Tolerance Lite

  Last weekend, President Clinton was busy doing two things he loves to do: raising money and talking about tolerance. In California, speaking to a large group of gays and lesbians, Clinton called hatred America's biggest problem. As evidence that America is collapsing under the weight of hatred, Clinton cited the murder of homosexual Matthew Shepard, the wounding of a Jewish girl during a shooting at a California community center, the dragging death of James Byrd, a black man, and the murder of a Filipino mail carrier. Yes, Mr. President, I heartily agree: Hatred IS a plague on our nation. But I'm curious about why, according to press reports, you seem to have left some people out of your litany. You left out, for one, Cassie Bernall, a Colorado girl who died because someone hated Christians. You left out Susan Jones, a Christian seminarian who was shot by someone who entered her church in Ft. Worth, Texas, killing her and six other Christians. You left out those three kids who were shot while praying at their high school in Paducah, Kentucky. Why? The president surely is not unaware of these outrages against Christians. They all received national media coverage, and the link between the shootings and the faith of the victims is well established. The answer is, I'm afraid, that, in elite circles, to paraphrase social critic Anthony Daniels, we see the political equivalent of "most favored nation" policy. Victimizing certain groups earns you the condemnation of our political class. But victimize other, unfavored, groups—like Christians—and that same class will yawn, or, as the president did last weekend, just ignore it. Call it "tolerance lite." When the president talks about hate crimes and forgets about Christian victims, it's not just the double standard that concerns me; it's the dangerous message he sends. When Christians are killed by someone clearly motivated by anti-Christian hatred, and America's top law enforcement officer fails to even mention it in a discussion of hate crimes, is he suggesting that killing Christians isn't as serious as killing, say, gays? With this careless rhetoric, the President feeds the mindset that paints Christians as villains and bigots. Remember, NBC's Katie Couric blamed James Dobson for the murder of homosexual Matthew Shepard because Dobson teaches that homosexual acts are sinful. There was no evidence that Shepard's killers were motivated either by Dobson or anti-gay animus, but no matter. It's the kind of guilt by association that would have made Joe McCarthy blush. And this dangerous rhetoric puts Christians in peril. One can only imagine how many warped minds may be encouraged to violence against Christians by this kind of message. As New York Post columnist Rod Dreher put in the wake of the Wedgwood shootings, "It may never be said on TV, but I know what many people privately believe: 'Well, it's too bad for those [Christians], but you know, they do bring this sort of thing on themselves, boycotting Disney, preaching against homosexuality, [and] crusading against abortion.'" I am all for tolerance. Anti-gay or racial bigotry has no place in our culture. But neither does anti-Christian bigotry. That's a lesson our cultural elites—and our Tolerant Lite president—apparently need to learn.


Chuck Colson



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