Can Tolerance Save Us From Political Radicals?

Reason ran a commentary today who’s author, J.D. Tuccille, essentially says that only tolerance can save us from radical political groups, like those of the violent left. However, Tuccille does not make a distinction as to when not to be tolerant. According to Tuccille’s logic, unlimited tolerance (i.e. a live and let live or laissez faire ethic) applies regardless of the circumstances. In short, tolerance should be intrinsic. Tuccille does not point out when a civilization or people should no longer tolerate their opposition or critics.

Last month, author James Lindsay conducted a podcast based on Karl Popper’s paradox of tolerance that is outlined in Popper’s book The Open Society and It’s Enemies. Essentially, Popper’s point is that if a rival, critic, or opponent refuses to debate or discuss disagreements with those who differ from them, and exerts force in order to silence any discourse, then the tolerant (i.e. civilized) should no longer tolerate the intolerant or uncivilized.

A prime example of the left’s savagery is what happened a few years ago at Evergreen State College that lead to the slander, harassment, and eventual resignation of Professor Brett Weinsten in which campus leftists would not listen to reason and sought to resort to force to achieve their aims.

What Popper states, and Lindsay articulates, perfectly applies to what happened at Evergreen State College and the nihilistic left who has also twisted Karl Popper’s point. James Lindsay also spells out why the left is intolerant in an essay he authored last year too. In short, if the intolerant (regardless of ideology) are tolerated, they will end up in charge and the open society that tolerates such evil will be destroyed. The tolerant, therefore, have a moral obligation to stop their opponents. Ayaan Hirsi Ali also makes a very good point that applies too that Tuccille and Reason should consider: Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.