A Miscellany of Thoughts: Intolerance, Individualism, Frozen History

A Miscellany of Thoughts

Intolerance of Intolerant Intolerance

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina posted comments on cancel culture with an emphasis on the left’s claim of tolerance offset by its intolerance of differing opinions.  Most people anywhere left of center, and most who are center right, favor political society rich in diverse opinions, even those with which they strongly disagree.  True, a few can be emotionally intolerant of what unjustly denies some people access to essential rights and privileges supposedly guaranteed to all.  It’s an intolerance that differs in kind from historic patterns of intolerant discrimination that denied full benefits of citizenship to non-whites and other minorities.  From the left has come demands for more justice, rights and freedom for more people.  From the right has come the ingrained practice of discriminatory segregation.  Two fundamentally different kinds of intolerance.  Nevertheless, Scott has a point: demonizing denunciation of those who don’t adhere to one’s approved position on issues, slams the door on conversation.  It continues a never ending zero sum game of feuding winners and losers.

Rugged Western Individualism Rocked in a Government made Cradle.

We lived for many years in the intermountain West where libertarian individualism has long dominated politics.  The many good people of the region are largely unaware of their own history, except for the romance of pioneer settlers and gold mining prospectors.  The Indian wars, Asian exclusion acts, sundown laws, redlining, and federal aid programs denied to people of color, are matters unknown.  Fiercely independent, wary of government, and anti tax to the core, they believe themselves to be self made.  Homesteading; locks, dams and hydroelectric power; rural electrification; highways and airports; subsidized air service; land grant colleges; farm subsidies; agriculture extension services; national forest management – taken for granted, justified by years of hard work giving them a presumed right to it.  Life would be even better but for government infringing on their rights and squandering their tax money on welfare for the undeserving.  

History Frozen in Time

A rapidly changing society with threatening demographic and cultural shifts stimulates nostalgia for the good old days.  Magazines and newspapers feature photos of times gone by when rural downtowns were thriving and everyone was happy.  They picture moments in time existing only in the moments the photos were taken – moments riding on waves of change, washed into the past by other waves of change.  We now live in Historic Colonial Williamsburg that makes its living by preserving a moment in time when it was the colonial capital of Virginia and life was peaceful.  It was only a moment in an ever-changing society born of conquest, slavery, war, and westward movement that would soon leave Williamsburg behind.  Decades later, the battles of the Civil War came and went and came again, eventually leaving the town to moulder, buoyed only by its College of William and Mary.  With many late 17th and 18th century buildings still standing, the early 20th century saw the city’s rebirth as a living museum of America’s colonial history.  Today it prospers with William and Mary on one end and Historic Colonial Williamsburg on the other.  It holds in place a single moment in time to educate visitors with an interactive experience of truth and illusion.  It does its best to be totally honest in all it presents, but for visitors, a day touring can be like a day in Brigadoon.

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