Truth, Liberty, Tolerance
McClatchy High School prides itself on its diversity. Racially, 75% of the student body is comprised of minorities; economically, 55% of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals; geographically, students hail from Natomas to Elk Grove and everywhere in between.
When it comes to diversity of thought, however, the school doesn’t receive such high marks. A survey by The Prospector, McClatchy’s student newspaper, found that on the school’s heavily liberal campus, conservative viewpoints are widely suppressed, through ridicule and stigmatization of those who express them.
This phenomenon is not unique to McClatchy. It’s most pronounced on college campuses, where increasingly liberal students have made a habit of shutting down speeches by conservative speakers, and pressuring their schools to discipline professors who challenge their thinking. The fates of right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopolis at UC Davis and former Yale lecturer Erika Christakis provide two recent, high-profile examples – Yiannopolis’ talk was cancelled after student protests, and Christakis resigned amidst uproar over her suggestion that the university not censor culturally insensitive Halloween costumes.
Outside of the school world, a Pew Research study found that liberals are more likely than conservatives to block or unfriend social media friends who express disagreeable political preferences.
The prevailing message is that progressives, America’s champions of tolerance, are in fact quite intolerant of conservatism, so much so that conservatives who interact with liberals consistently are best served by keeping their opinions to themselves. They may have the right to free speech, but they are certainly not free to speak if their social lives matter to them.
The hypocrisy in liberals’ prejudice towards conservatism undermines their message of tolerance and inclusion, at a time when that message desperately needs to be heard.
Progressives, like any other ideological group, seek to convert opponents to their way of thinking, so as to generate broader support for their causes. But until liberals themselves practice what they preach, their rhetoric will not make conservatives “see the light” – it will make them laugh.
“While [liberals] are exceedingly tolerant of their own viewpoints, they tend to get a little upset when confronted by opinions which differ from their own,” teases RedState writer Amelia Hamilton in her article “Studies Show: Conservatives are More Tolerant Than Liberals.”
Right-wing internet memes make light of the liberal contradiction as well. One typical example features a picture of a woman with duct tape over her mouth, captioned “Tolerant liberals – tolerant as long as you TOTALLY agree with them.”
These examples may be somewhat crude, but both have a point. There is irony inherent in today’s strain of progressivism, and as the right grows more conscious of it, the left loses credibility in its great crusade for tolerance.
Now is a terrible time for this to happen. Our nation has reached peak levels of polarization, with conservatives and liberals more distant from and hostile towards each other than at any time in recent memory.
The division amongst citizens has been reflected in our political process. President Obama’s two terms, during which he struggled to achieve even the simplest of objectives in the face of fierce Republican opposition, were a painful exercise in antagonism. The future promises more of the same: President Trump spent much of his first month in office working to undo what measures Mr. Obama could successfully implement, while Democrats obstruct. The parties switch roles, but the game remains the same.
To break this cycle of enmity, America’s warring factions must come to terms with each other. The nation must have “healing,” something many politicians, including President Trump, have called for recently.
Who better to bring people together than liberals, the group devoted to principles of inclusion, tolerance and compassion? This moment needs exactly what real progressivism has to offer.
In order to provide it, liberals must stop shooting themselves in the foot with the bigotry they’ve adopted, and rediscover their lost values. There must be a progressive renaissance.
As future liberal leaders, it will be up to young lefties – like those at McClatchy – to make tolerance the vogue of progressivism once more. They can start by allowing conservatives to express themselves on campus.
In this respect, perhaps they can even learn something from their counterparts on the right. “I have thick skin, I can take it,” said McClatchy senior Tazio Giordano, a conservative student, of his attitude towards liberal perspectives he disagrees with.