Sam — it’s my experience that this declaration is alive and well in America and Western…
Cherie Beck

Hi Cherie — thanks for your response. I certainly appreciate the perspective that an overabundance of tolerance, regardless of the form that may take — political correctness, fear of confrontation, avoidance of underlying issues—can lead to unintended consequences, not the least of which may be intolerant behavior running amok, as we blindly and earnestly tolerate it.

That said, I have to disagree, respectfully, or at least only agree in part. Yes, there are ways in which our “tolerance of intolerance,” as you put it—if I understand what you mean by that correctly—leads to unintended, and negative, consequences. Free speech on campus, or the lack thereof, is one.

At the same time, I think we need to tease apart the distinctions between perhaps-well-intentioned-yet-ultimately-counterproductive efforts at tolerance and behaviors that follow clear demographic fault lines—and are clearly motivated by fear, nativism, and ethnographic recalcitrance.

When you look at Trump, and Brexit, and Le Pen, and Hofer’s Freedom Party—it’s hard to argue that they’re pushing a healthy societal edge, or that they’re entirely disconnected. Yes, their antecedents are, I think, real: income inequality, failure to integrate, inadequate secularization. But I also fear conflating the knee-jerk fear of change, which I think animates many of these behaviors and attitudes—calling for a ban on Muslims; allergic reactions to immigration, writ large; rejection of international cooperation—with the sense that these emergent trends represent a kind of evolutionary edge, rather than what they are: racism, bigotry, demagoguery, atavism.

So, while I appreciate where you’re coming from, and I know you’re talking about more than “political correctness” alone, I’m not it’s entirely defensible to say that tolerance is what’s killing us. Yes, we have to call a spade a spade, to discern fearlessly and unambiguously, but I believe that’s a separate point from what we’re seeing unfold globally right now.

Thanks again, though, for jumping into the fray with me.

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