Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don’t be intolerant of my intolerance

The ideals of the American constitution circulate around freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Why is it that politics, both the Right and Left wings, are then so fervent of differing mindsets and freedoms? Richard Grenell explores and bemoans the intolerance in his article, Intolerance Is Back Again.

Grenell begins with an anecdote of his dinner in New York being rudely interrupted by a man eavesdropping on a political conversation and denouncing Grenell as a “bigot and ignorant.” This obviously rare occurrence in New York spurs Grenell into rehashing the intolerances of past and present politics.

Grenell’s first example is of the Religious Right’s “hypocrisy of promoting love and family values” while simultaneously castigating those whom they deem the wrong type of family. The initial point of the Religious Right’s “intolerance” may have indicated Grenell’s agenda, but reading further into the text Grenell rather abruptly reveals his disdain for the “angry and intolerant Left.” Grenell offers no evidence, simply condemns liberals as “elites” that have become “apoplectic” and have no other tact than to resort to “name-calling.”

While the surface of Grenell’s unsupported tirade appears to lean to the Right, with veiled phrases such as “it makes you wonder if ‘Intolerance and Anger is the Change We Need,’ “ and the “height of hypocrisy” is to “become enraged when someone isn't seeing the world the way they do,” it becomes clear that Grenell isn’t rallying for McCain so much as chiding the Democrats for not learning the lessons of the strident republican Right.

Grenell’s blanket statement of the “intolerant angry left has replaced the religious right in 2008” seems to ignore the true growth that’s occurred since the Religious Right’s family values rally. Despite the Right wanting a family to be only “people related only by blood, adoption, or marriage” (Martin, pg. 178) the nation has grown more accepting. In With God On Our Side, William Martin illustrated how much of the Right’s conflict with family values did not stem solely from intolerance, rather what “galvanized the Christian community was. . . trying to deny them tax-exempt status.” (Martin. Pg. 173)

It is not enough to declare the political Left or Right “narrow minded” or “elitist,” both statements become hypocritical. Rather, the aim of ridding politics and the nation of intolerance should be to identify the underlying cause, not lambaste each side with abortion and gay rights. What is the reason, Mr. Grenell, that the liberals have become so “narrow-minded”?


Megan L. said...

I think this article sheds a very interesting light on both parties intolerance issues. The liberals are always talking themselves up and putting down the Right as being intolerant and how accepting the Left is in comparison to the Right. I personally think that is crap in that the screaming liberals are not always so tolerant and respecting of the views of the Right. Constant bashing of conservatives and refusing to listen to anything they could have to say doesn't really strike me as the most tolerant attitude. The Right also has their intolerant moments and they are seen to be intolerant of the gay lifestyle as well as women's rights and such. But the Right tries to justify their limited toleration of such acts with Religion. Gay marriage is not tolerable because marriage is to be between a man and a woman, and abortion is not tolerable because life begins at conception and it is murder! (or so says the Right) Their intolerance is 'OK' because they have religion on their side. But is intolerance really ever OK?

Elizabeth R said...

I don’t think that the experience Grenell describes is all that rare in today’s society. We have become so concerned with labels, whether it be Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, Libertarian or Green, that it is no longer socially acceptable to be an independent thinker. Even if we don’t verbally engage those who have different opinions than we do, we usually harbor an unspoken disdain for the other person’s views. This intolerance—both spoken and unspoken—makes for some very tense situations and encounters with other people. The social pressure to identify with a group forces people to conform to one extreme or another and that often leads to confrontation because those philosophies are so radically different from each other. If we as a society are able to eradicate the feeling that we must modify our beliefs to fit some political mold, we would be better able to avoid the type of confrontation Grenell experienced and rid ourselves of this intolerance.

Anonymous said...

After reading your blog and the article, I realized that it is no surprise to me that one can point out the existence of intolerance one party has for the other and vice versa because of the polarization our government has undergone in the last decade or so. This polarization, not being limited to our government, is felt and believed by the people being governed. I think this polarization of the people has forced politicians to take one side or the other in its entirety and to its extreme to please their constituents. I believe that if you were to take a stance of tolerance, defining tolerance as having an understanding and respect for beliefs in opposition to one’s own beliefs, I think that society would harass you for not taking a stance at all or being wishy-washy.