Apparently tolerance is not a secular virtue either

Words matter. But so do actions. And allusions to equality, human rights and tolerance don’t mean anything if they‘re not backed up with real-world examples.

To be sure, not every elected official, nonprofit organization, or religion for that matter, is going to be perfect – there will always a few bad apples in every batch. But the number of attacks, both politically and physically, by those who support the secular progressive worldview against those who believe in traditional, Judeo-Christian values have been on the rise. And the media has largely ignored them.

Although the racially inflammatory remarks Vice President Joe Biden gave to a predominantly African American audience in Virginia last week dominated the news cycle over the weekend, there has been a number of instances where the press has remained fairly muted in their reporting of issues that warrant coverage: the violence committed by members of the Occupy Wall Street movement last fall; the attack against pro-life activists in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 17th; the harassment of a Catholic priest in Chicago by gay rights advocates last week; and, most recently, the shooting of a security guard at a conservative lobbying group who supports traditional marriage.

Then there’s the case of Chick-fil-A, a company who’s CEO riled up opponents of traditional marriage so much that three of his restaurants were vandalized, politicians in Boston and Chicago vowed to keep Chick-fil-A restaurants out of their cities, and a chief financial officer of another company videotaped himself lecturing a Chick-fil-A employee about just how hateful her employer actually is.

Granted, the Chick-fil-A “controversy” received plenty of news coverage, but at issue here is that for a political ideology that prides itself on tolerance, non-violence, and equality, social liberalism and its supporters have displayed an unseemly amount of intolerance, violence and discrimination toward those who do not share in their views.

If this isn’t hypocrisy, I don’t know what is.

So why does the press fail to report on it? Indeed, when GOP U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin made a deeply offensive comment about rape the other day, all of the media jumped on him, and rightly so. What he said not only goes against common decency, it runs counter to the family values of the Republican Party, and is why so many conservatives have denounced what he said. But oddly enough, when supporters of the Democratic Party don’t live up to their own values the press downplays it all together or suggests that whatever was said was taken out of context.

If you look at the campaign trail you’ll see even more examples of hypocrisy. At one of Paul Ryan’s events in Iowa, hecklers shouted their opposition to his Medicare plan and then began to throw punches at volunteers as they attempted to storm the stage where he was standing. More recently, a Planned Parenthood activist snuck into a “Women for Mitt” event in Appleton, Wisconsin and proceeded to spit on those in attendance. And what might be considered the most offensive political ad aired in recent memory was the one produced by the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA that suggested Mitt Romney was at fault for the death of a steelworker’s wife.

The question must now be asked: why aren’t people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, condemning these violent, atrocious behaviors? For a woman who has risen to the upper echelons of the Democratic Party in a relatively short period of time, she has to know how bad her party looks to independent voters who are still on the fence about re-electing a president who has added roughly $5 trillion dollars to our national debt in three-and-a-half years and has failed to bring the unemployment rate down any significant amount. She may end up expressing concern for such actions down the road, but that’s as likely as the Obama campaign giving up on their demand to see Mitt Romney’s tax returns.

Tolerance, as all Catholics know, is not a Christian virtue. But faith, hope, and charity are. The Bill of Rights affords Americans the right to express their views in the political arena, no matter what their religious affiliation. Christians need to live out these virtues if they want to ward off the looming dictatorship of relativism that Pope Benedict warned about just before his elevation to the papacy in 2005. Because as we now know, tolerance is not a secular virtue ether.

Stephen Kokx is an adjunct professor of political science and a featured columnist at Follow him on twitter



  • SAA

    “Tolerance” in our day has come to mean we must tolerate all opinions. They’re all of equal value because there is no truth. But that’s an improper definition of tolerance. Tolerance already denotes philosophically that something is true. The reason you tolerate a departure from the truth is because something actually is objectively true. If everything was equally false you would need no tolerance. If everything was equally true you would need no tolerance. You have tolerance because there is an ordering principal and things that are departing from the ordering principal in different degrees so you tolerate the departure from truth. So toleration immediately states that there is objective truth. Where you don’t have dogmatic truth you don’t need tolerance. So if we were choosing the color of a car and someone preferred pink where some would think it was abhorrent and would choose black, one doesn’t have to tolerate the choice of the other, per se, because there’s nothing intrinsically definitive about black over pink. Toleration comes when you have something objectively true and you’re tolerating departures from the truth. We must be tolerant because that is an affirmation of the truth and it is the required intellectual space for others to seek to arrive to the truth. If you’re not tolerant you’re denying psychological freedom to other people to explore and seek the truth.

  • Pitchfork

    “But oddly enough, when supporters of the Democratic Party don’t live up to their own values the press downplays it all together or suggests that whatever was said was taken out of context.”

    Two things. First, I don’t see any evidence that supports this statement, although the author did point out the Joe Biden “chains” silliness, which would seem to contradict it. I would also add the Anthony Wiener scandal — plenty of coverage of that.

    Second, the author starts out with the “secular progressive worldview,” but then quickly shifts to talking about Democrats and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Well, which is it, “secular progressive[s]” or Democrats? Surely the author doesn’t believe that Republicans are religious and non-secular and Democrats are the opposite?

    My observations lead me to a third point: why is the author trying to make this about Democrats and Republicans at all, when it so clearly isn’t? Maybe the author needs to be reminded that both parties, and their leaderships especially, support endless, undeclared, un-Constitutional wars that kill innocents all around the world, both parties support ongoing bank bailouts and subsidies for the largest banks and i-banks, both parties have thus far refused to prosecute KNOWN criminal actions by employees at Goldman Sachs, Citi and other institutions, both parties support continued deficit spending which will add more and more debt for our children to have to deal with and both parties support the ongoing erosion of individual liberties. If the author had wanted to write about “secular” government and religious citizens, that might make sense, but to write as if Republicans are more than a dimes worth of difference better than Democrats shows him to be either a partisan hack (a cynic) or a flunky.

    • Stephen Kokx

      Pitchfork, a couple points. I think you fail to recognize the underlying philosophical arguments now associated with the modern day Democratic Party’s platform. Their policy goals are based on the secularization, progressivication, and social liberalization of American society. If you look at their platform, you will notice that they now support gay marriage, universal access to contraception, and, among other things, a narrow view of religious freedom. All of this assumes certain things about the human person and the type of society that that person lives in. As such, Wasserman Schultz, one of the leaders of that party, has a responsibility, I believe, to speak out for those values, especially when, as the main point of this post suggests, people who also support that worldview fail to uphold its most basic elements. You can discuss each party’s moral failure when it comes to crony capitalism and deficit spending all day, but which party is seeking to secularize the public square and spread values antithetical to religious/Christian teachings? I think you know the answer and, being the insightful person you are, I think you know that the media helps them in their effort by ignoring some of these examples of bigotry that pop up.

      • Pitchfork

        Ok, I should apologize. I didn’t think anyone really believed party platforms were more important than what the parties actually do, but you sincerely do. I would quibble on whether being pro-gay marriage is a “secular” value or not — obviously someone who writes on catholic has different views. Similarly, many deeply religious people (Protestants) use contraception. In any case, I agree that Democrats are marginally more secular in their policy goals than Republicans, but just barely. ———What I find difficult accepting is that the “underlying philosophical arguments” to Democrat policy goals are as meaningful, in practical terms, as you suggest. While certain positions on gay marriage, contraception and abortion may be attributed to certain philosophical underpinnings, Dem politicians and voters don’t seem to be motivated by them and I don’t see these philosophical underpinnings being used to justify a wholesale secularization of society. I just don’t see the great danger here. A far greater danger in my mind is that arguments like yours are continually used to justify voting for a Republican party that is just as bad as the Dems in “spread[ing] values antithetical to religious/Christian teachings.” I’m thinking here of torture, a foreign policy that kills innocents almost every single day and support for economic policies that favor big corporations and hurt middle-class families (e.g. bank bailouts, the Fed’s zero interest rate policy, etc.).———-I don’t think you mischaracterize the Dems, but Republicans get credit, and implicit support, for simply being less bad on a handful of hot-button issues.

  • Rich

    Be assured, dear sir, that your words here do not matter.
    Not when you bend and twist reality to try and suit your limited world view. It appears though, that very few people follow you with any seriousness.
    Nice try to make Sen Akins look like a victim, when he appears to be very ignorant of the reproductive system of a woman. Any male (or females as well) how believes the outdated mythology as to how pregnancy can or cannot happen should not be making laws for women or men to follow.
    And to try, unsuccessfully to make his comments OK, by digging up what you consider to be the other side also making mistakes is ridiculous. How does that make his stupidity less stupid?
    Do you really think this is the best battle cry: We may be completely out of touch with reality, but maybe they are too? I am sure that will bring forth the multitudes of lukewarm believers shrugging their shoulders with an almost agreeable “I guess.”
    Your blog is to reality what Akins is to gynecology. Laughable if it wasn’t in such a dangerous position.

    • Len

      … Did we read the same article? Did you read anything at aLLC?

  • Mary

    Obviously Akin totally flubbed this one, but let’s be honest, the question of allowing abortions after rape is a Liberal Gotcha question. True Right -to-Life-ers know that even in this instance there is still a baby whose life is being held as worthless because of circumstance. They also know that this is the back door through which abortions at all times came to be. And most of all, Liberals know that this subject makes conservatives very nervous and they can get them to say absurd things due to their stress. Why does saying that the killing of babies is ok not receive the very same disgusted censure? Because the babies are not doing the interviewing or voting.



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