Friends dis­play their big­oted side

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Two friends have re­cently ex­pressed big­oted views, and I have been left dev­as­tated and con­fused. These peo­ple have been truly great and sup­port­ive friends, and we’ve been through a lot when it comes to rais­ing our kids.

But their newly stated views go against my core val­ues. At the very cen­ter of who I am is a re­jec­tion of the type of di­vi­sive, neg­a­tive stereo­types they clearly be­lieve in. I ex­pressed my views to them, and we had a spir­ited, dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sion. They’re OK with the re­sult, but I’m left feel­ing like a hyp­ocrite: If I agree to dis­agree and con­tinue the same level of friend­ship, I’m be­ing friendly with peo­ple whose opin­ions hurt so many and go against the core of who I am and want to be.

But if I cool the friend­ship, am I be­ing just as in­tol­er­ant, be­cause I’m set­ting aside all the good they do and have done? How do I de­cide whether to stay or walk away?

Dear Carolyn:

Let’s get this out of the way up­front: Tol­er­ance is about ac­cept­ing as valid views that dif­fer from yours. Big­otry is not valid. We do not have the moral lux­ury of prac­tic­ing it, de­fend­ing it, con­don­ing it, nor­mal­iz­ing it or treat­ing it as the aw-gee­bum­mer down­side of a friend who is oth­er­wise! so! great!

That has al­ways been true; some of us merely got busted re­cently for our com­pla­cency in think­ing this was a near univer­sal value, so thank you for bring­ing up your is­sue now. And be­cause I’m see­ing your let­ter to­day as op­posed to, say, a year ago, here is my an­swer: Still torn? Then en­gage. Do not drop these friends.

If any­one drops any­one, let them drop you for be­ing their lov­ing, gra­cious, kind, calm, pa­tient, re­lent­less and ab­so­lutely

Carolyn says:


THE ED­I­BLE GAR­DEN YEAR: DECOR: ‘‘Cof­fee With a De­signer.” “Car­pet Con­ver­sa­tion.” FLAMIN­GOS DIVINE FINDS: fierce re­minder that treat­ing one va­ri­ety of per­son as bet­ter or worse than oth­ers by ac­ci­dent of birth is morally in­de­fen­si­ble.

“That’s a stereo­type, and un­fair.”

“I find that of­fen­sive.” “These are hu­man be­ings you’re talk­ing about.”

“Would you say that to a (de­mo­graphic ad­jec­tive here) per­son’s face?”

“You just put hun­dreds/ thou­sands/mil­lions of peo­ple in one box.”

“We’re all in­di­vid­u­als, not spokes­peo­ple for our color/ gen­der/faith/place of birth/ an­ces­try/politics/ed­u­ca­tion level.”

“Isn’t putting peo­ple down just a way of prais­ing our­selves?”

“How would you feel if some­one said that about you?”

Have your re­sis­tance ready and do not flinch — or flare — when it’s time to use it.

If you find you just don’t like these friends any­more, then, OK, be done. But as long as you’re torn enough to sus­tain some in­ter­est in re­main­ing friends, then let them — again, kindly, gen­tly, lov­ingly — be the ones to choose to stop see­ing you be­cause you won’t con­firm their bi­ases. Let them ac­tively opt out, if that’s their pri­or­ity; let them live with that. Your drop­ping them is their easy way out.

Con­sider not lim­it­ing your ef­forts to these friends. This isn’t to say your com­mit­ment to equal­ity is lack­ing — for all I know you’re an ex­em­plary walker of the walk. If some self-ex­am­i­na­tion re­veals that you aren’t, how­ever, then this cri­sis with your friends can be a use­ful pants kick to­ward broader, deeper ac­tion in ser­vice of what you be­lieve. PICKET FENCE GALS:

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