January 1, 2017


Why the Left hates tolerance (New Criterion, 12/31/16)

But when we read in this open letter from the wsu faculty that "It is not enough to call for 'tolerance' or encourage 'respect' for all opinions," we know that they intend a two-stroke act of semantic sabotage. First, they call into question the cogency or authenticity of the concepts of tolerance and respect as traditionally understood. Second, they substitute a supposedly higher understanding of those virtues whose true effect is not to perfect but to undermine those virtues. So: "We must create a campus that asserts that we are anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-xenophobia, anti-homophobic, anti-Islamophobic, anti-ableism, and anti-bigotry. We must work to create mechanisms and structures that combat hate, which empower all constituencies to be active in our collective efforts to rid the campus of bigotry and systemic inequality."

This procedure is reminiscent of Herbert Marcuse's attack on tolerance as commonly understood as a "false," "bad," or (famous phrase) "repressive tolerance." Against this evil he advocated what he called "liberating tolerance." What is liberating tolerance? Simple: "intolerance against movement from the Right, and toleration of movements from the Left."

The classical liberal (who is also the contemporary conservative) championed tolerance because it helped maintain a space for civilized disagreement. Many readers will recall hearing sentences like this: "I disagree with you but support your right to voice your opinion." How quaint that now sounds! The modern social justice warrior abominates disagreement as a form of heresy. Accordingly, he rejects tolerance in favor of enforced, indeed totalitarian, conformity. It is the antithesis of what a liberal-arts education was all about, which is why its installation at the center of our erstwhile liberal-arts institutions makes for such a sad irony.

Why not just have separate schools for those who believe in the open exchange of ideas and those who don't?
Posted by at January 1, 2017 7:41 AM