The Myth of the ‘So-Called Tolerant Left’

Back in ye olden tymes, newspapers used headlines to grab people’s attention. Headlines were summaries of the articles beneath them, and if written correctly, would entice the viewer into purchasing the paper. As newspapers went online, headlines became less about the stories and more about getting clicks, harming their reputation. However, social media has now very much taken over and with it, a new way of getting attention has arrived and taken the world by storm. This new form of attention-grabbing can be found in the form of short, snappy catchphrases; “gammon”, “woke” and the like. In truth, they’re all pretty meaningless, but there is one in particular that doesn’t ring true at all:

“The so-called tolerant left.”

Even during this extended period of catchphrases and fake news, it’s difficult to find a single phrase more wholly inaccurate than the unfortunately popular “tolerant left”. The idea that those of us on the left are “tolerant” in any way is a completely misguided one, and something that needs to be addressed. In this time of quickfire buzzwords and phrases, “the tolerant left” holds about as much meaning as “snowflake”, “cuck” or “soy boy” – in other words, none at all.

The key to it all is that word – “tolerant”. According to Google, to tolerate something is to “allow the existence, occurrence or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference”. Now, in terms of this phrase, this could be referencing one of two things: 1, that we “tolerate” the existence of diversity, be it different religions, ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community etc. living within our predominantly white and heteronormative society, and/or 2, that we supposedly “tolerate” people with differing views to us, particularly in the world of politics. Both of these instances are, to put if frankly, lies.

Firstly, we do not “tolerate” people of differing backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexualities because we don’t dislike or disagree with them. On the contrary, we on the left support and celebrate these people, as we believe our strength is in our diversity. We fight against our institutionally racist and heteronormative world because we believe absolutely everybody deserves to be on equal footing. We will stand alongside these people day and night because it is simply not fair that they are discriminated against for being themselves – particularly when it’s out of their control. It’s not tolerance; it’s love and compassion. So, that’s strike one.

The second example, meanwhile, makes even less sense. The left-wing and the right-wing are, by their very nature, enemies, with the two sides holding opposing views and therefore disagreeing on many things. When discussing whichever subject matter is at hand, it is the job of each side to try and convince people of the opposite side why they are right, and in essence, “convert” them to their way of thinking, thus gaining more support for their respective allegiances. To do this, of course, you must put up a fight and be willing to debate. This is what is popularly known as ‘politics’.

The Nazi Red Skull couldn’t believe Captain America’s intolerance

The thing is, if the left-wing was as “tolerant” of opposing views as those who use the phrase claim, then there would simply be no left-wing. The left-wing exists to challenge and oppose the right-wing; tolerating it would render them utterly pointless. In short, no, we are not tolerant of right-wing views and we never will be because that simply would not make any sense. To say, “so much for the tolerant left” after someone disagrees with you for saying something blatantly right-wing is essentially equivalent to saying “I disagree with the whole concept of disagreement”.

What do we tolerate, then? The answer is “very little”. We do not tolerate bigotry, we do not tolerate harmful political decisions, and we do not tolerate those different to us – because we support them. The left-wing, then, is not “tolerant” in any way shape or form. The phrase is utterly devoid of meaning and often used only as a form of attack when someone of the right-wing feels that their entitlement to an opinion is being hindered by the reactions of those who disagree. On the contrary, we will fight all day long for your RIGHT to have that opinion – but that does not mean we won’t also fight you for having it. You cannot expect silence from those who don’t like it; free speech is a two-way street. Hate speech, however, is not – but that’s a conversation for another day.

Much like the cake in Portal, the “tolerant left” is a lie. No true left-wing person would claim to be tolerant and you’ll never hear anyone on the left say this phrase. It is just another social media headline used to fuel division, just like the aforementioned “snowflake”. In truth, the left-wing isn’t innocent either, using their own buzzwords such as the recent “Karen” trend to refer to heavily right-wing women usually refusing to wear masks in shops. Social media, particularly the character limit of Twitter, has created a culture that seeks instant reaction, and thus has fuelled this trend of buzzwords and catchphrases which often hinder access to true debate. This, in turn, only fuels tensions and divisions, leaving the centre a bit of a no-man’s land. In short, those on the right-wing need to get it out of their heads that their left-wing opposition is tolerant. We aren’t, and we will kick up a fuss if we believe their politics to be harmful. The left-wing supports and celebrates diversity whilst opposing bigotry and inequality, making us completely intolerant of those who we perceive to be in support of the latter ideals. Their “tolerant left” argument is therefore invalid, so it’s time they started thinking of something else to save themselves from further embarrassment.

Words by Benjamin Hobson

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