The following will come as no surprise to regular readers of The College Fix — they already know that those who consider themselves “progressive” can actually be among the most intolerant people around.
The current situation at Evergreen State College is a textbook example: Professor Bret Weinstein is as politically and socially liberal as they come, yet among what he thought were his philosophical brethren he is now a poster boy for Western white supremacy.
But … why?
New research out of Australian National University has determined that “purportedly tolerant people can be highly intolerant of those who live by a different set of principles.”
“Ethnic tolerance does not inevitably translate into universal tolerance towards everyone,” concludes the research led by psychologist Boris Bizumic. “The ethnically tolerant can be discriminatory, prejudiced, and politically intolerant.”
In a nutshell: Those allegedly enlightened on racial matters aren’t so open in other realms.
More from Pacific Standard:
In the European Journal of Social Psychology, Bizumic and his colleagues describe four studies that back up this thesis—two featuring Australians, and two follow-ups using British and American participants, respectively. The Australian ones examined attitudes toward people who agree with “the controversial policy of compulsorily confining asylum seekers for long periods of time.”
“Study One suggested that those lower in ethnocentrism were not only intolerant of (immigration opponents’) ideas, but also of people supporting those ideas—not wanting them as romantic partners, friends, neighbors, or even fellow citizens,” the researchers report. “Study Two suggested that those lower in ethnocentrism tended to be politically intolerant and prejudiced against (the hard-liners on immigration), wanting to censor the individuals with different views.”
The third study, which was conducted in the United States, “showed that the link between ethnical tolerance and prejudice was not an artifact of the liberal vs. conservative division,” but rather was found even after controlling for such ideological views.
A final study conducted in the UK confirmed what was found in the others — that “intolerance was driven by the perception of prejudiced and racist people as an out-group, and not moral conviction.”
To put it another way, the article says, “people screaming ‘No to racists on campus’ may think they’re acting out of principle, when in fact they—like the people they are protesting—have simply identified an enemy, and condemned them out of hand.”
And this is just what the racial blowhards at Evergreen have done to Bret Weinstein. The professor, whose progressive stances date back over a quarter century to his undergraduate days at the University of Pennsylvania, has been transformed by activists (whose ridiculously simplistic ideology is rooted in profanity and demanding white people keep their hands down while speaking) into card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Similarly, an old progressive college buddy of mine with whom I ended up teaching gradually came to re-evaluate his philosophy after enduring numerous school district “white privilege”/”anti-racism” inservices. Yes, even liberals don’t like being told they’re bigots with no opportunity to challenge such statements.
As Pacific Standard’s Tom Jacobs notes, “calling out racism is important […] but angry denunciation doesn’t change anyone’s mind; it just feels satisfyingly self-righteous.
“And reducing a person to their views on race (which were undoubtedly learned at a very young age) makes it impossible to forge the kind of connection that could lead to productive dialogue.”
IMAGE: Joakim Olander/Flickr