The increasing intolerance of the left must stop
By Bill Connor
In the past decade, the Democratic Party has moved further and further to the progressive left, while claiming the labels of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. Just more than a decade ago, Democratic candidates were not credible without voicing support for traditional marriage, as was the case with both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election. The Democratic Party was solidly against words like “socialism,” or of any support for defunding the police. As we have all seen in the recent election cycle, the party has morphed to the far progressive left, both economically and socially. Although it continues to label itself the party of diversity, inclusion and tolerance, and the reality is the opposite and must change. Let me explain.
Despite calls for national unity after many media outlets “called” the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden’s rhetoric was countered by the shrill calls from his party. For example, around the time of Joe Biden’s “victory speech” (held before Trump’s concession and while votes were being counted and legal challenges made) Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a disturbing question: Whether or not someone was “archiving” Trump supporters to prevent them from being able to “downplay or deny their complicity” of their political support. Immediately, a group called the “Trump Accountability Project” answering AOC and made clear the blacklisting of Trump supporters was well underway. This is a group, by the way, supported by Buttigieg and Obama aides. CNNs Jake Tapper warned Trump supporters that future “employers” would likely question their “character” for Trump support. “The View’s” Sunny Hostin justified the blacklist because “past is prologue” and would not concede the obvious comparison of this to McCarthyism.
The primary means of intolerance of conservatism by the Progressive Left has taken the form of the ultimate stigma in modern America: Racism. Stigmatizing with the charge of racism has become ubiquitous from the Left. As Zachary Leeman has written: “They constantly slam the opposition as white supremacists, misogynists, fascists, etc. Even someone like rapper Ice Cube simply admitting to working with the administration on legislation to help black communities was enough to get him called a racist and labeled a Trump supporter.” Conservatives in Hollywood, like James Woods and others, have expressed how conservative politics have kept them out of certain jobs. As Leeman also wrote: “The president himself accused the industry of blacklisting conservatives after ‘Will & Grace’ stars Debra Messing and Eric McCormack demanded knowing who was attending a Hollywood fundraiser for the president.”
In a twisted irony, the left has even begun to argue that silencing and blacklisting conservative viewpoints is part of creating a more tolerant, diverse and inclusive viewpoint. On our nation’s campuses, silencing and ostracism of conservatives is rampant. As published in Atlantic Magazine in Feb 2020 (about the University of North Carolina): 68 percent of conservative students self-censor their conservative views due to fear of retribution (compared with under a quarter of liberal students). More than six times more liberal students than conservative students agreed with shutting down speech students found objectionable. Better than eight times more liberal students than conservative students would refuse to be friends with someone across the political divide. Those numbers are worse at the elite Ivy League schools and across the nation’s universities, intolerance of conservatism grown.
Polish university professor, Dr. Ryszard Legutko, has written about the similarities he found between liberalism in the West and the totalitarian communism he experienced in Poland as a dissident. The similarities come with the coercion to conform to the prevailing ideology and associated intolerance of opposing viewpoints: “The grand design, its supporters say, should be implementation at all cost because it is believed to bring with itself freedom, autonomy, tolerance, pluralism and all other liberal-democratic treasures. Therefore, all barriers that block its coming can and must be broken down, also for the benefit of those who put up these barriers. If abortion means freedom, then we should raise the consciousness of those who think differently; force doctors to support this freedom and silence priests so they do not interfere with it. If same-sex marriage means freedom, we should then compel its opponents to accept it and silence fools who have doubts about it. If political correctness is a necessity of life in liberal-democratic society, then imposing it is, after all, nothing else but a measure of its emancipation for all.”
Dr. Legutko experienced an unexpected dynamic after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union. The former communists of the Eastern Bloc were more accepted and adapted to the prevailing liberalism of the European Union. Ironically, the anticommunists, who had endured persecution of totalitarianism, became an enemy of Western liberalism. The conservative viewpoint of the anticommunists and their refusal to conform was not acceptable to the progressives. Nations like Hungary, after electing conservative leadership that didn’t bow to the prevailing progressive orthodoxy, have been at odds with the ideology of the European Union. It’s been the same in America for those who have supported the conservative agenda and particularly of the Trump administration. The progressive calls for blacklisting have moved things to a level that becomes comparable to the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union.
It’s time for Americans to wake up to the dangers of increasing intolerance of the conservative viewpoint. If rising progressive intolerance silences conservatism, one party and viewpoint would reign without checks and balances. History has shown that the Christian church would come under enormous pressure to “conform” to the prevailing orthodoxy or come under persecution. As Jesus told us, “the truth will set you free” and liberty ceases when His truth is outlawed. It is time to turn around the intolerance while we still have the freedom to do so.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.