The transformation of language is the opening shot to the transformation of society.
It is interesting to note that so many of the arguments made in defense of Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia involved free speech. Few seemed to realize that free speech was a guarantee to Americans as a right the government could not tamper with. To extend free speech as a justification to a foreign dictator who does not permit it on his own soil is obscene. To use free speech as an argument for why a private university should provide a forum to him demonstrates a complete ignorance of what free speech is.
The problem as always begins with a distortion of language and meaning.
We are repeatedly told of the importance of tolerance and warned against prejudice and discrimination. Discrimination used to mean being able to tell good from bad. A discriminating man or woman was a person of good judgment. Today the primary meaning of discrimination is a bad trait. A discriminating person lacks tolerance, which today has become defined as a complete lack of judgment.
Tolerance primarily used to mean the ability to bear and endure. Today its primary means is the key social virtue demanded of Americans, to tolerate everything. The tolerant person is a good citizen. Tolerance used to require judging between the things you tolerate and the things you don't. Today tolerance simply means rolling over for anything and never passing judgment on anything as that opens you up to charges of prejudice.
People are expected to "tolerate" everything. It's not a positive virtue so much as an absence of thought and judgment. An absence rather than a presence. You don't have to do anything to be tolerant, you just have to empty your mind of any thoughts except "I have no right to judge." In that state of mind or lack of mind, you can open the door to an Ahmadinejad or to a Michael Vick or a Dr. Kevorkian or a Peter Singer. Because everyone deserves a chance to be heard which a priori suggests that everyone's views and positions are of equal value and worth.
And so we tolerate, in the old meaning of "bearing" and "enduring" as we endure the consequences of our tolerance. We tolerate being constantly told how evil we are by every riff raff that finds its way to our shores and our talk shows. And as they go on to argue that their very hatred of us proves how awful we are, we tolerate that too and even believe it. The world hates us, we are told and we humbly bow our heads. After all if people hate us, they must be right. Thinking otherwise is intolerant.
Clearly we have failed by not being tolerant enough when thousands of Americans were murdered. We failed to follow all the procedures, we didn't get everything right and worst of all we didn't take everyone's feelings into account. We were briefly patriotic, nationalistic and worst of all intolerant. We imprisoned suspected terrorists without giving them their sympathetic stooge from the ACLU. We kept talking about Islamic terrorism when Islam clearly has nothing to do with an ideology that is motivated by the teachings of the Koran. And an ah so tolerant world, the majority of which responds to domestic political dissent with a club and a bullet doesn't like us anymore.
It used to be that prejudice meant prejudgment, which is important because it admitted that the harm of prejudice was in beliefs not grounded in real judgment. Today prejudice is simply a synonym for bigotry.
In Orwellian Newspeak, the tyrannical order of the world of 1984 had altered meaning so that it was no longer possible to think or speak in ways that those in power did not wish. As the liberal academic and cultural influence on words and their meaning continues to transform the national dialogue with the final goal of making it impossible to express ideas opposed to liberal ideology, freedom and national identity is endangered.