The Myth of the Tolerant Left – The Lowdown on Liberty


By now, we’ve all heard the myth promulgated by progressives that they are people of tolerance. With slogans like “Love Trumps Hate” and “He will not divide us”, they’ve held onto this idea to preserve the notion that they are the on the side of morality.

The reality, however, is quite the opposite. The modern-day left can’t stand tolerance; they absolutely abhor it.

Tolerance, by definition, is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. The irony here should be glaring to anyone paying attention in our country these last nine months. Progressives may claim to be as tolerant as they’d like, but with the rise in violent protests around the country, and groups like Antifa becoming prominent on college campuses, it begs the question whether or not progressives even believe they stand for tolerance anymore.

To reiterate this point, just look at the treatment UC Berkeley had to take for conservative speaker Ben Shapiro. Weeks before his arrival, Shapiro was labeled a ”Nazi” and member of the alt-right by progressives. Which, to any rational human being, is easily recognized as an outright ludicrous accusation. This is a man who stuck by his principles and voluntarily resigned from Breitbart when he felt it take an alt-right turn under Steve Bannon. The Anti-Defamation League even labeled him the largest recipient of alt-right hate on the internet in 2016.

I respect the left’s right to be stupid as well as the right’s, but don’t allow yourself to be fooled for a second into thinking that the left feels anything but contempt towards the idea of tolerating anyone who won’t submit to their narratives absolutely. Someone who vehemently condemns violence as a political means, but simply criticizes progressive ideas, needed $600,000 in security precautions to avoid the “tolerant left” from causing chaos similar to when alt-right provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos attempted to give a speech at Berkley earlier this year.

If you still feel as though you need to drive the point home further, try to debate any progressive on healthcare and you’ll see what I mean. Most libertarians are okay with single payer, in the sense that those who want to voluntarily group together and opt-in may have that for themselves. While this falls under the proper definition of tolerance, when you tell a progressive that you simply wish to opt-out non-violently and leave them be, you’ll immediately be exposed to their disdain toward tolerance as they berate you simply for holding a view they deem to be either immoral or outright wrong.

The good news for those reading this who are of the left’s persuasion, is that rectifying such intolerance toward tolerance is simple, and effective in spreading your own views. People tend to hear you out more when you don’t shout others down before they’ve been given the opportunity to conversate. And by allowing others to opt-out of your ideas, reciprocation regarding your own ability to opt-out of things you find unappealing in favor of your own ideals will likely occur too.

So, let’s avoid unnecessary future political violence by focusing less on force-feeding our own impressions onto others – including the idea of one’s own tolerance – and let’s allow our ideas to rise and fall on their own merit, while extending others that same courtesy.

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Thomas J. Eckert

Thomas J. Eckert is the Managing Editor of Think Liberty and Copy Editor for Being Libertarian. With a passion for politics, he studies economics and history and writes in his spare time on political and economic current events. He is a self-described voluntarist.


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