More Than Just A Fallen Statue–The Oppression of Tolerance

More Than Just A Fallen Statue–The Oppression of Tolerance June 29, 2020

 

What Iconoclasm Is

It’s more than just a fallen statue–whichever toppled statue you wish to talk about. Iconoclasm–the erasing of images, is a wave that overcomes society every once in a while. And it is never a good thing. Here’s why:

Very Selective

  • Capricious–The mob judges someone an unforgivable sinner, but lets other famous people, worse than they, continue to be honored with images and statues. A great example of this is Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, eugenicist and racist who sought the destruction of the Black race. General Lee falls again in today”s protests, but Margaret lives on as a defender of women’s rights even though she was a truly despicable human being.

Sliding Down the Slippery Slope

  • Slippery Slope–The mob just can’t stop with desecration of one type of unforgivable sinner. It moves on to those it suspects of similar feelings even if they happen to be personages who did great and noble things. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson are examples of noble people whose images get swept up in the maelstrom of destruction. And of course, once one reaches this point, a person can always go further as some do who suggest images of Jesus must be expunged because he is too white and racist.

Causes Moral Paralysis

  • Moral Paralysis–Iconoclasm causes moral paralysis. One of the stranger results of this mayhem is the unwillingness of many leaders to condemn these actions, even when these actions metastasize to include genuinely good people and real heroes. The leaders seem paralyzed and unable to issue a clarion call to stop the violence and declare those actions evil and immoral. And the mob hears silence and intuits consent. The violence ratchets up and more destruction ensues.

Destroys History

  • The Destruction of History–Just as a stroke flattens the face of its victim, so iconoclasm flattens the memory of society. Without the visual representations of times past, people forget where they came from. If it’s wrong to tell the story, there is no need for the memory. If people cannot be remembered because they are imperfect, real virtue means nothing because there is nothing to compare it too.

Iconoclasm Leads To the Oppression Of Tolerance

  • The Oppression of Tolerance–One of the worst effects of iconoclasm is its twisted definition of tolerance. If tolerance only meant the allowable deviation from a standard, that would be fine. There would actually be a standard to measure a dissenting action by. But, instead, it often means the act of allowing something,  simply to be allowing it with no reference as to whether that action is good or bad. The raising of tolerance to a virtue is the big mistake and awful consequence of iconoclasm. This kind of tolerance says protesting is good because it’s good to protest, regardless of what one protests about. Everything becomes relative when tolerance is the ultimate act of goodness.

The way we define tolerance today makes us say: My good is good because I say so; my bad is bad because I declare it so. But if you think my bad is a good, that’s okay because it’s good for you. And if my good is bad for you, I should understand where you are coming from and give in if you are particularly offended by my view. This demands manufactured empathy on the part of those who witness iconoclasm. It requires that we apologize for things we never did or were responsible for. What was more ridiculous than those people who knelt before Black Lives Matter protestors and apologized for their systemic racism as they were then led around in chains and shackles? Because America is a pluralistic society, we make the mistake of thinking tolerance is how we handle pluralism.

 

But what makes our country great is that we are people from many races, many walks of life, of various creeds and other belief systems UNITED by our acceptance of the virtues and rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. E Pluribus Unum–Out Of Many, One. It’s the union of people that makes us great, not the plurality of our opinions. It is our unity that gives the standard by which we act, and there is wiggle room there for different opinions and life-styles. But there is no place for iconoclasm, because it destroys unity.  Break the statues, erase the memory, destroy the history, and nothing is left to rally around. Society disintegrates.

Anarchy Seeking Annihilation

  • Anarchy–Iconoclasm is just anarchy by another name. The fact that all the above consequences happen shows that down deep the purpose of this destruction is the annihilation of society. There is no new world order meant to arise from the ashes of the present. Annihilation only brings the future of constant chaos, a never ending misery for humanity.

The Answer: Law And Order Upholding The Standard Of Unity By Which We Exist As A Society

There is only one answer to Iconoclasm–the reinstitution of law and order. That sounds draconian but if law and order means the upholding of the standard of unity by which our country was founded, then it makes sense. People like law and order instinctively, not because they like to see the bad guys pounded, but because they want to be reassured that the values they thought good people of noble heart believe in are really true and offer the foundation of society. The frightening thing is whether our leaders will have the fortitude to use the strength necessary to reign in the chaos, or whether they will let tolerance tickle their minds and make them cringe away from acting with strength and courage.

 

About Monsignor Eric R. Barr, STL
Monsignor Barr is a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois. In his 35 years of priesthood, he has been pastor, principal, teacher, university professor, Vicar for Clergy and Vicar General. He is a former associate editor of a newspaper and a novelist. He speaks on Celtic Theology and Current Catholic Issues. You can read more about the author here.

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