Tolerance requires more than a week

This week marks the U’s annual Pacific Islander Awareness week–one of many such attempts to dispel harmful and inaccurate stereotypes of various cultures.

Though the ideas behind such events are laudable, the sheer frequency and number of “awareness” activities concerns me. It’s almost as if we’re celebrating our awareness of the need for “awareness” without actually working toward a sustainable solution.

Honestly, who believes that one week will–or even can–change anybody’s mind about anything? It’s more likely that, like anti-drug campaigns, these events elicit eye-rolls and irritation. Multiculturalism has become dogma–and at a certain point, we just stop listening.

After all, somebody, somewhere seems to be caring. Maybe after enough tolerance weeks, a tidal wave of tolerance will wash over the populace, cleansing it of iniquitous and outmoded ideas.

We don’t have to do anything except bask in our own progressiveness. And look how things have changed already.

Our government has disavowed itself of anything un-PC, passing laws that institutionalize equity and have all but silenced hatred. Schools like the U host cultural edification programs to try to remedy an embarrassing societal ill. Political correctness is the norm.

But modern intolerance manifests itself very differently from the hatred of yore. In the past, it was visible, in-your-face and largely tolerated. Now, with the sweep of multiculturism, vocal intolerance is out.

But hate arguably hasn’t lost any momentum; now, it’s just insular and hidden. Like all aficionados, haters have their own clubs, such as Stormfront and The National Alliance, which lament the dissolution of pure, Aryan whiteness.

Prussian Blue–a prepubescent, white supremacist pop duo–sells out its concerts with songs such as “Skinhead Boy” and “Aryan Man Awake,” if you need an example of the vitality of hate. Or listen to Louis Farrakhan. Or Mel Gibson. Or any Islamophobic political pundit.

Maybe the problem with awareness weeks lies in their approach. We’re aware, honestly. Now, let’s give intelligent people the education necessary to make reasonable conclusions.

To debunk stereotypes, we need not shun them a priori. There’s a lot to be learned in scouring their origins. Generalizations do, to butcher an old adage, offer a bit of truth. They don’t just exist to outrage people. So why not take the time to dissect them and bare out their fallaciousness? We should accept that some Jews are miserly, some Hispanics are lazy and some Asians are bad drivers.

It’s true.

Then again, some Hispanics are miserly, some Jews are bad drivers and some Asians are lazy. These distinctions delineate only individual human failings, irrespective of culture. Oh, and we ought to at least try to understand different cultures before we demonize them.

If, after a thorough education, people still want to be intolerant, there’s nothing anyone can do to change them, short of fascist fear tactics. We do want a freethinking populace, don’t we?

One last thing: Wouldn’t it show infinitely more unity to have a single pro-tolerance extravaganza, in which different cultures are showcased amid their fellow cultures? That shows ethnic pride and real tolerance, not to mention fierce individuality.