Lazy accusations of bigotry and intolerance of any commentary or discussion that does not closely fit the narrative of the radical left has become commonplace. Editors have been fired for publishing opposing viewpoints and writers and internet posters shamed for not pandering post- Floyd to the black-lives matter cause. The theme is whoever disagrees with us about anything is a bigot, and bigots should be shamed and silenced. Rather it is encouraged to spout nonsense like Joe Biden did comparing the death of George Floyd to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Apparently even liberals are awakening to this with the more moderate among them expressing concern that things have gone too far. They too recognize that the seeds of our destruction are being sown and the freedom of expression they hold dear is being threatened. An open letter signed by 150 respected writers and journalists ( https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/ ) to be published in Harpers, organized by the black writer Thomas Chatterton Williams and written by several hands, warns of an “intolerant climate that has set in” and denounces “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”
Where and how did this intolerance start?
The first hint of an extreme intolerance and fear of opposing viewpoints began turning up on college campuses years back around the beginning of the Obama era when students began expressing fears over being exposed to viewpoints not matching their own. Surveys showed that while majorities favored a mix of opinion, an intolerant faction of roughly a quarter of students believed it was okay to silence or suppress some widely held views that they deemed wrong. Campus protests over appearance by conservative speakers starting becoming violent with one student newspaper running an op-ed supporting rioting under the headline “Violence helped ensure student safety.” Violent protests over free speech were being justified by the need for some kind of emotional safety.
Something happened when an over-protected generation of mostly liberal baby-boomers’ kids went to college - a generation that seems to have more fears and anxiety than previous ones. Hurting a student’s feelings, even in the course of instruction, absolutely appropriate, started getting teachers into serious trouble. Teaching American classics like the works of Mark Twain b
ecame threatening and offensive. A general hostility against opinions and viewpoints that could cause students so much as hint of discomfort became prevalent. Students complained about feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that go against “dearly and closely held beliefs” and were assuaged by pandering college administrators who introduced rules “to protect student safety.”
Is it a wonder then that as this generation graduates into the real world that they bring these anxieties and attitudes with them and view an unfortunate incident like the Floyd one as justification for violence. There is no other tools in their toolkit - discussion with others of differing opinions would be out of the question for that might lead to a threat to their entrenched and safe point of view. This over-protected group have grown accustomed to be fearful of opposing views to the point where they unrealistically believe that repressing free speech is an appropriate way to bring about a universe that will be perfect and keep them perfectly safe from all their insecurities. Violence to prevent free speech that might offend them is ok. They have been carefully taught that freedom is selfish and too scary. They prefer an environment that values anger and orthodoxy over inquiry, debate and freedom of expression. What is truly scary is that a large segment of our young, educated population would prefer a country that doesn’t look anything like the America they were born in.