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Tolerance and the American Left

From Reason TV.  It is funny until one ponders that we live in a time where a broad swathe of Americans are able to be simultaneously unremittingly hostile to people who have the temerity to hold views differing from theirs on political and cultural matters, while also supposedly celebrating tolerance as a key part of their worldview.  George Orwell, a man of the Left, would not have been surprised by this:

In a Society in which there is no law, and in theory no compulsion, the only arbiter of behaviour is public opinion. But public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law. When human beings are governed by “thou shalt not”, the individual can practise a certain amount of eccentricity: when they are supposedly governed by “love” or “reason”, he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else.

Liberal Tolerance

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

14 Comments

  1. The theme of the anti-Koch outbreak was, “Save Our News.”

    Those people’s self-awareness is severely deficient.

    Apparently, they are not so moronic as to be unaware that the truth could stop the push for economic and societal regression.

    Note to the Koch’s: you can’t fix envy and stupidity.

  2. “while also supposedly celebrating tolerance as a key part of their worldview”

    well the “tolerance” here is referring to innate characteristics (generally,) which political opinions aren’t. So it’s not inconsistent, it just comes to down to agreeing or disagreeing on different arguments.

  3. “well the “tolerance” here is referring to innate characteristics”

    Actually that is totally incorrect. Most Leftists preen themselves on being tolerant in general. Think the Coexist bumper stickers for example.

  4. true to an extent. When people talk about “Islamophobia” for instance though they aren’t defending specifics of Islam, they’re talking in terms of prejudice against Arabs/others, real or not.

    I think (hope) most people would agree that tolerance in the most generic sense isn’t something to aspire to.

  5. Not for most Leftists who appear to believe in toleration only in the abstract, unless it applies to people who agree with them or who belong to groups they have bestowed official victim status upon. Thus the Israelis, who by far run the most tolerant state in the Middle East are “intolerant” in the eyes of most Leftists while their PLO adversaries, noted for their ruthlessness against any individuals or groups who oppose them, enjoy victim status on the Left and thus can do no wrong.

  6. that’s just a difference in how people view the conflict. When people think one side is in the right they’re gonna give them more latitude even if they commit horrible acts. That’s human nature.

    no one believes in tolerance in the abstract cuz it’d be incoherent. You’d have to tolerate whatever you define as intolerance which kinda defeats the purpose. Really it’s just a political term — everyone has their view of what their ideal society would be like, what it’d accept and reject, and that word’s a nicer-sounding way of putting things.

  7. The Political left, in whatever form it takes, be it the dimwits who followed Robespierre, the Communists/Marxists, the Republicans of Spain, the socialist parties of Europe, the Nazi Party and our own Organized Crime Party (the Democrats) tolerate no dissent, no disagreement, no argument from their viewpoint.

  8. “When people think one side is in the right they’re gonna give them more latitude even if they commit horrible acts.”

    The Left has a long, long history of tolerating monsters as long as they proclaimed the right slogans, and they do so while calling for tolerance.

    This risible site from The Southern Poverty Law Center underlines this adherence to tolerance as a prime political slogan of the Left:

    http://www.tolerance.org/

  9. “The Left has a long, long history of tolerating monsters as long as they proclaimed the right slogans, and they do so while calling for tolerance”

    but isn’t this true across the political spectrum. People defended Franco, people defended Pinochet, a lot of Cold War politics was “enemy of my enemy” stuff. Which isn’t to say all examples are perfectly analogous. Just that people tend to be more about “understanding the context” when the politics being discussed match up more with their own.

    Bottom line is you’re right that liberals aren’t tolerant of dissenting viewpoints. Claiming hypocrisy is a dead end though because that’s not what they’re referring to.

  10. “People defended Franco, people defended Pinochet, a lot of Cold War politics was “enemy of my enemy” stuff.”

    The analogy fails. For example imagine the horror of any college or university hiring a self-proclaimed fascist, while Marxists are plentiful in these institutions. When is the last time you saw young Conservatives sporting a T-shirt with the image of Franco or Pinochet, while Leftists arrayed in garb with Che Guevara’s image on it have become so common as to be trite.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQcUkd1w_TY

    There is nothing on the Right like this in this country.

    Leftist adoration of murderous totalitarians has been an ever present feature in this country since the creation of the USSR, while at the same time Leftists ceaselessly preach tolerance.

  11. but isn’t this true across the political spectrum. People defended Franco, people defended Pinochet, a lot of Cold War politics was “enemy of my enemy” stuff. Which isn’t to say all examples are perfectly analogous. Just that people tend to be more about “understanding the context” when the politics being discussed match up more with their own.

    I do not know if you noticed this, but in the lapse of time between 1945 and 1990 authoritarian government was the norm in every corner of the world outside the British Isles, Scandinavia, northwesterly continental Europe, North America, and the Antipodes. Just doing business meant you dealt with various and sundry unsavoury characters. These exercises in reasons of state are completely irrelevant to the internal dynamics of a working political society.

    Re: Franco and Pinochet. There were a selection of countries where electoral institutions and such and the political class attending them proved unable to govern or unable to govern more justly than would an authoritarian regime. The catastrophic breakdown of order in the southern cone of South America after 1964 is an example of this, but Spain in the interval between 1930 and 1936 provides another one. Pinochet was regarded respectfully by William Rusher and S.H. Hanke because he was successful Chilean political economy on a sound footing, not because their ‘politics matched up’ with military rule. (The ugliest discrete violations of customary privileges and immunities in this country’s history would be the Trail of Tears and Executive Order 9066; with whose politics do those ‘match up’???)

    Seconding the moderator: the Communist Party in 1947 had 100,000 members and had insinuated itself into gatekeeper positions in at least a dozen trade unions, in the publishing business, and in film studios well. It was also a recruiting ground for espionage. A considerable fraction of the elite collegian population ca. 1968 consisted of reds and watermelons (“Ho, Ho, Ho Chih Minh, the NLF is going to win”) and much of our chatterati went over to the other side during the Cold War. Read Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims for a history or sort through the public utterances of characters like I. F. Stone, David Dellinger, Susan Sontag, and Victor Navasky.

    The closest thing to a starboard analogue to any of this might be the 2d incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan. The 2d Klan was a fad organization that had imploded almost completely within 15 years of its foundation and was never anywhere near the country’s cultural control centers. You could offer the Silver Shirts or the German American Bund; they only existed between 1933 and 1942, had about 40,000 members, and drew largely from marginal immigrant subcultures. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade had 2,800 members; the list volunteers for the Nationalist cause in the United States could be counted on your fingers.

  12. JDP,

    FYI: Were it not for ubiquitous leftist lies, there would be no need to defend them. Franco and Pinochet saved their countries from enslavement, massacre, and sovietization.

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