Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tolerance, or how to marginalize those you don't agree with

Our traditional view of tolerance has always been understood to mean that we recognized and respected a person’s belief without actually sharing them. That meant we could have honest debate about issues, where opposing sides could argue their case with respect, and while not agreeing with the opposition, recognize their constitutional and natural right to hold their beliefs and opinions. The protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness [not necessarily achieving, that's up to you] was guaranteed for all.

However a new form and definition of "tolerance" began to morph our concepts and was exemplified in 1965 with the publication of the ideas of Herbert Marcuse in his essay “Repressive Tolerance”. Marcuse soon became known as "the father of the New Left in the United States", and this became one of its prime tenants.
Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: ... it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.
Consequently, true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs. Different opinions and 'philosophies' can no longer compete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on rational grounds: the 'marketplace of ideas' is organized and delimited by those who determine the national and the individual interest.
This means that previously neutral, value-free, formal aspects of learning and teaching now become, on their own grounds and in their own right, political: learning to know the facts, the whole truth, and to comprehend it is radical criticism throughout, intellectual subversion.
This was changing the face of academia during the education of Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodam, and perhaps lead to the interpretation that seemed dominant during Clinton's Presidency, that tolerance meant you had to fully agree, or you were simply deemed intolerant.

This quote was attributed to Daniel Henninger, in a Wall Street Journal, editorial, Oct. 11, 2007 and puts the new concept in clear perspective for us
Prof. Fish has an alternative to traditions of tolerance, and to anyone awash in American politics today it will sound familiar: "That is to say, and Marcuse says it, anything the right does is bad and should not be tolerated; anything the left does is good and should be welcomed." This would explain the emotional intensity and animosity in politics now: The other side no longer deserves minimal respect.

It's not enough to disagree with conservative viewpoints; one has to undermine and delegitimize them. Mock them. Put them beyond the pale.
The extent to which the persistent drumbeat of this thuggish perverted view of tolerance has taken over in our institutions of  higher learning has been brought home to us in the story of Tom Emmer and Hamline University.
According to the policy, Hamline is "committed to ... developing and maintaining academic/co-curricular programs and university climate that promises a responsible, civil and open exchange of ideas.''

Hamline's apparent bungling of employment negotiations with Emmer suggests that commitment only goes so far, that conservatives such as Emmer are not welcome on campus.
One of the professors Emmer accused of blocking his hire disputed his characterization. Law professor David Schultz, a frequent political commentator, said he "wouldn't have cared one way or the other" if Emmer came on staff. Schultz acknowledged seeing a faculty member's email questioning whether the proposed hire was compatible with guidelines in the school's faculty handbook.
It still is unclear how much involvement the out-spoken political commentator/liberal advocate David Shultz may have been involved.  However its clear from other statements that he opposes the pro-marriage view of Tom Emmer and many Americans, which appears to be one of the main faculty objections given.

In an apparent contradiction of their policy statement:
"Hamline’s mission is “to create a diverse and collaborative community of learners dedicated to the development of students' knowledge, values, and skills for successful lives of leadership, scholarship, and service.” The Strategic Plan identifies as one of its goals that of becoming “an exemplar in the integration of diversity to achieve and sustain an inclusive community.”" 
Hamline appears to submit to the Marcuse camp of intolerance to views not agreeing with the liberal faculty, whether majority or "very vocal few".  Inclusive and diverse apparently means only those of a rather narrow world of progressive views, never conservative. It leaves one wondering what life might be like for conservative students.  Is it like the Japanese proverb "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down"? 

Hamline is a private university, and as such can hire, or not, whomever they wish (unless they had a contract).  Regardless of that proposition, the faculty appears to demonstrate dominance of the "new tolerance" bigotry in action and the bullying of all with conservative views. And shows how deeply and wide-spread the Marcuse philosophy of false tolerance has become in creating a climate of politically correct intimidation.  We are a far less free and tolerant society because of it.

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