As lead author of the letter Bill Criddle criticized in his guest column (“What Happened to Tolerance?”) last week, I am compelled to answer his objections, some valid.
America was founded on tolerance. Our Founding Fathers cited John Locke’s 1689 essay, “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” as part of the rationale for the separation of church and state — and for allowing a diversity of religions in the new nation. Over the years, that supple political idea has been extended to embrace the tolerance of and inclusion of diverse ethnicities and races in our national fabric and public life.
But tolerance has its limits. It does not extend to criminal behavior, for example, although we seek to return repentant criminals into society after paying for their crimes.
What was most objectionable about Michelle Loftus’s column was her attempt to excuse, and thereby normalize, criminal behavior that the president-elect had bragged about and was subsequently accused of perpetrating by nearly a dozen women. Grabbing a woman as he did is assault, a felony.
So now we have a man about to enter the Oval Office who admits to abusing women and gloats about it. I, for one, cannot tolerate such behavior. And I doubt that many women in these islands can tolerate it, either.
As a student of human behavior and presumably a good American citizen, Mr. Criddle should know better than to ignore this unacceptable conduct.
Like him, I bemoan the bitter divisiveness that has overcome this once-great nation — especially during the last year and largely due to the Republican candidate, who repeatedly expressed his intolerance for Latinos, Muslims, and other Others.
But I will not keep silent about such conduct — nor let it become the new normal here. And I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Criddle in asking, “Whatever happened to tolerance?”