“While liberal individuals are quick to claim the moral high ground, it’s often the case that they are just as intolerant to views that they don’t agree with as conservatives are.”
Full disclosure: I am a moderate with many liberal ideas and ideals. I believe that health care should be treated as a public good, to some extent or another, and that the government should strive to keep it as affordable as possible. I also believe that our public education system, public infrastructure, and other goods should continue to be a priority. Finally, while I am skeptical and critical of the American government, and have been for years, I don’t believe that the concept of government itself is fundamentally evil.
And now, a full confession: I have found many liberals, especially activists and politically engaged individuals, to be just as intolerant, if not more so, than conservatives. Consider that popular actor Chris Pratt has come under fire in recent days for the audacious suggestion that fans “turn up the volume and not read just the subtitles” while watching a trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 on Instagram, where videos are automatically muted.
This apparently set off a flurry of upset Instagram users, who felt that Pratt was basically ignoring the deaf. Elsewhere, apparently liberal protesters have taken to the streets to protest speakers they disagree with. While Berkeley and Oakland have emerged as the most famous hot-spots, they are far from the only battlegrounds. Across the country tolerance is being eschewed as people become increasingly partisan and unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue with opposing views.
Interestingly, research has shed light on intolerance across the ideological divide. While “conservatives” and “religious” people are often labeled and commonly thought to be intolerant, research suggests that “liberals” and “non-religious” people are believed to be just as intolerant. Partisan groups also tend to be just as intolerant towards other people that don’t adhere to their partisan ideals.
Numerous studies have backed this claim up. While liberal individuals are quick to claim the moral high ground, it’s often the case that they are just as intolerant to views that they don’t agree with as conservatives are. In my own personal experience, I’d be tempted to label liberals as “more” intolerant, but must also confess that my own habits put me into contact with more liberal zealots than conservative ones. This likely skews my own outlook.
If intolerance were limited to only small numbers of people, this wouldn’t be so big a deal. Problem is, over the past several decades people have only grown more partisan. The American public has undergone a “political polarization”, becoming all the more politically divided as this chart from Pew Research data shows.
As Americans grow more ideologically divided, it is going to become increasingly difficult to hold meaningful dialogues. This is going to result in less understanding, more fighting, and likely a less effective government as more partisan politicians are elected. It’s important to recognize that both conservatives and liberals are guilty of intolerance. And if we’re going to get our country back on track, we’ll likely need to transcend this partisan infighting and will need to develop an ability and will to work through serious issues together.