The Paradox of Tolerance/Intolerance

The issue of “tolerance” can be complicated, even paradoxical, such as extending tolerance to intolerance with the possibility that the intolerance will ultimately eliminate tolerance, explains Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

In case you haven’t noticed, the United States is a country deeply divided on a large number of basic issues: racial issues, gender issues, issues of sexual preference, the role of government in society, the role of religious views in shaping laws, and so on. Influential Institutions, such as media outlets, are being labeled as “left” or “right” depending on how they report or relate on these issues.

The University of Chicago.

Battles now rage on these topics in the halls of Congress. Finally, the Supreme Court’s legal decisions on cases that reflect these questions have been trending toward the “conservative” end of the spectrum. All of this makes it quite difficult to have a meaningful discussion or debate about such issues in the public realm. Such attempts have often led to further divisiveness instead of reconciliation – reflecting what some might describe as an ongoing culture war.

The one place where thoughtful debates are usually encouraged is on the university and colleges campuses. This is particularly so in the “humanities” and “social sciences” classrooms, where you find courses in history, English, foreign languages, sociology, anthropology, political science and the like. Such areas of study draw on diverse source material and examples. And so, running against the popular grain, so to speak, divisive issues often become legitimate aspects of study.

This process of study and discussion concerning controversial topics has been going on at U.S. campuses at least since the end of World War II. By the 1970s clear preferences as to how these issues should be thought about appeared. And, they consistently agreed with a tolerant stand that maximized the virtues of equality and social justice. It should come as no surprise that faculty in these areas are usually left of center on the political spectrum.

Thus, the campus consensus is that while an individual can privately feel as he or she likes about topics such as homosexuality or racial integration, and can choose their social circle accordingly, it is wrong to publicly act in an overtly discriminatory way. Until recently the courts have agreed with this position, but now things appear to be changing.

Such a trend in the direction of public intolerance has begun to isolate the campus environment while at the same time denigrating the tolerant position as “political correctness” — as if being correct and thus legitimate, appropriate and proper was a failing.

A Republican Attack on the University

This process of isolating one of the staunchest bastions of active public tolerance has recently been highlighted by a new (July 2017) report of the Pew Research Center entitled Sharp Partisan Divisions In Views of National Institutions.

The late Roger Ailes, who pioneered the right-wing structure of Fox News.

According to the report, there has been “a dramatic attitude shift on higher education among Republicans and people who lean Republican.” It would seem that “Republicans have soured on higher education, with more than half [a reported 58 percent of them] now saying that colleges have a negative impact on the United States.”

The more conservative the Republican respondent described him- or herself, the more likely they are to have a negative view of higher educational institutions. This compares with 72 percent of Democrats who saw the contribution of colleges on society as positive. Of course, Democrats now have problems getting elected.

There is a link between those who hold a negative view of institutions of higher learning and those who confine themselves to watching or listening to the country’s right-wing media.

As it turns out, “Virtually every day Fox News, Breitbart and other conservative outlets run critical articles about free speech disputes on college campuses, typically with coverage focused on the perceived liberal orthodoxy and political correctness in higher education.” Now consider that Fox News is the most popular news (or shall we say, alleged news) show on U.S. television.

The success of right-wing news and other media is a good example of viewers practicing, perhaps unconsciously, confirmation bias. The criterion for the information you seek out is not accuracy or truth, but rather its ability to confirm an outlook you already hold.

Of course, one does not have to be right-wing to play this particular game but, ultimately it makes a difference if you are among the intolerant. Intolerant worldviews are closed systems. Once you have committed to them you have put on blinkers and become one of the faithful — no more debates, no more discussions, no more broadmindedness, no more tolerance. People without your blinkers start to appear as dangerous, heretical, unpatriotic. You are now bound to a “group think” that is starkly undemocratic.

Poisonous Sour Grapes

As intolerance under the leadership of Republicans and neo-Republicans (Trump, Bannon, Tea Party types, etc.) becomes more widespread, those institutions that value tolerance come under pressure. This sometimes comes from right-wing media, sometimes from special interest donors and lobbyists, and sometimes, in the case of college and universities, from pockets of students (both right and left) who have decided that some outlooks are so unacceptable that they must be silenced. Whenever reasonable this last action should be avoided.

Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

If you don’t like what campus speakers stand for or say, one’s default position should not be to shut them down, but rather to use their presence as a teaching moment: here is how not to build a healthy society. However, in the midst of a culture war, the tolerant may ultimately find themselves painted into a corner.

We can legitimately ask how far the Republican Right is willing to push their campaign of intolerance against tolerant college campuses. Having lost the open campus debates on an array of divisive issues, they now react with a poisonous version of sour grapes. They declare that “colleges have a negative impact on the United States.”

If they take this charge to Congress or to the courts, we may come to a point where tolerance of extreme intolerance is no longer reasonable. Given that level of threat we should all be aware of Karl Popper’s description of the paradox of tolerance: “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

This is the dilemma that is forced upon us when war — in this case a culture war — takes over the public mind. The space for tolerance shrinks and it is the barbarians among us who start to define the rules of social interaction.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. He blogs at

47 comments for “The Paradox of Tolerance/Intolerance

    July 29, 2017 at 19:03

    That’s about a 30-year old picture of the U of C. Today those trees on the “Midway” are twice as large, and now hide the beautiful facade of the front of the earliest campus buildings.

  2. RAW
    July 21, 2017 at 23:20

    “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

    The solution to this paradox is simple… and it is in development now. The creation of a warrior class. A class of principled protectors, warriors, warriors who are willing to take out the psychopaths in executive positions of power, and their proxies. Removal. No more tolerance… psychopath extermination. Gaian protectors.

  3. Prasoon Kashyap
    July 18, 2017 at 10:48

    Not sure what the author is talking about, i mean he is pretty intolerant about the repubs. What i could understand was unless one agreed with the fundamental axiom of our times,” freedom is absolutely good ” one was some sort of bigot. What made

    • Prasoon Kashyap
      July 18, 2017 at 10:50

      The whole thing incomprehensible was the insistence on one kind of truth or good. Conservatives see another kind of good. Does not make them wrong, may be just a bit antiquated.

  4. July 18, 2017 at 05:31

    Thank you, Mild-ly Facetious, for that section from “Howl”. I sometimes find myself mourning for those days, when so many creative and fertile minds such as Ginsberg were traveling to explore cultures, writing and publishing, participating in robust cafe conversations, seeking the meaning of life and not letting others or authority define it for them. They wanted to go in “deep”, not the all-too-frequent shallowness of our culture of materialism. Mike k’s comment on Teilhard de Chardin’s “noosphere”, exposes the world shaped by others rather than plunging into one’s own soul to question.

    The so-called “left” is just as intolerant as the so-called “right”. I have never seen such polarization and incivility in my life as we encounter now. The times have become incredibly confusing and also very uncertain.

    Yesterday I saw USA Today’s headline at a newsstand, “Can Trump Save His Struggling Presidency?” I’m not a fan of Trump, but what caused the struggle? The Democrazies, whose corrupt candidate lost. Just another example of the “noosphere” attempting to shape societal thinking.

  5. backwardsevolution
    July 18, 2017 at 03:57

    Here’s another one at Evergreen College. All whites were asked to leave the campus for one day, and one professor, Bret Weinstein, refused. The college president was told that he must accede to their demands or there would be violence. This professor is, by his own admission, very progressive, and he even says this does not bode well for the left. The students want him fired (when he did nothing wrong), and I believe (from watching a follow-up video) that this professor is afraid to go back. Amazing story.

  6. backwardsevolution
    July 18, 2017 at 03:48

    Tucker Carlson had a segment tonight entitled “Campus Craziness” re Evergreen College in Washington State. It starts at 27:22. John Davidson, the guest who speaks after the short video of a girl who has been prevented from speaking because she is white, says that:

    “It’s also a consequence of these students being very sheltered. It’s not just college. They’ve gone through high school in most cases without ever really being challenged, so their biases have been confirmed by their teachers from a very young age. College, which is supposed to be a time when you expand your horizons, when you challenge your assumptions, has never really happened for them in that way. They’ve had their biases confirmed and reinforced and, as you say, they’ve been told that change needs to happen really fast, and a specific kind of change. And when they encounter people they disagree with, they kind of lose their minds.”

  7. Cal
    July 18, 2017 at 00:23

    From your Pew Poll

    ””As recently as two years ago, most Republicans and Republican leaners held a positive view of the role of colleges and universities. In September 2015, 54% of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country; 37% rated their impact negatively.”>>>>>>

    I think they are reacting to the liberal influence in college curriculums…..less classical
    education and too much studying of the identity navel.

    Here are some related articles.

    The war on ‘microaggressions:’ Has it created a ‘victimhood culture’ on campuses?

    The March Of The Cry-Bullies

    The Rise of the Culture of Victimhood Explained
    ”New York University moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt is signposting a fascinating article, “Microaggression and Moral Cultures,” by two sociologists in the journal Comparative Sociology. The argument in the article is that U.S. society is in the midst of a large-scale moral change in which we are experiencing the emergence of a victimhood culture that is distinct from the honor cultures and dignity cultures of the past. If true, this bodes really bad for future social and political peace.

    Sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning are arguing that the U.S. is now transitioning to a victimhood culture that combines both the honor culture’s quickness to take offense with the dignity culture’s use of third parties to police and punish transgressions. The result is people are encouraged to think of themselves as weak, marginalized, and oppressed. This is nothing less than demoralizing and polarizing as everybody seeks to become a “victim.”
    To give readers some idea of what is being argued, I include below a couple of sections highlighted by Haidt. Bracketed comments are by Haidt.
    A) Microaggression as Overstratification
    According to Black (2011), as noted above, changes in stratification, intimacy, and diversity cause conflict. Microaggression complaints are largely about changes in stratification. They document actions said to increase the level of inequality in a social relationship – actions Black refers to as “overstratification.” Overstratification offenses occur whenever anyone rises above or falls below others in status. [Therefore…] a morality that privileges equality and condemns oppression is most likely to arise precisely in settings that already have relatively high degrees of equality… In modern Western societies, egalitarian ethics have developed alongside actual political and economic equality.As women moved into the workforce in large numbers, became increasingly educated, made inroads into highly paid professions such as law and medicine, and became increasingly prominent in local, state, and national politics, sexism became increasingly deviant. The taboo has grown so strong that making racist statements, even in private, might jeopardize the careers of celebrities or the assets of businessmen (e.g., Fenno, Christensen, and Rainey 2014; Lynch 2013). [p.706-707] [In other words, as progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offense to trigger a high level of outrage. The goalposts shift, allowing participants to maintain a constant level of anger and constant level of perceived victimization.]
    B) Microaggression as underdiversity
    Microaggression offenses also tend to involve what Black calls “underdiversity” – the rejection of a culture. Large acts of underdiversity include things like genocide or political oppression, while smaller acts include ethnic jokes or insults. The publicizers of microaggressions are concerned with the latter, as well as more subtle, perhaps inadvertent, cultural slights…. Just as overstratification conflict varies inversely with stratification, underdiversity conflict varies directly with diversity (Black 2011:139). Attempts to increase stratification, we saw, are more deviant where stratification is at a minimum; likewise, attempts to decrease diversity are more deviant where diversity is at a maximum. In modern Western societies, an ethic of cultural tolerance – and often incompatibly, intolerance of intolerance – has developed in tandem with increasing diversity. Since microaggression offenses normally involve overstratification and underdiversity, intense concern about such offenses occurs at the intersection of the social conditions conducive to the seriousness of each. It is in egalitarian and diverse settings – such as at modern American universities – that equality and diversity are most valued, and it is in these settings that perceived offenses against these values are most deviant. [p.707]. [Again, the paradox: places that make the most progress toward equality and diversity can expect to have the “lowest bar” for what counts as an offense against equality and inclusivity. Some colleges have lowered the bar so far that an innocent question, motivated by curiosity, such as “where are you from” is now branded as an act of aggression.]
    C) Victimhood as Virtue
    When the victims publicize microaggressions they call attention to what they see as the deviant behavior of the offenders. In doing so they also call attention to their own victimization. Indeed, many ways of attracting the attention and sympathy of third parties emphasize or exacerbate the low status of the aggrieved. People portray themselves as oppressed by the powerful – as damaged, disadvantaged, and needy. [They describe such practices going back to ancient Rome and India] … But why emphasize one’s victimization? Certainly the distinction between offender and victim always has moral significance, lowering the offender’s moral status. In the settings such as those that generate microaggression catalogs, though, where offenders are oppressors and victims are the oppressed, it also raises the moral status of the victims. This only increases the incentive to publicize grievances, and it means aggrieved parties are especially likely to highlight their identity as victims, emphasizing their own suffering and innocence. Their adversaries are privileged and blameworthy, but they themselves are pitiable and blameless. [p.707-708] [This is the great tragedy: the culture of victimization rewards people for taking on a personal identity as one who is damaged, weak, and aggrieved. This is a recipe for failure — and constant litigation — after students graduate from college and attempt to enter the workforce].

    There is a Microaggression Project now started by some universities/professors where people are encouraged to post examples of aggressions against them. Some are vaild many are ridiculous.

    Here are some examples:

    ”Every man who walks into the office says “Hello Girls” to me and my coworker, but will address each man by name. If I mention this I know my male coworkers would never understand why it’s so rude and belittling. Happens EVERY SINGLE TIME!!””

    * Maybe the man doesnt know the girls names. If the man addressed her by name she would claim he was ‘too familiar”.

    “”I don’t get why you’re excluding me like this. I’m Jewish; I know oppression.”
    A peer to me (a black male) in the midst of a discussion on discrimination and privilege. He is a white male, the son of two doctors, who went to boarding school and is attending an Ivy League university. I was raised by a waitress mother in the inner city and am attending community college”

    *This one is a real gem, two victims microagressing each other.

    Beam me up Scotty !!!

    • backwardsevolution
      July 18, 2017 at 03:06

      Cal – good post. “…a morality that privileges equality and condemns oppression is most likely to arise precisely in settings that already have relatively high degrees of equality.” That makes sense. It is precisely this already high degree of equality that gives them the courage to act up or demand more. Without it, they wouldn’t speak up. As with any group, especially when you start pandering to their every whim or ridiculous request, they won’t be happy until they are above you. They don’t really want equality; they want specialness.

      Victimhood culture is a perfect description.

      • Cal
        July 18, 2017 at 14:31

        @ backwards

        yep that’s it in a nutshell.
        The victims accuse others of feeling ‘entitled’ or being privileged—-when it is they who have assumed the ‘entitled position in many cases.

  8. Julian
    July 17, 2017 at 20:34

    Universities are not holy sites for free thinking and the exchanging of ideas in a peaceful and constructive manner anymore. Universities don’t produce young academics with the capacity for thinking outside the box anymore. Most university students today are little more than drones who adhere to some vague ideology, are lead by cultish leaders and viciously attack anyone who dares to challenge their views. Warren Farrell, a soft-spoken, mild-mannered and very polite man, was viciously attacked when he dared to challenge the wage gap about which feminists can’t seem to shut up. Professors who refuse to slavishly teach the lies the left deems as fact are kept from lecturing, are threatened and have had their careers cut short due to zealous students pressuring the administration into firing them.

    In a liberal society, tolerance will be the result. The regressive left don’t see tolerance as the end, but as the means and will ironically silence anyone defying their ideas. The goal is no longer equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome. Being black is seen as a sort of advantage and justification for automatically being entitled to certain privileges, which is ironically what racism is about: Separating humans by the color of their skin and treating them differently because of it. “Diverse” has come to mean “no white males”. Politically correctness has grown out of control and devolved into a cancerous growth which has openly attacked and infected freedom of speech. Debates and discussions are shot down before they can start because everyone is more concerned by not offending someone rather than actually saying what they mean. Is that offensive? Is this offensive? Is this cultural appropriation? It has gone so far that even literature is being attacked, censored and destroyed because it is seen as “intolerant”. Mark Twain’s works are being censored and even banned because they contain the word “nigger”, which was an absolutely common word during the time the books were written.

    Tolerance is a good idea that has spirraled out of control. And the following proverb sums it up perfectly: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

    • Cal
      July 18, 2017 at 01:46

      ” Tolerance is a good idea that has spirraled out of control. And the following proverb sums it up perfectly: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”>>>>

      You’re right imo

  9. Mild-ly Facetious
    July 17, 2017 at 18:06

    Howl, Parts I & II
    Allen Ginsberg, 1926 – 1997

    For Carl Solomon

    I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
    starving hysterical naked,
    dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
    for an angry fix,
    angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
    connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
    who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking
    in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating
    across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
    who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw
    Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs
    who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
    hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the
    scholars of war,
    who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing
    obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
    who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their
    money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through
    the wall,

  10. Mild-ly Facetious
    July 17, 2017 at 17:55

    how’ve we tolerated
    policies of exclusion

    and the championing

    of separate but equal
    as Living = existence

    some are more equal
    than subdued convicts.

    ones assumed guilty
    by – no available bail

    spend months in jail
    mental punishment

    corroborated by a
    shock of thorazine.

  11. Joe Average
    July 17, 2017 at 17:45

    All the years I thought of myself as a tolerant person. This perception should change. Last year I realized that tolerance / intolerance seems to be like some pendulum. Whilst I’ve always been against oppression, some modern trends go too far. Although I’m in favor of being “political correct”, I strongly disagree with the idea of gener-neutral speech (be it in the form of a lecture or in some written form). In the past businesses needed to provide separate stalls for women and men. Now, that indecisive people are free to decide which toilet to use, why providing separate toilets at all? Should businesses be forced to make available stalls for each gender? Why not resort to unisex toilets? When browsing articles about Canadian professor Jordan Peterson someone might think of a dangerous right-winger, despite his legitimate concerns. People who like to keep it the way it had been in the past are vilified as intolerant?!? (Keep in mind: we’re not talking about slavery or skin color, we’re talking about men and women.)

    Whilst searching for sources for this comment I came across an article headlined “Skirts for boys at private Highgate School”. If this school were some Scottish facility I could look at such an idea as an attempt of conservation of Scottish Culture, but it’s located in London. Designers of the fashion industry also participate in that nonsense. The world seems to have gone nuts. We’re facing far more important challenges than debating the usage of the correct form of address for a person or which toilet to use.

    • Zachary Smith
      July 17, 2017 at 20:27

      We’re facing far more important challenges than debating the usage of the correct form of address for a person or which toilet to use.

      Agreed. But you must admit that all the Corporate Media attention given to these issues is great at distracting us from those “far more important challenges”.

  12. Zachary Smith
    July 17, 2017 at 16:37

    I read this piece twice, and also examined all the links. End result – I couldn’t make heads or tails of most of it. Only the final link had some stuff I understood.

    We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

    Somebody has already mentioned BDS. Israel has been claiming an absolute right to do and say anything it pleases because they’re God’s Favorite People (the unique Holy Holocaust works too) so the BDS folks – who contradict and oppose the thieving and murdering – are anti-semites.

    Also, Israel’s right to enormous drains on US taxpayers and unlimited US smashing of small Muslim nations shall not be infringed.

  13. DFC
    July 17, 2017 at 13:54

    Great Article! I think this sentence should serve as the abstract:

    “Thus, the campus consensus is that while an individual can privately feel as he or she likes about topics such as homosexuality or racial integration, and can choose their social circle accordingly, it is wrong to publicly act in an overtly discriminatory way.”

    The solution to this is simple, pass laws that punish people from doing this on college campuses, public spaces, social media etc.. If the penalties are great enough all of this can be shut down quickly and permanently. There are enough educated progressives around who can police this by reporting the offenders to college administrators, local law enforcement and the social media corporations. If people want to continue to uses these resources, after offending, some kind of certifiable re-education program can be mandated for readmission. People who re-offend, after going through the program, should face long term bans or lifetime bans depending on the egregiousness of the offence. (for example, inadvertent micro-aggressions would be penalized less harshly than overt statements)

    If these people should somehow organize enough to win elections (like Trump deplorables) and try to reverse progress, then we need to re-look at the democratic processes (gerrymandering) that allowed this to happen. In the worst-case scenario, we may need to limit democracy (re-gerrymand) until these people are re-educated and/or are purged from making public policy. (should poor uneducated country rednecks have the same voting power as educated, urbane city dwellers?) Also, we need to take a serious look at the enablers of these individuals, Breitbart, FNC, InfoWars, etc. Are these outlets really serving the public good? Yes, we have freedom of the press, but that does not mean that freedom can be misused by publishing “alternate facts” or inflating isolated instances as wedges to destroy a society that is on the verge of becoming the epitome of a tolerant society and beacon to the rest of the repressed world. These outlets were instrumental in getting Trump elected, so we need to understand how that happened and root-out and extirpate what contributed to that.

    Some may argue that this sounds like repression, but it isn’t. It is selective, temporary repression until the results (a tolerant society) are achieved by purging it of its intolerant elements. Universities should be seen as microcosms or prototypes (not attacked) of what American society will eventually look like after the struggle is over.

    • mike k
      July 17, 2017 at 14:11

      Sounds like a great road map for censorship of speech. Complete with a Ministry of Truth, Thought Police, re-education centers for brain cleansing – the whole enchilada! That should take care of those lefties, free speech types, Constitutionalists, etc. (Warning, irony at work.)

    • aquadraht
      July 17, 2017 at 14:35

      Funny comment. Were you serious? If so, I might add that you forgot the proposal to setup re-education camps where diehard intolerant elements may be detained performing hard labor until they admit their wrongness and repent. A nationwide system of neighborhood guardians (block wardens) might be set up to monitor the good behaviour of the rednecks and deplorables. For those who prove uneducatable some kind of final solution might be considered.

    • Herman
      July 17, 2017 at 16:56

      I gotta think this was tongue in cheek, DFC but it also has a touch of realism to it. The policies of busing and affirmative action put in place in the 1960’s had a great deal of social engineering in them, and did reflect a contempt for the people that have come to be called deplorables. I remember a former Congressman I once worked for, who called the policies of the 60’s the second Reconstruction. In both cases, one hundred years apart, the scars never went away. People have got to start listening to each other, and the smuggery of those who look down their noses has got to end. Professor Lawrence is right in saying toleration of intolerance is dangerous, but so can be the alternatives.

      • Cal
        July 18, 2017 at 01:53

        ‘Professor Lawrence is right in saying toleration of intolerance is dangerous, but so can be the alternatives’ >>>>>>

        Well I guess I’ am stupid but if the tolerant wont tolerate the intolerant —doesn’t that make them intolerant also?

    • Cal
      July 18, 2017 at 00:52

      ” The solution to this is simple, pass laws that punish people from doing this on college campuses, public spaces, social media etc.. If the penalties are great enough all of this can be shut down quickly and permanently.”

      lol… may want to rethink that as it would piss off a large part of the country.
      When some groups get mad they burn down neighborhoods, when your anglo saxon group gets mad they burn down whole continents.

  14. mark green
    July 17, 2017 at 13:15

    I have immense respect for Lawrence Davidson but this analysis is very one-sided.

    Physical acts of violence are routinely dished out by radicals against conservatives. This happened to numerous Trump supporters during the presidential campaign. Indeed, most political violence in America comes from the left. We saw this at Berkeley when Milo attempted to speak. Ann Coulter was similarly targeted. ‘Bell Curve’ author Charles Murray has been harassed and prevented from speaking numerous times. Leftists however are never prevented from speaking on any US campus. In fact, many radicals are now tenured professors. ‘Speech codes’ are a left wing tactic to impose censorship on rightists. It is a backdoor assault on Free Speech.

    Years ago, I saw physical violence directed at author and historian David Irving when he attempted to deliver a lecture at Berkeley. This is a familiar pattern. Violent acts used by premier victim groups. This is just one aspect of ‘political correctness’.

    Campaigns of censorship are routinely imposed by leftists using buzz words such as ‘racism’, anti-Semitism, ‘nativism’ and ‘prejudice’. At the same time, double-standards are routinely enjoyed by leftist groups (gays, blacks, feminists, Hispanics, Jews) so that these privileged minorities can form exclusive clubs and activist organizations. At the same time, white Americans have no such rights themselves. Whites must be inclusive; otherwise it’s ‘racism’. Many whites are victimized via ‘affirmative action’. This is an unfair quota system.

    Intolerance, political correctness and left wing ‘activism’ all go hand-in-hand.

    • backwardsevolution
      July 17, 2017 at 15:49

      mark green – well said!

      Whenever “winners” are created, “losers” are also created. Of course, the winners don’t see this, they only see that their particular (and just, in their opinion) law got passed; they can’t imagine there is another side. They’re the winners, and winners are always right, aren’t they?

      The so-called tolerant and progressives have been busting people’s heads, shutting people up, and destroying property (like two-year olds) in order to get their way. Yeah, that’s how just laws are created, aren’t they? NOT.

      You push the silent majority, who so far have been letting the toddlers get away with their antics, much further, and I think all hell is going to break out.

    • Joe Average
      July 17, 2017 at 18:22

      mark green,

      don’t forget to mention that many progressive / left groups had been subverted by conservatives (check page 50 of “The New Left and Labor in 1960s (Working Class in American History” by Peter B. Levy). The usage of agent provocateurs – infiltrating left groups – is also a way conservatives resorted to in order to discredit anything they perceive as a threat to making profits. For example in Italy the conservative Operation Gladio used this tactics to discredit the Italian left.

      In some aspects the left has pushed too hard, but to flatly trash them is the wrong conclusion.

    • Cal
      July 17, 2017 at 22:44


  15. Skip Scott
    July 17, 2017 at 12:57

    “It would seem that Republicans have soured on higher education, with more than half [a reported 58 percent of them] now saying that colleges have a negative impact on the United States.”

    I guess it makes sense, especially if you think of George Carlin’s rant about the oligarch’s not wanting a population of critical thinkers.
    What is ironic is that the liberal arts are all but dead on our campuses. Now it’s all about STEM courses. We are creating a public filled with specialists who have no education outside their little box of training that’s all about career, not education. I would think the GOP would love it.

    • backwardsevolution
      July 17, 2017 at 23:49

      Skip – STEM and Finance.

  16. mike k
    July 17, 2017 at 12:28

    Once you have cleared away many of the cobwebs of your conditioning, you may wonder why others cannot see the obvious realities that are now so clear to you. It reminds me of the real estate brother in-law in Field of Dreams who could not at first see the ball players – he was blinded by his materialist, money-colored vision.

    • mike k
      July 17, 2017 at 12:31

      Later he could see the players, when his heart was opened. As in the Little Prince, the heart knows realities the head is blind to.

      • mike k
        July 17, 2017 at 12:37

        If the above comments don’t make sense to you, maybe reading Iain McGilchrist’s book The Master and His Emissary would help?

  17. mike k
    July 17, 2017 at 12:17

    “In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost. Ah, how hard a thing it is to tell what a wild, and rough, and stubborn wood this was, which in my thought renews the fear!”

    ? Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

    We as individuals, and our culture on Earth are in such a dark and confusing place now. In the philosophic traditions of ancient India, ignorance was defined “as taking the unreal to be real, and the real to be unreal.” In the midst of our “Culture of Make Believe” (Derrick Jensen), we have lost the ability to know what is real and true from what is simply constructed and imagined. For instance, how much of your mind was stocked and shaped by all the movies you have watched? Don’t answer too quickly, but look at how real the things depicted on the screen seemed to be in your willing suspension of disbelief (Coleridge) – the childlike trance we enter in the theater. Those stories and their characters found a place in your mind and it’s experiences that was not carefully walled off from your “real” experiences, was it?

    And how much of all the “news” and “history” that was told to you in books, and by “teachers” and TV commentators did you carefully vet and question for authenticity? What difficult and sustained practices have you engaged in that allow you to step outside the continual stream of managed information that constantly assails you?

    The art of persuading others to believe your concocted stories and ideas, and thus control them to benefit you is a old as humankind. We live in a noosphere (Teilhard de Chardin) that has overwhelmingly been created by others. How well have we been able to escape it’s conditioning influences? When we try to think “outside the box” how many unacknowledged boxes does our thinking still remain filtered and modified by?

    I know from your comments that many of you who share on CN are in the upper percentiles of those who are working to free themselves from cultural conditionings, in order to discern possibilities obscured by those numerous overlays. But you are among the few, like it or not. I don’t, I wish everyone would work to free themselves. But what are we going to do to help others join us in this work for inner freedom? This is the same work Plato and his hero Socrates were engaged in long ago. They too longed for leaders wiser than a Donald Trump.

    The Donald and his guru Steve Bannon are taking advantage of the confused state of the populace to pursue an agenda which has sowing more confusion as a major tool. In the fog and chaos of their war on reason and sanity, they are attempting to put in place a fascist state with all power and wealth under it’s control and used for the few at the top of their mind built pyramid of power. How are we gong to teach people the discernment and mental freedom that it took most of us here years to painfully acquire over our lifetimes? How do you get people lost in dreams to wake up to reality? Our fate may be decided with the answer to this question.

    An interesting essay on our state of lostness and confusion:

    • July 17, 2017 at 12:52

      Mike K,…thanks for the relevant literary references and your astute commentary!

  18. July 17, 2017 at 10:46

    It may be too late to “teach” tolerance by the time students get to college…and who can afford college nowadays? It seems to me that tolerance needs to be taught early-on in public schools. The humanities have their foundation in civics courses but unfortunately they are not required in many public schools. Too often social study teachers are proscribed from dealing with controversial subjects by intimidating administrative/parental oversight and any analytical thinking is left to creative English literature teachers.

    • Cal
      July 17, 2017 at 23:48

      Tolerance should be taught by the parents After all its no more than kindness, consideration and good manners.
      But some where along the line the extreme left decided that schools should responsible for raising their children.
      Big mistake.

      • backwardsevolution
        July 18, 2017 at 00:15

        Cal – I agree that tolerance should be taught by parents. I think the reason they started relying on the schools is because for a lot of children there wasn’t a responsible parent to be found who would teach these things. Same reason the children are being given food money; no responsible parent around them. Ditto for accommodation.

        You are right. It’s all a big mistake because smart, able-bodied people end up being crippled by this practice, made dependents, when I know that a good deal of them would have pulled themselves up if they had to.

      • Paranam Kid
        July 18, 2017 at 03:48

        It is a combined responsibility. Schools are not just there to teach arithmetic, history, geography, etc. but also to teach children to think for themselves about issues in society. Parents cannot “outsource” this responsibility to schools, but schools cannot shun their responsibility about this aspect either.

      • July 18, 2017 at 17:55

        Cal…, that goes without saying, but the fact is many parents are the source of the problem. Grade schools(and beyond if necessary) have a civic function beyond to instill respect for others and reinforce any gaps ignored by parental neglect.

        • Cal
          July 18, 2017 at 20:09

          @ bob

          that’s true also

  19. Herman
    July 17, 2017 at 08:26

    Kind of a third rail issue. What Professor Davidson might address is the intolerance of those who consider others intolerant. Such legitimate issues as abortion, same sex marriage, affirmative action have been dismissed on campuses as the mark of intolerance. Fox News has exploited that. And it made Donald Trump our president.

    Yet on too many campuses only one view is accepted, although college professors and administrators would be horrified that they might be expressing intolerance. Perhaps that is all changing, that such views on the issues mentioned are being given forums on college campuses, but it is long overdue. Such intolerance can also be ugly as the attempt to smear anyone criticizing Israel as anti-Semitic. I dare not mention other issues unless I am forever encapsulated in the troglodyte box.

    • Paranam Kid
      July 18, 2017 at 03:46

      There is 1 big difference, israel has its powerful surrogates in the US & elsewhere, and they are able to twist the arm of deans so that those universities fall into line with what israel wants: NO criticism.

      The other groups (same sex marriage, etc.) don’t have those powerful backers. As for Fox News: a paragon of low-down, filthy, stinking, paranoid, fascist outlet with zero positive contribution to any public debate about any subject.

  20. Paranam Kid
    July 17, 2017 at 05:43

    Unfortunately you leave out 1 vociferous, and often violent source of intolerance that has many US universities in a stranglehold: the zionists & various supporters of israel. The country has been turned into a taboo subject that one simply is not allowed to discuss except in the most paean-like style. This has completely soured the atmosphere in may universities to the point that teaching staff is scared risking job security, and students critical of israel being harassed online & physically. I cannot understand that the authorities accept this.

    • Steve
      July 17, 2017 at 12:27

      That may have been true at one time, but I’d argue the exact opposite is true today. The BDS movement has a stranglehold on college campuses, both among students and faculty/administration. Antisemitism is at an all-time high on college campuses, and anyone who shows any public support for Israel is immediately shouted down by angry mobs of undergrads.

      • backwardsevolution
        July 17, 2017 at 15:02

        Steve – and it is about time. The tolerance shown to Israel has been absolutely incredible. But did that tolerance lead the bully to pull back and start negotiating? As is so often the case with bullies, NO! They just want more. There is no appeasing them. Tolerance to them is getting THEIR own way. If you disagree with them, then YOU are labelled intolerant. Go figure.

        • Cal
          July 17, 2017 at 22:40

          @ backwards

          Totally true. Being tolerant with some people doesnt work.

      • Paranam Kid
        July 18, 2017 at 03:32

        There is NO antisemitism at an all-time high, there is criticism of a nazionist apartheid “country” that is at an all-time high. Confating antizionism & antisemitism is the only thing you guys know to contribute to the discussion, hoping to smother criticism. But that criticism won’t go away, even the UN has stamped israel an apartheid state, and UNESCO has criticised israel’s “cultural” activities.

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