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Why Do We Tolerate the Intolerable?

"Tolerists, far from being the nice, kind, fair, tolerant people they think they are, in fact are the enemies of freedom and the enablers of totalitarianism."

by
Janice Fiamengo

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June 30, 2014 - 8:01 pm
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The acuteness of Howard Rotberg’s book Tolerism: The Ideology  Revealed, now in its second, updated edition, lies in the ease with which readers will grasp his coinage. We know what he is referring to as soon as he begins to identify its salient features, as if the word has been around for a while. Indeed, the phenomenon is so widespread and so bizarre that it deserves its own term — and Rotberg’s bracing dissection.

Tolerism is a worldview in which the tolerance of cultural “otherness” — the more violently anti-Western the better — has become Western elites’ most celebrated (perhaps their sole) value, before which all other values, of justice, freedom, intellectual inquiry, or political dissent, have given way. Rotberg posits that it is precisely the abandonment of traditional Judeo-Christian principles and the adoption of a pernicious, unmoored moral relativism that have enabled tolerance (though it is not very tolerant) to assume its unchallenged status as the absolute virtue. The particular focus and defining example of tolerism in our post-9/11 world is Western accommodation of radical Islam: the more violent and hateful the jihadists show themselves to be, the more insistent the tolerists are about the need to empathize with them.

Tolerism is not the same as simple tolerance, Rotberg explains, referring to the history of religious and political toleration as an enlightened recognition of reciprocal accommodation under which tolerance is only one among other, guiding, values. Once elevated to the status of an ideology in itself, however, tolerism is a belief system that requires the uncritical embrace of otherness not for some rational social benefit but as a proof of the tolerists’ moral rectitude; as such, it spells the end of proper discrimination and judgement, and results in the self-contradictory acceptance and encouragement of terrorists and rogue states that are themselves murderously intolerant.

Under the reign of tolerism, the so-called tolerant lose the ability to recognize or appraise evil, believing that fanatics can be placated if only westerners are willing to understand their point of view. Efforts on the part of the committed few to resist Islamic triumphalism are decried as “intolerant,” the mere charge thought sufficient to end all argument. As a result, the betrayal of traditional liberal institutions and rights — through press censorship, the suppression of academic freedom, selective blindness about abhorrent cultural practices — becomes acceptable, even mandatory, and Islam makes steady inroads upon its host culture.

The other side of tolerism, as we see, is a detestation of and determination to silence those who dissent from the pro-Islamist worldview. Also evident among the tolerists is an abiding antipathy towards the Jewish state of Israel, and Rotberg is indefatigable in showing how such hatred is revealed in everything from wildly inequitable United Nations resolutions to false reporting in the mainstream press about Palestinian casualties. In Rotberg’s apt formulation, the tolerist position “expresses more concern about Israel erecting a security fence to protect citizens than about the intentional targeting of those civilians, and obscures the fact that there would be no checkpoints and no fences if the Palestinians would give up their fantasy of ejecting the Jewish state from the Middle East.” Such evocative formulations are at the heart of this fine study.

Rotberg buttresses his analysis of tolerism’s signs and effects with an arresting diagnosis of it as the signature psychopathology of our time. He proposes that large segments of the West, including a leftist cohort in Israel, have fallen prey to a mass psychosis characterized by self-hatred and a deluded faith in the good will of those sworn to their destruction. He cites Kenneth Levin’s The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege, on the manner in which citizens under existential threat “often end up internalizing the hatred against themselves.”

Top Rated Comments   
to paraphrase the Talmud, as Dennis Prager once wrote, those who treat the cruel with kindness will treat the kind with cruelty.

Time to stop the nonsense of treating the cruel with kindness
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are two types of tolerance relevant to this essay.

1. Tolerance of people different from yourself who are not violating your natural God-given right to life, liberty and creative pursuit of happiness. This is rational mutually beneficial tolerance.

2. Tolerance of people different from yourself who are violating your natural God-given right to life, liberty and creative pursuit of happiness. This is irrational self-destructive tolerance.

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tolerance of evil is not a virtue, and such tolerance leads to the destruction of freedom. Our Declaration of Independence was a declaration of war - a declaration of intolerance against the evil system of European Feudalism and the so-called "divine right of kings," and resistance to that evil was not fighting a "straw man" either.

“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Thomas Jefferson

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Thomas Jefferson

Islamic Sharia Law is not a "straw man," it an evil perverted form of religious totalitarianism which sanctions the murder of people who leave the Muslim religion, the murder of non-Muslims, and sanctions the subjugation (enslavement) of all women and non-Muslims. The purpose of violent mass-murdering Islamic Jihad is the establishment of Totalitarian Islamic Sharia Law.

Rational intolerance of the evil inherent in Islam's totalitarian law and violence reflects an individual's natural desire for liberty and self-preservation.

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (33)
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How original. Jews are always the victims. Whether inflicting artillery barrages on civilians in the civilians' own homes in residential areas, running over civilian homes with bulldozers without due process, evicting Christians and Muslims from their property that's been in those respective families for generations and in possession of title from the original British mandate, running over farms and orchards, killing American Rachel Corrie with a bulldozer and refusing substantive cooperation to investigate, killing American sailors aboard the USS Liberty then refusing substantive cooperation to investigate, selling American military secrets to the Chinese and Soviets then celebrating the spy as a victim, murdering millions of Christians in the Bolshevik Revolution, subverting the Western World with the multiculturalism that Israel refuses to extend, and imposing an all out assault of American free speech by way of pushing anti-constitutional hate speech laws by Jewish supremacist bigots like NYU Law prof Jeremy Waldron, Jews are always the victims.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
to paraphrase the Talmud, as Dennis Prager once wrote, those who treat the cruel with kindness will treat the kind with cruelty.

Time to stop the nonsense of treating the cruel with kindness
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Merriam-Webster:
"Full Definition of TOLERANCE
1 : capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own
2b : the act of allowing something : toleration
3: the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
4a (1) : the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure ; also : the immunological state marked by unresponsiveness to a specific antigen (2) : relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor
4b : the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that may lawfully remain on or in food"

I always think it helpful to start with an agreed-upon definition of a term we are discussing.

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are two types of tolerance relevant to this essay.

1. Tolerance of people different from yourself who are not violating your natural God-given right to life, liberty and creative pursuit of happiness. This is rational mutually beneficial tolerance.

2. Tolerance of people different from yourself who are violating your natural God-given right to life, liberty and creative pursuit of happiness. This is irrational self-destructive tolerance.

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Liberals are cowards and they hide that cowardice behind a facade of "tolerance". But you'll notice they only show that "tolerance" to the people most likely to get violent with them.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good thought, except allows "bifurcated view" and thus a divided approach as to solving any issue, problem or crisis. A more direct approach would be as follows:
It is obvious, from Fast & Furious" to IRS scandals, this administration is an outright international criminal organization. Moral equivalency has always been this administrations "guiding light." It is obvious to any one American listening to testimony before US Congress ALL deposed respondents parrot this administrations exact:thoughts, words and deeds. To this administration, Our US Constitution is a "living document" therefore ALL social behavior can be interpreted in light of this philosophical "pretzel twisting." Need proof? Recent SCOTUS decisions just the week of June 30, 2014. Dissenting Judges were always 4, the most liberal of the High Court. So, with this underway (dismantling) the shredding of Our US Constitution, We The People are now left with frontal attacks on:1)religion, 2)education, 3) free market capitalism and finance, and lastly 4) separation of powers in ALL levels of governance of the USA. Let's take number 1, religion. It is obvious, this administration's goal is to aid and abet the decimation of ALL of Israel, cradle of all Western Civilizations religious beliefs. America's current administration's objective is to curtail, hamstring, and tie everything Israel into a tight knot so as to facilitate its ultimate demise (Valerie Jarrett, chief enabler). Free trade, international accords, (remember most of what Israel consumes is imported), shipping agreements and even berthing in Israel's major ports is made difficult by Obama's administration (folks, these are sovereign Israeli accords). Obama and his criminal enablers are choking Israel's very livelihood for survival and existence. Then there's reduction in "in kind" subsidies America has pledged to continue to Israel. Lastly, ability for Israel to defend itself against overwhelming odds from terrorist organizations the likes of which no American has ever seen, experienced or even lived with:Hamas, Hezbollah and PLO (Abbas). According to this administration - Israel is the culprit, and therefore should suffer sanctions (Valerie Jarrett she's of Middle Eastern descent). ALL Americans must rally to Israel's defense and turn back this tide of anti semitism Obama's administration has unleashed upon ALL Israeli citizens. Pray. Amen. God Bless America.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is entirely strawman-ism.

Tolerance is a virtue, oftentimes observed only in the breach, if at all, and always has been, always will be, a key element in Western culture, going back to some of the ancient Greek philosophers. Given that most conservatives in America are of the Judeo-Christian faith, or at least from that Western cultural background, Jews and Christians at least purportedly believe in tolerance as one of the highest virtues. Christ Himself, and his "he who is without sin shall be the first to cast a stone" theology is evidence enough.

The obvious lack of tolerance in the history of the West - in the form of human slavery, racism, colonialism, religious wars, world conquest, and so on - has been the greatest failing of our western culture. We of course have many successes to our culture's credit as well - especially when actual tolerance was practiced, such as in the rise of the Age of Enlightenment which finally cast off a millenium of theocratic intolerance and oppression. Which led to our own national founding with the Declaration of Independence And when human slavery was finally banned in the west, and the blacks were freed in the USA, and when European colonialism was finally abandoned in the 20th century.

The matter of some people being pro-Islamist has zilch to do with tolerance. It is simply, no more, no less, than having pro-Islamist sympathies. There is nothing tolerant about either Islamism or its apologists.

Really, don't you people have anything better to obsess about than to build up and knock down strawmen?
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
YOu missed the main point.
Just like the word Liberal is used as a low information choice for personal liberty when it really means more liberty for a government over people.
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Same with the word Progressive infers new and forwar when Progressives demand rigid adhearance to their rules, claim they are revolutionaries but want an omnipotent government
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Liberals again claim they are tolerant but are only tolerant to those that side with them 100% of the time.
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I never saw anyone demand to burn down all gay bars but I am seeing a lot of people deamnding they burn down all Hobby Lobby stores.
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The intolerance from the left is bombastic, from blockin all civils rights act up to demanding that even more civil rights be removed as if NDAA, CISPA, Patrioct Act, ACA, Consumer Protection, Dodd-Frank and enforcing the law only when potically expedient.
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Since the left is unable to defend its moral relativism and finds itself crashing into its own dogma, it has to resort to pretending to be "Tolerant"...because it isn't.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
If tolerance is a "virtue" why would I practice it if there is no god to give me my morals? You say that the west lacked tolerance in its history. Could you please define tolerance.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
I gave numerous examples of both intolerance and tolerance in Western culture and history. The very nature of our Declaration of Independence is founded in tolerance, because freedom itself can only exist coincidentally with tolerance. Tolerance is freedom.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
DT: "Tolerance is freedom."
One example? Tolerance is not freedom, not at all. See MW definitions below. Tolerance of tyranny is freedom? Tolerance of intolerance is freedom? No. That example is right out.

DT: "Tolerance is a virtue, oftentimes observed only in the breach, if at all, and always has been, always will be, a key element in Western culture, going back to some of the ancient Greek philosophers."

You have brought in the ever popular ancient Greek philosophers to bolster your argument. But this statement of yours is self-contradictory. "Tolerance is a virtue ...observed in the breach ,if at all,..." but " always has been, always will be a key element in in Western culture..."

Socrates would have had a lot of fun with you on this issue, I can tell you that.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
There can be no freedom without the exercise of tolerance. Because in exercising freedom of choice, one individual or group is bound to offend the preferences of some other. One either practices tolerance in a free society, or one attempts to squash freedom out of intolerance.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Freedom of choice is not the same as tolerance. I tolerate liberal view points and allow for open and frank discussions on all levels. When I go to a liberal blog, however, all dissension and opposing view points are shouted down and I'm labelled as a bigot and intolerant. Just look at the liberal blogosphere and the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. The calls to burn down Hobby Lobby. Who are the intolerant ones here?
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tolerance of evil is not a virtue, and such tolerance leads to the destruction of freedom. Our Declaration of Independence was a declaration of war - a declaration of intolerance against the evil system of European Feudalism and the so-called "divine right of kings," and resistance to that evil was not fighting a "straw man" either.

“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Thomas Jefferson

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Thomas Jefferson

Islamic Sharia Law is not a "straw man," it an evil perverted form of religious totalitarianism which sanctions the murder of people who leave the Muslim religion, the murder of non-Muslims, and sanctions the subjugation (enslavement) of all women and non-Muslims. The purpose of violent mass-murdering Islamic Jihad is the establishment of Totalitarian Islamic Sharia Law.

Rational intolerance of the evil inherent in Islam's totalitarian law and violence reflects an individual's natural desire for liberty and self-preservation.

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
That those who are sympathetic to and supportive of terrorists would attempt to coopt the term "tolerance" to excuse inhumanity is a case of simple dishonesty. Toleration isn't the issue - dishonesty and excusing bad behavior is the issue. To use the strawman of "tolerism" is equally dishonest.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leftists (Marxists) use the term "tolerance" for an irrational toleration of Islamic evil which they hope American conservatives will accept, and they use the term "intolerance" against American conservatives who are rationally intolerant of Islamic evil. So, yes, the whole politically correct enterprise (Cultural Marxism) is dishonest and is directed against the moral and cultural underpinnings of American civilization.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjaBpVzOohs

http://www.academia.org/the-origins-of-political-correctness/


4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Religious wars in the west? Not sure where you got this one. Slavery is still a modern day issue in most islamic countries. Have you not been following the kidnapping of the girls in Nigeria? I tire of the argument that slavery was a "White" man thing and that it is now no longer an issue in the world. African tribes brought other africans to the coast-lands and sold them to the Dutch slave traders. It was not economically feasible for whites to send expeditions into Africa to gather slaves themselves. Instead of pointing out the lack of Womens rights in all of the islamic countries in the world, you choose to point out so-called failings of Western culture. World conquest as a "Western" theme? Our history here has been more tolerant than most of the world. Even before our nation was founded, the Puritans sought to live by the guiding principle of Gods moral laws and tolerance towards others.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm pretty sure there are millions of African slaves and their descendents in the Americas would would vehemently disagree with you about Western tolerance of their culture which was eradicated in the institution of slavery ... ditto with millions of native Americans and their (sadly far fewer) descendants who would feel likewise. Ditto with billions of Asians and Africans who were conquered, exploited, enslaved, and even purposefully opium addicted (by the purveyors of the British East India Company who saw drug-addled Chinese as a "market" to be exploited in order to generate the gold to pay for the British thirst for tea).

I can go on and on.

But it would not be fair to stay totally on the negative side of the ledger either. For it was the West that made slavery illegal. And it was the West that has fought bloody wars with tyrants in various parts of the globe to buy the freedom of self-determination for various peoples whose values and culture are very different from ours. And it is the West that has provided immense amounts of foreign aid, charity, medical care, education, and so forth to people who simply cannot pay for it.

We in the West have had a "mixed bag" of performance when it comes to tolerance.

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am glad that you gave some credit to Western culture. You say we have a mixed record. Well, of course, we do. We used to be like everyone else.

That mixed bag was us moving away from the savage days. Other cultures have not done that at all, except where they have been Westernized. Even then, the results are mixed, because that's how it works. What, you expected immediate perfection?

All the enlightenment comes from Western culture. We are the source of it. You think it always existed as a postulate. No, it is a very new thing. You grew up in it, so you take it for granted, just like the young people today who have never known a world without the Internet. It's always been there.

You are trying to hold us to a modern standard for our past, when we are the ones who created the new standard. And without us, the standard would cease to exist in the rest of the world. Already, the tide of Enlightenment is receding. Tyranny is on the march, and freedom is on the run.

Instead of chiding us for our past, you should be praising us for escaping it, when no one else has.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Western irrational intolerance (bigotry) and slavery is mostly in the rear view mirror, and was in defiance of both enlightenment reason as well as Judeo-Christian morality. On the other hand, Islamic irrational intolerance (bigotry) and slavery, and Leftist (Marxist) irrational intolerance (bigotry) and slavery is in the here and now, and is compliance with the Koran, Hadith and Manifesto.

“We (in the Soviet Union) are slaves there from birth. We are born slaves. I'm not young anymore, and I myself was born a slave; this is even more true for those who are younger. We are slaves, but we are striving for freedom. You, however, were born free. If so, then why do you help our slave owners?.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn

http://www.alor.org/Library/LegacyofTerror.htm

“But how to understand a teaching which in its ideal version includes both an appeal to freedom and a program for the establishment of slavery? Or how to reconcile the impassioned condemnation of the old order and quite justified indignation at the suffering of the poor and the oppressed with the fact that the same teachings envisage no less suffering for these oppressed masses as the lot of whole generations prior to the triumph of social justice? Thus Marx foresees fifteen, perhaps even fifty years of civil war for the proletariat, and Mao Tse-tung is ready to accept the loss of half of humanity in a nuclear war for the sake of establishing a socialist structure in the world. A call for sacrifices on this scale might sound convincing on the lips of a religious leader appealing to a truth beyond this world. But not from convinced atheists. It would seem that socialism lacks that feature which, in mathematics, for example, is considered the minimal condition for the existence of a concept: a definition free of contradictions.” Igor Shafarevich

“The revolutionaries who drew up the "Conspiracy of Equals" understood equality in such a way that they alone formed the government, while others were to obey implicitly--and those who did not were to be exiled to certain islands for forced labor. In the most popular work of Marxism, the Communist Manifesto, one of the first measures of the new socialist system to be proposed is the introduction of compulsory labor.” Igor Shafarevich

http://www.robertlstephens.com/essays/shafarevich/001SocialistPhenomenon.html

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
There you go with the "Oprah" argument of millions of African slaves. There is absolutely no way that this number is even doable in term of the economy. Who would have kept all of these "slaves" in check? As for your argument of the millions, again, of Native Americans, who I'm sure by your account lived peacefully with nature until the evil White Man showed up. They were at war with one another before we even hit the shores here. For a reality check see the movie Apocalypto. Now to the billions, Really?, Do you know what the current population of the world actually is? Here is a Link of population growth 1700 to (Projected) 2048. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=world+population+growth+chart&qpvt=world+population+growth+chart&FORM=IGRE&id=4534B77A0FE9A3729EB21868CF8BA55F99C4BEC0&selectedIndex=0#view=detail&id=19D8C90C088C58F52D8BA668DC0429C3EBD21CC9&selectedIndex=61 When you're done with all the silly numbers games, I read the rest of your comment.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dems like to ignore closing the border because they continue to support human smuggling, sex trade smuggling and drug running across the border.
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They fight tooth and nail to keep the border open and then call it a 'humanitarian cisis' when they caused it and refuse to address it.
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Their counter-claim is that they are tolerant of Hispanics and everyone else isn't...but ignore the number of children taken away from families, the ones that died along the way, and the ones trafficked for sex trade slavery.
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It would be an excellent chapter for this book.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excellent review, thank you.
I'll order the book if the price drops -- $25 for a 290pp paperback? Oh no.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
It seems to me that tolerism starts with people who are pretty much worthless: Lacking in the personal virtues such as courage, the ability to learn from experience, recognize their sins and strive to turn away, the drive to do constructive work, the wish to help others, and so on.

These individuals know they're worthless and they hate themselves for it. But they lack even the ability to say "this is ME" and instead project their failings onto their fellows AND SUPPORT THOSE WHO HATE THEM AND US. "I'm bad so all Americans (westerners ...) are bad, so naturally other people hate us. And anyone who hates us must be okay."

Twisted almost beyond following.

We grew this lack of character in our homes and schools, especially after WW II as standards for child rearing loosened and schools became jobs programs. As it crests and destroys itself -- and probably much else -- we should remember that homes and schools need reform when we get to the other side and sooner when possible.
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
Liberals are void of any moral compass in their lives. By embracing Humanism, they seek to become like god and set up the rules as they go along. The one thing they have tried to now make us all believe is that tolerance and acceptance are one and the same thing. By turning their backs on the one true God and Creator, they have become like the people described by Paul in his letter to the Romans. "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things." Rms 1:19-23
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Why do we tolerate the intolerable?"

Well, only some of us are so immorally blind and stupid, but, unfortunately those are the ones in charge of America. Our fathers and our founding fathers were not such fools; they did not tolerate the intolerable. Those good Americans that came before us were intolerant of cultures and governments which were violating the individual's natural God-given rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; they did not tolerate cultures and governments that violated the laws of nature and nature's God.

http://history.hanover.edu/texts/adamss.html

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
“In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live [Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution].” Samuel Adams

4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Tolerance is the last virtue of a dying society."
-- Aristotle
4 weeks ago
4 weeks ago Link To Comment
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