Mike Metzger in his Clapham Commentary (free subscription required) pens a fine short essay on the last virtue left in America - the virtue of openness or tolerance.
Metzger borrows from Allan Bloom's classic 1987 book, The Closing of the American Mind, to make the point that openness as ity is practised in today's culture is really not a virtue at all but a vice. He writes:
Bloom was pointing out "there are two kinds of openness, the openness of indifference... and the openness that invites us to the quest for knowledge." The first type of openness is what Bloom claimed prevails to this day in American education. "It is open to all kinds of men, all kinds of life-styles, all ideologies. There is no enemy other than the man who is not open to everything."
Metzger goes on to say that:
...religion is relegated to the territory of taste - like a preference for a particular kind of pizza. Religion then becomes a mindless exercise "about other nations or cultures and a few social science formulas. None of this means much" to students. If one person prefers veggie pizza and another pepperoni, why fight over it? Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hezbollah... what's the big deal? We're clueless because we equate piety with pizza - beliefs and preferences not worth dying over.
In other words, religious beliefs aren't exactly true, or if they are we could never know such a thing, they're simply preferences with which people feel comfortable. Just as people exercise brand loyalty in their shopping or in their political party affiliation, they exercise a loyalty to religions which resonate with their view of the world.
Metzger adds that,
...according to Bloom, ..."what is advertised as a great openness is a great closing." Our mental gears have been stripped so that we can no longer distinguish between evil, good, better, and best. We're left with a vague "awareness that there are many cultures, accompanied by a saccharine moral drawn from that awareness: We should all get along." We see this in the continuing hesitancy among students to condemn the atrocities of Hitler, Mao, Stalin, or Saddam Hussein because that would appear "judgmental." .... If we believed religion was in the realm of knowledge, we'd have no hesitancy attempting to delineate between good and evil. Bloom chides us: "Openness used to be the virtue that permitted us to seek the good by using reason. It now means accepting everything and denying reason's power."
He might have added that one way in which this openness is manifesting itself in today's news is the moral equivalency that people tend to draw between contending forces in the global struggle against terror. Israel, for example, is said by some to be just as bad as its enemies. Israel has killed civilians and caused terrible hardships for the Palestinian people, thus, even though suicide bombings are wrong, they're understandable. This sort of equivalence acts as a salve to the intellect as it enables the individual to feel righteous without having to do any difficult thinking or read any history. To place on the same moral plane people who in acts of self-defense build walls to keep killers out, and in trying to eliminate the killers accidentally harm bystanders, with those who deliberately premeditate the murder of school children on a bus by strapping bombs to other children who are sometimes unaware of the full consequences of what they're doing, is intellectually and morally otiose.
We need to recover the conviction that there is good, there is evil, and there are mixtures of the two. Those who deliberately slaughter innocents in order to achieve power, or to spread their version of religious truth throughout the world are doing evil. Those who seek to make life better for all people are doing good. We need to recover a knowledge of the difference, but we'll never recover that knowledge until we recover a belief in truth and get rid of the oppressive burden of an "openness" that manifests itself as an indifference to truth.