The Corner

Kahane In Love

I do believe David Kahane has found his soul mate. From Sally Kohn in the Washington Post, headlined “Liberals pride themselves on being tolerant. Are they really just suckers?”

Don’t answer that question! Okay, go ahead:

The real problem isn’t a liberal weakness. It’s something liberals have proudly seen as a strength — our deep-seated dedication to tolerance. In any given fight, tolerance is benevolent, while intolerance gets in the good punches. Tolerance plays by the rules, while intolerance fights dirty. The result is round after round of knockouts against liberals who think they’re high and mighty for being open-minded but who, politically and ideologically, are simply suckers. . . .

In the weeks leading up to the budget showdown, the Pew Research Center found that 50 percent of Republicans wanted their elected representatives to “stand by their principles,” even if it meant causing the federal government to shut down. Among those who identified as tea party supporters, that figure was 68 percent. Conversely, 69 percent of Democrats wanted their representatives to avoid a shutdown, even if it meant compromising on principles. With supporters like that, who needs Rand Paul?

It seems Ms. Kohn believes that the roundheeled Left doesn’t fight back hard enough, that it performs the old el foldo in the face of the fearsome Rethuglican Smear Machine too easily. Funny, that’s exactly how we on the right see our guys.

Of course the “internal contradictions,” as the Marxists might say, of the non-virtue of “tolerance” is that the thing tolerance can’t tolerate is not only intolerance, but . . . well, just about any opposing viewpoint. Instead, as deployed by the Left, “tolerance” has only one meaning: tolerate us, so we can merrily sap your society without fear of repercussions. 

Writing in 1945, philosopher Karl Popper called this the “paradox of tolerance” — that unlimited tolerance leads to the disappearance of tolerance altogether. To put the current political climate in Popper’s terms, if liberals are not willing to defend against the rigid demands of their political opponents, who are emboldened by their own unwavering opinions, their full range of open-minded positions will be destroyed. Liberals are neutered by their own tolerance.

This is not to say that the brand of liberal tolerance that grew from the struggles for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights is to blame for this lack of progressive political bite. For all the mockery of hyper-tolerant political correctness, identity politics is anything but tolerant. It demands that society be more accepting and inclusive of those who are marginalized because of their race, gender or sexual orientation. But it does not go so far as to tolerate intolerance. 

In Through the Looking-Glass, the White Queen famously said she could believe “six impossible things before breakfast.” No wonder the Left is right at home down the rabbit hole: That’s where the kindred spirits are. Kohn does, however, make one good point:

When fundamental rights and core values are on the table, just talking about negotiating means you’ve already lost.

Amen. If only our guys would get the message. 

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