Culture

In Michael Moore’s World, ‘Tolerance’ Means Ignoring Real Difference

(Kevin Winter/Getty)

In case this election season had not endured enough stupidity, Michael Moore has gotten involved. Last week, the documentarian — a word here stretched to its breaking point — posted on Facebook an open letter to Donald Trump and a picture of himself standing on the steps of Manhattan’s Trump Tower with a sign proclaiming, “We Are All Muslim,” which he is encouraging supporters to use as a hashtag on social media.

This from the writer of a film called “Canadian Bacon.”

 

Whether Moore gives a pulled-pork sandwich about Trump’s proposed “Muslim ban” is anyone’s guess. He’s got a new film out next week — Where to Invade Next — and he needs publicity. But that being said, it was probably only a matter of time before Moore took on Trump. Vadum vadum invocat, or: One obnoxious self-promoter calls to another.

#share#To be fair to The Donald, though: He has not yet reached the nadir of inanity that is “We Are All Muslim.” Nor is he responsible for what is surely one of the most puerile sentences ever to shame the English language: “Just as we are all Mexican, we are all Catholic and Jewish and white and black and every shade in between.” Or, in its moronic Platonic form: “We Are All Everything.”

This is, of course, nonsense. But it’s also instructive. This is exactly what diversity-mongers have in mind when they conjure “tolerance” as the solution to conflicts in a pluralistic society: not a respectful acknowledgment of our differences, but a ruthlessly enforced neglect of them. Exhibit A, from elsewhere in Moore’s epistle: “We are all children of God (or nature or whatever you believe in), part of the human family.” Translation: “Everyone get along! We’re all carbon-based lifeforms!” Someone tell ISIS.

#related#Genuine respect is a far more complicated notion than what titillates the neurons of Michael Moore. Unlike his mush-headed mantras, it actually embraces the individuality of persons, the unique constellation of attributes and opinions that makes them them and not someone else. I am not a woman, an Ethiopian, a cancer survivor, an Olympic mogul skier, a Miss America contestant, or a lover of kale — and it is not helpful, but deceptive, if I claim that I am. Likewise, I am not a Muslim — and it doesn’t help me forge a real, meaningful relationship with Muslims to claim that I believe the shahada (the core statement of faith that is the center of Islam). Contra Moore’s preferred metaphysics, we’re not all the same uniform expiration of the Oversoul. We’re radically distinct persons, and the challenge of an open society is to find durable common ground on which to relate. Being featherless bipeds is not enough.

This is, of course, hard work, and it gives rise to the eccentricities and frictions that make societies difficult to steer — hence liberals’ preference for homogenizing categories, for transforming communities of unique persons into malleable blobs. Moore’s tagline is just liberalism’s totalizing inclination brightly packaged. It’s for this reason that his mindless stunts require a response.

Thankfully, doing so can be enjoyable. After all, Moore’s heft has always been decisively of the non-intellectual variety.

Ian Tuttle is a National Review Institute Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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