There is a distinct difference in both terms accept and tolerate. Tolerance is in it’s true applied form something of a negativity. Acceptance however, can be applied as a positivity. Recently I’ve been engaging in discussions on the subject of Islamism in the USA. The notion that America is going through a process of Islamisation triggers debates that seem somewhat unsubstantiated and reinforces an ideal of tolerance rather than acceptance. America has been created on liberty, freedom and cultural diversity. Yet today in the few discussions that I’ve read cultural diversity is something that seems to be creating a fear! I call it an imagined fear! Why imagined? The only fear that seems to be winding up a few bloggers from across the pond is Islam. Rather than a fear of guns getting into the wrong peoples hands, or the economy collapsing, or the rise in polarised political opinion, it seems to me many are afraid of Islam. Yet, when I attempt to present an alternative view I have been called a liberal (not that I mind although I’m aware liberal by those calling me that suggests ignorance and lack of knowledge) and told that Europe is commuting cultural suicide!
I’ve set this out to explain that tolerance and acceptance are two very different and polarised ideals.
In Britain there is a popular belief that cultural diversity is what makes Britain so rich in knowledge and culture. Cultural knowledge is gained through various arts exhibitions, performances and films and also with the many restaurants that offer cuisines from all over the world. These occur within the USA too.
As with the USA and a small section of Americans fearing the islamisation of America there are small groups in the Uk who fear the same. Usually these groups follow two sources for information; the likes of people like bernard lewis etc who reinforce all the negativities of islam and the middle east with little cultural knowledge and may I add from a eurocentric position. Then there is another group who call themselves conservatives yet appear to be more like nationalists who believe they are informed by watching fox news or in the uk supporting the BNP or EDL! These groups terms ti reject acceptance and instead to an extent tolerate what they can’t change!
Yet, in the uk we have three main political parties; the conservatives, labour and liberals. Of course there are emerging parties and in Europe there has been a swing to the right, however, my beliefs (perhaps considered by some to be naive) is acceptance. That on the whole europe accepts the every changing cultural landscape on society and doesn’t tolerate it!