Fareed Zakaria: "Liberals think they're tolerant, but they're not."

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“We can disagree & still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression & denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

— Linda Sarsour

He name-checked a latin root; that makes him a distinguished public intellectual, right?

Also, adorable sleight-of-hand move from ‘nobody has a monopoly on right or virtue’ to implying that everyone has something to say that is worth sitting through a commencement address(one of the more tedious flavors of speech, in general) for. Also cute, the stuff about the value of dialog and stuff in a piece about commencement speeches, which are pretty much universally monologues and given for ceremonial rather than educational purposes.

So, um, aside from that, top marks for incisive intellectual honesty! My naive faith in liberalism has been shaken to the core. Truly, the bigotry of not being willing to listen to just anyone the university feels like plunking in front of graduation is pretty shocking.


Well, liberals certainly can be intolerant, but Zakaria is wildly missing on the manifestation. Oh boo hoo, graduates walked out on an asshole who thinks gay people can be shocked straight… Fuck off, dude, you’re helping no one (as per usual.)


“Conservative voices and views are being silenced entirely,” Zakaria said, in response to the observation that noted conservatives Pence and DeVos were getting paid to speak at universities, but liberal students didn’t keep their opposition to them quiet. Apparently this is the conservative version of freedom of speech: you shut up and listen to them. :rolling_eyes:

As far as I can tell, liberals don’t think they’re tolerant of intolerance, they just don’t agree they should be. I’ve written enough here about such pleas for tolerance between the two sides, and how they always work by erasing the people for whom there is no such equivalence. It’s like the old lament that the Union and Confederacy couldn’t find some sort of compromise, wouldn’t that have been great, that could only make sense if you don’t mind slavery. Right now these white supremacists, homophobes, et al. are hurting people. They don’t need more indulgence in it.


Ugh, shallow as a plastic baby pool.

What about the free speech rights of those who want to protest having yet another well-funded rightwinger thrust in front of them?

Something strange about Zakaria’s piece is his conceptions of “liberals” in the U.S. To me, those are usually people who agree that “free speech” is paramount, and all views should be aired, etc. It’s people further to the left who argue that a lot of speech is beyond the pale and shouldn’t be legitimized with a platform; that protest is also a form of speech; and that there’s a lengthy history of wealthy rightwingers inserting their views onto campuses, including by funding speakers.

I actually just read a FAR better analysis of this issue, including this bit:

On university campuses, reactionary student groups and their supporters draw on First Amendment arguments to promote agendas that are openly racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, and ableist. They claim that any resistance from the administration or the student body to these hateful ideologies is in violation of legally protected speech, and even ostensibly progressive universities have given in to this pressure by monitoring and censoring opposition. Extreme right fascist and white nationalist groups outside of universities also rely on the discourse of free speech to claim their views are valid and protected. While complaining about the “politically correct snowflakes” on the left, these far right speakers and their supporters actively cultivate their status as victims by attacking the vulnerable through their hateful speech and then claiming persecution when challenged.

From the commonsense liberal approach described above, the best way to address these kinds of speakers would be to let them express their views so others can decide if they agree or not. If all sides are debated openly, advocates of this perspective contend, the best one will obviously succeed. However, far right conservative and fascist ideology is not simply based on logical and reasonable arguments; rather, these movements depend on the irrational mobilization of hate, fear, and anger against some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. Offering them an open forum and vigorously defending their right to promote harmful speech confers legitimacy on their positions as being equally as acceptable as any other.



So, if I had lived at a certain time at was at a certain place, would Zakaria have accused me of being intolerant if I had walked out on a speech by Hitler?

Cut to current times and tRump.


Plenty of public voices at the time advocated for dialogue and appeasement of Hitler and Mussolini. There are always those who just don’t want to face the fact that some people are evil, because it would shatter their mollycoddled hope that we can all get along if we just talk things out. At best, they’re useful (to the evildoers) idiots like Zakaria.


Didn’t you know that the 1st Amendment says “Freedom of speech only applies to me and no one else!”?


What seems to be missing in this article here is an understanding of the difference between “tolerance” and “acceptance”.

There’s plenty of things I hate, but tolerate the existence of in a free society.
In this case, tolerant but not accepting results in an idiot giving a speech to an empty room or a sea of turned backs.


It’s easy to go Godwin, but Bernie v Hillary as well as numerous threads here show that intolerance is just as prevalent for those Liberals deemed not Liberal enough. There is symmetry on the right. These are our times, where people cloister themselves in echo chambers.


from the Notre Dame students who walked out as Vice President Mike Pence gave his commencement address

It sounds like he wants the power to force people to listen rather than freedom of speech.


I don’t get it. Could you elaborate on this claim?


Um, thanks?


Oh for fucks sake. Fareed is the biggest butthurt special snowflake whiner.

“Oh conservatives are being completely silenced. That’s why they own their own news networks and how you can hear me whine”


Tolerance & free speech don’t mean that anyone is owed a platform or that anyone else must listen.

Good for the students who dissented, as is their right.


The far-Right has been playing a complex game with university speakers, with the “Young America’s Foundation” bankrolling all their expenses and speakers’ fees, and a local student front group to do the inviting. A lot of the speakers seem chosen to spark as much outrage as possible. (Mainly peaceful outrage until the black bloc types got involved.)


Some of the director names seem familiar. They also maintain a shrine at Saint Reagan’s ranch.



Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That says you get to talk. Doesn’t say anyone to stick around to listen. Nor, you will note does it say anything about taking turns.

In fact, one could even argue that due to their positions, walkouts and protests of Pence and DeVos fall under “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I’ll submit that I am horribly intolerant. I don’t tolerate those who hurt and advocate for the hurt of others. I have great intolerance for those who find glee in the suffering of others, who place money over lives, and deny those they have othered the very right to exist. Intolerant, as in I will not allow them space in my life. Unlike them, I do allow that they can have it in their own.


Sure, there is ‘intolerance’ on both sides. So what. When I take an ‘aerial picture’ of the views versus counter-views and arguments versus counter-arguments out there, I come down entirely satisfied with what views and arguments I agree with and those that I’m not tolerant of. There is, for me, good and justifiable intolerance (i.e., toward GOP’s continuing efforts to place hurdles in the path of minorities via voter IDs; and cutting funds to Planned Parenthood).Then there’s the intolerance that’s fueled and driven by hate and stupidity. Me? I’m proud of my intolerances.