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Why do those who scream for tolerance the loudest fail to practice what they preach?

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In the realm of social and political discourse, the call for tolerance has become a ubiquitous rallying cry, often invoked by individuals and groups seeking to promote inclusivity and respect for diversity. Yet, paradoxically, it is not uncommon to encounter instances where those who vociferously advocate for tolerance are themselves guilty of intolerance or hypocrisy. This phenomenon raises a fundamental question: Why do some individuals who profess to champion tolerance ultimately fail to practice what they preach?

At its core, the concept of tolerance embodies the principle of accepting and respecting differences, even when they diverge from one’s own beliefs, values, or lifestyle choices. Tolerance recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, irrespective of their background, identity, or perspective. It is a cornerstone of a pluralistic society, fostering mutual understanding, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence among diverse communities.

However, the challenge arises when the call for tolerance is selectively applied or weaponized for partisan purposes. In many instances, individuals or groups may espouse tolerance as a virtue when it aligns with their own interests or agenda, but conveniently abandon it when confronted with views or practices that challenge their worldview. This inconsistency reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the true essence of tolerance and undermines its potential as a unifying force in society.

One explanation for this discrepancy lies in the human tendency towards tribalism and group identity. Individuals often gravitate towards social circles or ideological echo chambers that reinforce their existing beliefs and values, creating an environment where dissenting perspectives are dismissed or demonized. In such echo chambers, the call for tolerance may be wielded as a rhetorical weapon to silence dissent or delegitimize opposing viewpoints, rather than as a genuine commitment to embracing diversity.

Moreover, the politicization of tolerance has further complicated the issue, with different ideological camps selectively invoking it to advance their own agendas. For example, proponents of social justice may emphasize the importance of tolerance in combating discrimination and prejudice, while simultaneously engaging in “cancel culture” or silencing dissenting voices under the guise of promoting inclusivity. Similarly, conservative groups may champion tolerance as a bulwark against government overreach or cultural hegemony, while failing to extend the same courtesy to marginalized communities or minority viewpoints.

Furthermore, the rise of social media and digital echo chambers has exacerbated the problem by creating insular online communities where individuals are insulated from dissenting viewpoints and exposed to a constant stream of ideological reinforcement. In these echo chambers, the pressure to conform to group norms and uphold ideological purity can override genuine efforts to engage with diverse perspectives or foster meaningful dialogue.

To address this paradox, it is essential to cultivate a culture of genuine tolerance rooted in empathy, humility, and intellectual honesty. This requires individuals to transcend their own biases and preconceptions, actively seek out diverse perspectives, and engage in constructive dialogue with those who hold different views. It also entails holding oneself and others accountable for upholding the principles of tolerance consistently, even in the face of ideological or political pressures.

Additionally, fostering a more tolerant society requires systemic changes that address underlying inequalities and power dynamics. This includes promoting equitable access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities for all individuals, regardless of their background or identity. It also entails dismantling structural barriers that perpetuate discrimination and marginalization, and fostering a culture of respect, empathy, and solidarity across diverse communities.

In conclusion, the paradox of tolerance highlights the complex interplay between ideology, identity, and human nature in shaping attitudes towards diversity and difference. While the call for tolerance remains a potent ideal in theory, its realization in practice requires a concerted effort to overcome tribalism, ideological polarization, and systemic inequalities. By cultivating a culture of genuine tolerance grounded in empathy, humility, and mutual respect, we can strive towards building a more inclusive and equitable society for all.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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