant society, some readers have already stopped reading this post.  Views are right only if they are one’s own views, and the others are nut jobs, bigots, racists, extremists, and worse.

If any issue needs to be discussed by adults, abortion is one.  Would any pro-choicer support the gender-based abortions of China?  The world condemns the slaughter of girls there, and surely women who fight for women’s rights cannot condone the practice.  Is there any greater inequality than refusing to let a female fetus be born only because the parents want a male child?

Yet gender-based abortions happen in the U. S.  Where are intelligent, educated women of the left demanding that not one more girl be aborted on the basis of her gender?  Where are the country’s leaders, demanding that we not be China?  That we respect women not just for their successes and their contributions, but because they are women and have the right to live?

Tolerance would not convince a pro-lifer to accept abortion, nor will it persuade a pro-choicer to condemn the practice.  Convictions can be strong; they are the moral structure that provide civility and order to our worlds, and give us a foundation for a life that makes sense to us.

Intolerance, however, creates murder in abortion clinics and has politicians condoning aborting female babies; it allows hordes to protect Planned Parenthood regardless of the practices employed there, without regard to incidents that are an affront to the very women it claims to protect.

If I’m not labeled a c**nt, stupid, ignorant, or extreme, I will probably be viewed as racist, especially when I share that the one issue that gives me a split personality is illegal immigration.  I understand why people immigrate, but I also understand that in today’s society, simply turning a blind eye to the problem has catastrophic consequences for everyone.

I’m not racist, although I will admit, with embarrassment, that my father tried to raise me to be.  I’m married to someone from Mexico, and I was disowned by my family for many years because I chose to defy my father.  In fact my father tried to kill both my then fiancé and me.  I have been insulted equally by Hispanics, Anglos, and one person who also didn’t like me because, as she explained to me, she thought if I wasn’t Hispanic I must be Jewish.

I know what prejudices and bigotry are.

My husband came across to work.  He worked hard under horrible circumstances, and although he couldn’t save his mother’s life, he undoubtedly kept much of his family alive.  How can I condemn that kind of immigration?

On the other hand, illegal immigrants are breaking laws.  And, increasingly, the immigrants who come across are not the hard workers my husband and his best friend Lolo were.  I know dozens of those who have come across–and say so–for the benefits they can receive here.  It’s no longer where can I find work, it’s how can I qualify for the support others will provide.

So tolerance and calm heads should prevail–but tidal waves of intolerance wash over the issue, poisoning any sane discussion.

There are many who use the financial drain of immigrants, and the criminal element, to disguise what often are bigoted views of minorities, especially Hispanic minorities.  Often, there are verbal clues that make me wary of prejudice.  And I see more of those clues from those of my own political persuasions than I do from the left–but the left are as intolerant in other ways.  Maybe more so, because there are valid reasons to inhibit illegal immigration.  Yet those on the left would forbid the use of “illegal” in conjunction with immigration.  To break a law is to commit an illegal act.  It isn’t a racist word, and it doesn’t dehumanize anyone–as long as tolerance is afforded to those debating the immigration issue.

Even such simple solutions as requiring photo id for voting are attacked, litigated, excoriated as an assault on rights rather than a simple solution to lessen voter fraud; there is no tolerance extended to anyone who believes that our country, like most countries in the world, must have some sensible system for allowing people legal access to residence and citizenship.

When the ‘racist’ word comes out as easily as the “I’m not prejudiced, but” disclaimer, no conversation ensues.  At all.

And everyone suffers.

The language used by Rush Limbaugh (someone I don’t often watch, because I find him too close to intolerant for my taste) and by Bill Maher (ditto) are poor examples of tolerance, civility, or any other admirable quality that comes to mind.  Surely intelligent and educated folks can state opinions as strongly using words that don’t degrade.

Whether they can or not, I can choose my own views, keep my convictions, and only raise my voice to my son-in-law, who kindly lets me ‘debate’ politics with him.  I think we’ve had spirited debates, but we still get along.

He’s never unfriended me.  My daughter still speaks to me.  We won’t ever agree.  But it doesn’t matter.  We’re both secure enough in our convictions that we can listen with tolerance.

And respect.

About Leslie P Garcia

A well-intentioned principal posted my first story, Ricky and Tricky's Christmas, when I was six years old, condemning me to a life spent writing. I've lived on the Texas-Mexico border for what is now most of my life, am an educator, mother, and grandmother.
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