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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss


It seems almost unnecessary to observe that the past decade has witnessed ever escalating divisiveness and confrontation, not solely along political lines but in broad swaths and on almost any issue. While there is nothing new about intolerance the tactics employed by those who harbor such feelings have found new voice in the expression of victimhood. Anti-vaxxers, anti abortionists, homophobes, and racial supremacists have turned the tables claiming that the actions, lifestyles, in fact, mere existence of anyone who does not embrace their particular view of the world are in fact oppressors, robbing them of their rights and victimizing them.

It is a very effective tactic indeed. Not only does it enlist sympathy from like-minded individuals who have yet to give voice to their intolerance, it offers a façade of legitimacy to the indignation they feel when exposed to anyone or thing which offends their sensibilities. It is of course a mockery of victimization to assert that others’ rights to live as they wish, to be left to their own is an insult to one’s integrity and safety. These people are not victims but aggressors; wolves in sheep’s clothing.

It is not rhetoric alone that should concern us but the creation of grievances where no harm has been done except the excitation of long suppressed animus toward one or more groups of people. It would be comical, a child’s game of invention to justify bad behavior were it not for the hair trigger of violence that is always lurking on the periphery when the grievances are aired. And aired they are, certainly on social media, but also on conventional media through manufactured events, incitements, and the baying sounds of those who count themselves wounded.

Bullies invariably assert that their actions are merely a response to provocation. Almost every armed conflict whose true purpose is to seize power, land, wealth and dominance begins with justification that treats the real victims as violators of something sacred. The victimizers need to feel so justified and play out this kabuki to attract followers and deflect criticism. Stir in any rigid fundamentalist religion and/or partisan politics which so often are fast friends and you have a recipe for intolerance bordering on jihad.

Make no mistake, the perpetrators of intolerance in the current environment are organized, calculated and beyond reason. They are true believers, not in the actual tenets of any religion or politics but uber followers, disciples of hatred. They cannot be loved or accepted into tolerance, are not deterred by any moral code or human empathy, but are so convinced of the rightness of their cause that they can no longer feel or exhibit humanity. Theirs is a feral state, the prodigy of fear, malevolence and megalomania. This is the environment in which the isms were born and we must resist it not with appeasement, but by unmasking those who practice it and exposing their intolerance for what it is.

We must call it out wherever and whenever we see or hear it, without regard for who it may be that expresses disguised hatred, not with anger but with implacable resistance. Intolerance unmet, offers cover to the unthinking, the placid, self-satisfied, prejudiced and bitter. Only a society that is prepared to impose extreme sanctions on intolerance has any hope of preserving its freedom.

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