Harris is brave. If more Atheists were brave enough to leave the safe confines of liberalism then the world would be a much safer place.
Tolerence is one of those words that sounds good in the theory, but in practice is quite vaccous in it’s pratical application to society. It usually means somebody getting away with something they really shouldn’t
Sorry for weighing in late, but I couldn’t let these comments go. You speak of liberalism as if it’s a bad habit we have to get over. What do you mean by liberalism?
I usually speak of liberal democracy as being the underlying principles of most western nations—Canada, US, UK and other EU countries. What would you put in their place?
I also think you’re being too prescriptive as to what tolerance means. If the “rules” of liberal democracy apply to everyone, then no one will “get away” with anything that others don’t.
Accommodating people of diverse racial, cultural and religious background does not necessarily mean allowing them to flout our principles and laws at will. Nor does applying those laws and principles mean we won’t accommodate difference where it makes sense to do so to build social harmony and doesn’t offend such principles.
As for pacifism, I think on an individual level it is harmless, and even admirable and a useful restraint on government at times. As an ongoing policy for government it is obviously retrictive and even suicidal, which is Harris’s point, I should think.
Violence unfortunately is a reality in our society, and armed force is needed to protect what we have from internal and external threats, and often from those more willing to use violence than we are. While every response to violence, real or threatened, must be truly measured and reasonable, and restrained by moral considerations, ultimately every legitimate state must be allowed to defend itself effectively.
If pacifists don’t wish to admit to such a principle, they must accept the consequences, including not benefiting from the society that armed force and violence have helped secure for us. (The example of the Amish comes to mind.)