Just this last year, members of the Commission on Diversity and Tolerance thoroughly embarrassed themselves when they began to exhibit the now familiar characteristics of a witch hunt. Just like during the famous witch hysteria when the Governor of Massachusetts finally shut it down; local government and school officials put a halt to it.
But now apparently, the Commission isn’t finished. With a parting shot, they said, “We have more work to do.” We all took that as finally putting an end to such hysteria but apparently we were all mistaken; they were just getting started.
This last Monday, amongst all the flurry of garage negotiations; Councilor Vogel submitted an ordinance which was summarily sent to the Committee of Neighborhood Services. At first glance, it sounded like standard employment statements you would find in any business or human resources department in government:
Section 2-125a Policy of the City of Newburyport
It is the policy of the City of Newburyport to uphold the human rights of all persons in Newburyport and the free exercise and enjoyment of any rights and privileges secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This policy shall ensure equal opportunity to each person regardless of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital, family or military status, source of income or disability where unlawful discrimination exists in housing, employment, education, public accommodation, city services, insurance, banking, credit and health care.
Aside from my desire to include political affiliation in this long list in light of this last election; you may notice that I have highlighted this little insert. Take it out and we have a reassurance that everyone will enjoy the continued kind of tolerance we have enjoyed in Newburyport for years. Keep it in and now it becomes a witch hunt looking for devils where there are none, aggressively seeking offenders to attack.
You see, I lived for years in such places as New Jersey and New York – at any given restaurant or event, you could hear as much as seven different languages around you and in many cases, dozens of different ethnic groups not mentioning lots of different races.
Everyone was comfortable, everyone was at ease and society moved along just fine.
Yet, in that same room were people of different religions and different cultures. Politically, they radically differed with each other. What they thought was right and wrong differed with each other.
But the rule was to respect each other as human beings.
Is respecting each other while disagreeing sufficient?
What I am afraid of is the abandonment of learning respect in deference to the madness of Political Correctness*. In the code name of Diversity and Tolerance; there will be a demand for conformity and intolerance.
I know the self-sanctified that think this way – in smugness, they will think, how can we punish people who don’t conform to our idea of social norms? How can we silence those with diverse opinions? How do we cast out those who are different?
Instead of teaching respect in society, in which we in our free society can say strongly, “I strongly disagree with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death, you’re right to say it.” they will demand that everyone agrees – and without thought and without reason. ‘They’ whoever they are having decided to be the final authority.
You should take the time to read the wonderful (and ironic) editorial that Rabbi Poupko posted in the Daily News, February 14th (Just a few months before the Commission went out of control led by his chairmanship). He proudly states what Jews believe, without apology and without threat. He knows what other people (Christians) may believe and is glad to share his Jewish perspective without fear and with respect to other religions. In turn, all religions whether Christians, and Hindu’s and Muslim’s (and yes, even Atheists) should lay out what they believe, into that global place called the Marketplace of Ideas. And it goes for anything that people believe.
If you feel that you must silence and beat down others who disagree with you then you have a problem. One of real intolerance and real insecurity in what you believe! This is the true reality of Hate.
In America, we have liberty and with that liberty comes the awesome responsibility of respect and restraint. We are a great melting pot of not just people but of ideas and every time the pot grows with that diversity; we become stronger. Therefore, we should celebrate the fact that we can speak and express ourselves without fear of imprisonment and violence.
If we allow the Commission and those who support witch hunting against opinions and viewpoints and groups that do not agree with their ‘set of standards’, just keep in mind:
Witches may be first on the hit list, but you could be next!
* For trivial purposes at your next party, if anyone wants to know how the PC movement began; it started in Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Started by wacky professors firmly rooted in Communism, living in the midst of diversity! Go figure!
PS. Don’t be too hard on Councilor Vogel – I don’t think he fully knew what the Commission had inserted into the ordinance.