America’s left constantly uses rhetoric to portray themselves as more tolerant than their Republican counterparts. Their actions, however, suggest otherwise.
The word “tolerance” is abused in today’s political environment and used by liberals to promote their Democratic Party – but does the party actually stick to that value? If shutting down conservative speakers, blocking Republican friends on Facebook, and setting up unnecessary safe spaces counts as tolerance, then yes, Democrats are the most tolerant people in America.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “tolerant” can be defined as “showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” So when someone is more tolerant, they allow an opposing view to exist and might even listen to become more educated and well-rounded. Shutting down college speakers, therefore, is the exact opposite of tolerance. During a speech at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, 12 students who took to the stage interrupted Republican speaker Milo Yiannopoulos. Grabbing the microphone, blowing whistles, and making the environment hostile, the liberal students forced the lecture to be cancelled. This is but one example. Another incident occurred when police escorted Ben Shapiro, a popular speaker on college campuses, while protesters blocked the entranceways to his lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles. Having faced criticism in the past, Ben Shapiro, a conservative favourite, is a prime target for liberals who do not like his views on social issues such as abortion.
Blocking conservative speakers is not new. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) continuously updates a list of attempted disinvitations on college campuses. Unfortunately, in the past six years, 44 per cent of disinvitation attempts have succeeded. While it is true that both Democratic and Republican speakers are affected, FIRE has noticed a 15-year tendency: “Speakers are much more likely to be targeted for disinvitation for holding or expressing viewpoints perceived as conservative by faculty or students.” The unfortunate truth is that being intolerant has become a trend on college campuses.
The disruptions have become so common that President Barack Obama himself has spoken against them saying, “Don’t do that, no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths.” It will take more than the president, apparently, to stop intolerance from the left.
“Listen, engage; if the other side has a point, learn from them. If they’re wrong, rebut them, teach them, beat them on the battlefield of ideas.”
– President Barack Obama
Social media is not exempt from intolerance either. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 44 per cent of people who identify as “consistently liberal” have hidden, blocked, stopped following, or unfriended someone on social media due to differing political views. On the other hand, only 31 per cent of those who identified as “consistently conservative” did the same. Friendships can be hurt as well; 24 per cent of liberals ended friendships completely according to the same study. The statistics don’t end there. According to an extensive research by StatSocial, those on the right are more likely to seek out (and follow) liberal media figures. The CEO of StatSocial, Michael Hussey, stated, “People on the left are more insular. They’re less interested in others’ opinions.”
What is fuelling some of the liberal intolerance seen on college campuses and on social media? Two words: safe spaces. A recent exchange occurred at Yale University between a group of students and a professor: one of the students screamed at the professor declaring that he was not making the campus a safe space for the students.
It is a mistake to believe that college should be a large, unnecessary safe space where students will be coddled. These spaces exist as an area for those who are distressed – even if they are simply “triggered” by opposing views. One of the greatest takeaways from college is a diverse field of thought and ideas. Taking away that crucial aspect merely turns college into a ground for deepening the already-held opinions of students.
Liberals need to be challenged but they are not open to that challenge.
The left responds that they are being “intolerant of intolerance”; since the conservative values aren’t tolerant, they have the right to silence their ideas. This is hypocritical and poses a simple question: how can you know that the other side is intolerant if you aren’t willing to listen to them?
The most recent example of the hypocrisy comes from the anti-Trump protests sparked immediately after the business mogul’s victory in the 2016 American election. Many Democrats held signs reading “Love Trumps Hate” prior to the election. Now, several Democrats switched to less PC phrases such as “Kill Trump” and “Rape Melania.” The protests, which continued for several days in a row, are a prime example of the childish left; they show their intolerant colors best after they don’t get what they want. Although more Americans voted for Clinton, nearly half of Americans did not vote this election cycle. Rather than block traffic for their fellow citizens, these protestors should focus their time and effort in encouraging the tens of millions of Americans to vote for their desired candidate.
As the party of “progressivism” continues to espouse their political beliefs of so-called tolerance, we must not forget the countless conservative speakers who have been subjected to constant obstacles just for holding a differing view. Liberals might say they are tolerant, but their insistence of living in a bubble filled with only similar ideas is apparent. So the next time someone on the left calls you intolerant, ask them to hear you out – and don’t be surprised when they act befuddled.