The speaker at the conference was giving a brief commentary on diversity, and he suggested that there are two 'A's - Awareness and Acceptance - which are involved in a healthy, diverse community. When different groups become aware of differences, and then accept the Other notwithstanding those differences, this diversity is achieved, and the community avoids that unnecessary and grim tragedy of violence, hatred, and prejudice. He finished up by noting how the very conference room of us was full of Irish, Italian, Polish, African American, and Latin people... and who cares what anybody is? It's not as important as what we have in common. All this to the nodding of many heads in the room.
Now it goes without saying that all human beings have equal dignity (at least when we've accepted certain dogmas!), but my concern here is not with diversity. Rather, I think it very important and fascinating to note that the speaker's statement was accepted as a description of objective perspective, stripped clean of prejudice and bias, when in fact he had put forth a very strong position built on very particular beliefs.
He demanded to know why people could not put their personal prejudices aside and just accept everyone regardless of race, age, ethnicity, religion, etc. But this of course would mean accepting (either by internalizing or externally conforming to) his view of what is simply right and wrong. What he was really demanding is why everyone shouldn't act and think the way he does. I think this would be made most manifest if we took him to a culture whose beliefs radically differed from his own, say, the antebellum South, to a group of slave-owners. I suspect he wouldn't dream of simply respecting their culture as different, becoming aware of their different beliefs and accepting them.
Which brings us once again to the question of discerning the real, objective moral standard by which different beliefs and attitudes can be judged. More on that another time. For now let it merely be said that what is needed is not no judgment, but right judgment.