No Tolerance for Intolerance

EuropeNews 28 November 2011

EuropeNews has now reached 50.000 posts, marking more than four years of uninterrupted service in basically the same form as we started

The fundamental aim of EuropeNews remains the same as well, namely providing a compact overview of news that matter. Also unchanged is our slogan:

“No Tolerance for Intolerance – No Apology for Being Free”.

The Paradox of Tolerance

The first part of our slogan derives from the Paradox of Tolerance, that a person or a group taking pride in his supreme tolerance might in fact be profoundly intolerant, not least against those he judges to be “intolerant”, be it in the form of “bigoted”, “discriminating” or even “racist”. The classical notion that discriminating is wisdom and a virtue, not a sin, seems all but forgotten.

Thus, the “supremely tolerant” tend to crack down on the views he is not willing to tolerate, not less understand. The result of this is not expansion of tolerance and harmony, it is a collapse of both. Radical left wing groups like the Antifa are a case in point, in that they do not tolerate views deemed ‘intolerant’, resorting to violence against any such expressions they deem impermissible. Many such battles to crush the ‘intolerant’ have taken place, for example in Stuttgart, June 3rd 2011, where an Antifa-coordinated mob assaulted a peaceful streetevent about persecution of Christians.

Genuine tolerance does not mean assaulting any expression of views deemed ‘intolerant’, and certainly not with the use of physical force. A more workable definition would be:

Tolerance is the ability to accept something while disapproving of it.

That says nothing, though, about what to do with what is disapproved of. A sharper worded expression of tolerance, provocative to some, would be:

I may disagree with you, but I insist on your right to articulate your opinion, however stupid and ignorant I think it is.

This is in line with the quote frequently (mis) attributed to Voltaire, but makes a different and very important point: Any meaningful criticism, however insulting it might be worded, must also be tolerated.

This is a classical modernist understanding of “Freedom of expression”, and the other party to this is obviously expected to hold the same basic view, that a full range of dissent is permissible – even desirable – and can never be used as a pretext for violence or legal action.

In a modernist understanding, information, dissent and free debate are essential, for they are the tools required to determine the truth on a particular subject through Socratic dialogue.

In a post-modern view, however, absolute truths are not there to be found, everything is relative, any truth can be as valid as any other.

Thus, also dissent and discussion lose their meaning, and any attempt to bring up controversial issues must necessarily be viewed as potentially malign, with a hidden intention of disturbing the peace of relativism, cause anger and make the disagreeing parties fight each other.

Thus the need to prevent any expression deemed to be of ‘intolerance’, for in the post-modern relativist understanding, it cannot have a good purpose and is likely to have a bad.

In practice, this aligns surprisingly well with a world view where the Truth is determined by religious dogma, for also here honest dissent is disturbing the piece and has the potential to cause severe unrest. The naïve thus tend to be duped by religious leaders when it fits the purpose of the religious side.

Naïve tolerance of intolerance, however, has historically led to extensive problems, frequently due to the concept of individual rights not being properly understood.

Historical examples of this can be found in Russia in the 1920’s, Germany in the 1930’s and post-WWII China, where peaceful dissent was violently crushed by mobs not understanding the fundamental importance of individual rights.

Classical thinkers have been working on the paradox of tolerance, as no turn-key solution for the paradox exists. Karl Popper said on this:

If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

That was phrased in the context of the 1933-1945 National Socialist regime in Germany, who hounded down and plundered the Jews and any group or individual uttering dissent with the party line.

At that time, many initially tolerated the “political developments in Germany”, apologized for the overt regime cruelness by the faults of the Versailles Treaty, feared provoking German anger, or were simply too ignorant to understand what was really going on.

As intolerance was not confronted in its infancy, it took a cataclysmic all-out war to finally put an end to its crimes against humanity.

Today, freedom faces fresh challenges. Most significantly from the Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and others seeking to undermine freedom and reach absolute power through religion.

Key to their ambitions is to avoid criticism, relevant or not, and to protect their religious dogma from scrutiny.

If no one can legally call crap on the Islamic doctrine that the sun settles in a pool of stinking mud surrounded by aliens (Quran 18:86), any relevant criticism of religious leaders defending this doctrine also falls away.

Thus the ongoing efforts to implement a worldwide ban on ‘blasphemy’, and accuse any relevant criticism of Islam as ‘Islamophobia’.

More than one kind of threat

Somewhat related are the military threats from Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Iran and other radical (and usually anti-Semitic) groups, but these are not the only threats to freedom we face today.

One of these is that of the European Union turning into a totalitarian system with the right to regulate what may be said and what may not.

Another problem is the – often subliminal – “>political correctness and bias that slowly but surely destroys the effectiveness of our human rights organisations and our media to expose threats to freedom and enable us to deal with them.

One of the best responses to all of these challenges is information. Not just any information, but relevant information, for knowing what Britney Spears did last week is no use in stopping misuse of power in the European Union.

Internet and traditional media are stuffed with information that is of no use in dealing with major issues of human rights, citizens’ rights and democracy. The useful news are usually offensive news – events and connections that deserve to be understood.

Thus EuropeNews

Here you find, every day, a wide selection of news on important matters. We throw out Britney Spears in favour of exempli gratia Bruce Bawer , and point to Russia Today when The Guardian guards nothing, and instead features The Muppets on the front page.

EuropeNews is a volunteer effort by an unpaid group who wishes to support democracy and freedom.

EuropeNews is free and will remain so, even though support is appreciated.

No Apology for Being Free

As for the second part of our slogan, “No Apology for Being Free”, it should be self-explanatory, the 2006 Mohammad cartoon crisis being a high-profile case in point.

If an apology for being free was ever to be issued, freedom would be lost already, with only a time gap between the apology and the material fact. No apologies, deal with it!

Modernist and post-modernist ‘Tolerance’

I leave the last word to Don Carson (author of The Gagging of God and many other books), who eloquently explains the modernist concept of Tolerance, and how the post-modernist view on Tolerance is inherently incoherent:

His closing comments:

The new definition of Tolerance is not only inconsistent, it is incoherent and proves, in fact, to be less tolerant than the brand of tolerance that was around under modernism.

Because at the very point where it comes up with that which disagrees with it the most, it has to dismiss all opponents as intolerant and bigoted. And therefore becomes, in fact, totalitarian.


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