The Tyranny of the Tolerant – The Driving Force of Modern-Day Abuse

The Tyranny of the Tolerant – The Driving Force of Modern-Day Abuse

THE TYRANNY OF THE TOLERANT / Wall Street Journal Opinion

“They’ll tear you down if you use the wrong word, have a flawed past, fail to salute the fashionable woke flag.”

By Joseph Epstein

Oct. 9, 2020 5:17 pm ET

“The tyranny of tolerance—a fetching phrase but a contradiction, perhaps, even an oxymoron? How can the tolerant be tyrannous, when tolerance, by its very nature, is supposed to be benign and above all understanding and forgiving? Yet in the current day, who is more intolerant, more close-minded and unforgiving, more malicious than those who officially pride themselves on their tolerance for sexual difference, minority mores, protest in all its forms—namely, those who march under the banners of the woke, the politically correct, the progressive?

Herbert Marcuse, of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, published an essay in 1965 with the provocative title “Repressive Tolerance,” in which he argued that “liberating tolerance” would entail “the withdrawal of toleration of groups and assembly from groups and movements” on the right, while encouraging all aggressive movements on the left. His dream, it would seem, has come true.

Use the wrong word, have a political flaw in your past, fail to line up for the next obviously good cause, and the tolerant will be the first to come after you. They may not be able to burn you at the stake, à la the Spanish Inquisition, but they will make sure you don’t get the job, promotion, prize or leg up. They will instead see you castigated, fired, consigned for life among the mean, ignorant and lumpen.

Here are five opinions and views—one could add many more—the tolerant absolutely won’t tolerate:

  • That abortion is, somehow, anti-life and thus might just be wrong.
  • That the final word isn’t in on climate change, let alone what, if it exists, ought to be done about it.
  • That racism isn’t systemic but the absence of fathers in African-American families is, with 70% of black births being out of wedlock.
  • That sexual reassignment surgery and transgendering generally is a ghastly solution to what possibly isn’t truly a problem.
  • That most government programs for the improvement of the human condition are unlikely to be effective and in many cases exacerbate the illnesses they set out to cure.

People who hold these opinions are judged by those who pride themselves on their tolerance as beyond the pale, stupid, harmful if not dangerous, and utterly—thank you, Mrs. Clinton—deplorable. They are condemned as misogynist, racist, without empathy, unimaginative, ipso facto intolerant, hence not to be tolerated. They need to be put down, shamed, cast out; all that they represent needs to be squashed, crushed, canceled.

Whence does the confidence of the newly tolerant derive? Chiefly, I believe, from a strong sense of their own virtue. They are convinced they are on the right side: the side of social justice, of generosity of spirit, of sensitivity, of goodness and large-heartedness generally. They think themselves the cognoscenti, in the know, superior in every way. They are the best people, and they damn well know it.

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