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Tolerating intolerance?

I would like to think of myself as a "tolerant" person. Although I don't like the term "tolerant". I feel that phrase suggest a mental task that causes people discomfort. I think many of the differences in culture, religion, and lifestyles is a large part of what makes our world salvageable. There are many beautiful aspects of life out there that would not be present without our differences. I've always taught my kids to learn about the individual, and not to make assumptions based on labels like "Catholic" or "Mormon" or "Wicann". I have many close friends from various backgrounds of life, and I feel my life is richer and fuller because of each differance. Now on to my question. I started hanging out with a coworker a while back. We had similar interest and her daughter is the same age as my son. We got together several times to do some crafting, hiking, and play dates with the kids. We moved away later on , but have kept in touch. She recently added me as a face book friend. I knew that when we were hanging out she was what she called a “white separatist”. Since I no little about this belief system, and I chose to get to know her as an individual there was never really any issues. She never forced her opinions, and really during our time hanging out our personal beliefs never really came up. Now that we are “face book friends” I am starting to see what it is that she believes, and it’s very ugly in my opinion. I’ve never liked the term “tolerate” but that is how I feel about her. I’m tolerating her belief. I miss the friendship we had, but am so disgusted by her belief that I know I can never look at her the same way again. In person she is very accepting of people and kind. Her face book stuff is not. She has posted articles about how blond hair, blue eyed people are smarter, and how she was at the store with her daughter and they saw a “beautiful Aryan woman” packing around a “niglet” and how she explained to her daughter that this woman may think that she is doing something good by adopting that child, but really she is just contributing to the genocide of their race.
I want to teach my children to embrace and enjoy the differences in our world, but how can I embrace this woman when she carries such hate? I’m disgusted by this woman’s words, and I don’t want my child around her or her daughter. And a large part of me feels disappointed in myself for feeling this way.

Can I really teach my children to tolerate intolerance? At some point there has to be a line drawn, right?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 4:59 PM on Apr. 4, 2011 in General Parenting

Answers (9)
  • Personally I draw the line at things like that, but I am not white, so that is probably why.

    Answer by gemgem at 5:05 PM on Apr. 4, 2011

  • my dad says you learn something from every boss you have whether good or bad, I guess in your situation you learn something from every friend. You learn how you don't want to be from her. Maybe as your child grows they will see that people who are intolerant are missing out on the joys and experiences different cultures and beliefs.

    I enjoyed your post.

    Answer by ria7 at 5:05 PM on Apr. 4, 2011

  • Your "tolerance" looks an awful lot like condoning her beliefs. If you really find them so offensive, either speak up, or unfriend her.

    Answer by SWasson at 5:05 PM on Apr. 4, 2011

  • I don't thikn people should "tolerate" anything. If you don't like something say so, don't "tolerate" it but don't let it get ugly either. Just state your opinion, argue it out and let it go. IF she can't be your friend because of what you believe than she's not a real friend.

    Answer by Imogine at 5:10 PM on Apr. 4, 2011

  • Also, I don't think we should teach children about tolerance, we should teach them about compassion.

    Answer by Imogine at 5:10 PM on Apr. 4, 2011

  • Swasson, i think your right. Thank you for putting it so bluntly. I just needed some insight as all. I tend to try not to make decisions when I'm emotional. Her post today about the "niglet" angered me to the point of tears. My BIL is from Niger and my niece is half black. She is beautiful and smart and a super mischievous little 3 yr old. I felt like even though her comment wasn't directed towards me and my family, I took the comment as if she were saying it about my niece. Made me want to drive back to where we once lived and give her a piece of my mind. But I don't think it would do any good. After all, by her standards I'm probably not that intelligent anyway. Makes me wonder why she would hang out with me so often when I don't meet her Aryan standards.

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 5:19 PM on Apr. 4, 2011

  • Yes, you could teach your children about tolerating intolerance as long as it doesn't directly affect them. There are all kinds of intolerant people out there. By tolerating them, you are not condoning what they believe versus what you believe. Be honest and open with your friend. Agree to disagree and "unfriend" her on FB. Simply explain to her that it's very hard not to take what she posts personally and to save your friendship you feel it's the right thing to do. If she is your friend, she will understand and keep her negative opinions away from you. If she gets offensive or defensive, I'd cut all ties with her. If you feel you have to draw the line and end the friendship, then do so in a sensitive way. You have the right to express your opinions to her. You can tolerate and respect her as a human being, but you do not have to condone what she does or says.

    Answer by rosiemendo at 5:51 PM on Apr. 4, 2011

  • hmmm....

    Answer by JoLee12345 at 10:08 AM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • JoLee, can you expand on that thought?

    rosimendo, thank you for your response. I think I'm going to give myself a few days to think about it. I will have to take her off my face book even if we stay friends. I really can't stand to see her posts. I also have to admit that this situation has given me a new perspective. Growing up, I was taught (not directly, but this is the image that I grew up with), that racist people stood out. You could recognize them in a crowed, or that they are usually very angry people.


    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 10:22 AM on Apr. 5, 2011

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