@FellowLiberals: Are We Lying To Ourselves About How “Tolerant” We Are?

This article can also be found at Degree180.

Conservatives get a lot of flack for being part of an “intolerant” political ideology with regard to social issues, but are liberals really any better?

A Republican Degree180 blogger, Gabriella, says her experience as a Republican in a liberal setting has left her constantly feeling “attacked.” The people she’s encountered are closed-minded and unwilling to consider or even hear her opinions, should they disagree.

Now, I’m from Seattle, so you can immediately assume that I’m about as much of a bleeding-heart, wacko, lefty liberal as they come, and I think Gabriella might be onto something.

Liberals tend to have the reputation of being open-minded and progressive, but I have to come right out and say that I’m ashamed of a lot of the people I know who identify as liberals. There’s no easy way around it: liberals are intolerant.

Myself included.

We liberals are obsessed with labels. We’re living in an era of extraordinary social change, and yes, we all know that important advancements are constantly being made. But right alongside of that, there’s been the development of a “you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us” mentality.

For instance, more and more people of all genders taking a stand against gender inequality, and I’ve caught myself multiple times rebuking peers for not identifying as feminists like I do. Could this type of polarizing mentality be garnering more resentment on the social justice front than actually helping it?

The problem is, the notion of being progressive is often times automatically associated with tolerance or open-mindedness, when this evidently isn’t always the case.

When I was in high school, I distinctly remember having a handful of very outspoken liberal teachers. No big deal; I was used to it. This was Seattle, after all. It became problematic, however, once my tenth grade history teacher became notorious for handing out better grades to students who turned in writing assignments that very expressively matched his political views. As a confused fifteen-year-old, I hardly even knew what my own political views were. I often times found myself catering my writing my assignments to cater toward my teachers’ views in order to get good grades. The problem is that a lot of liberals don’t see these types of actions as what they are: products of propaganda.

Liberals are also the more-likely group to take dissenting political views personally. In a study on political polarization and social media behavior, Pew Research Center found that “[liberals] are more likely [than conservatives] to block or ‘defriend’ someone on a social network – as well as to end a personal friendship – because of politics.”

Tolerance,” at its most basic definition, is the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Apparently not.

A lot of people – myself included – are not tolerant of others. Instead of existing in our own little hippie bubble, perhaps it would be wise to try to understand differing points of view. Sometimes we liberals have got to pop the bubble.

At the end of the day, do I still identify as a liberal? Absolutely. However, no matter what your political affiliation is, it’s always beneficial, and even essential, to listen to what the other side has to say.

Let’s talk it out and ignore that unfriend button.


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