Intolerance, at times exploding into violence, is spreading throughout our society. And it’s coming from the political left.
It’s happening on college campuses. Most recently, students walked out on Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement address at Notre Dame University.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was interrupted by boos and jeers at her commencement address at historically black Bethune-Cookman University.
Conservative scholar Charles Murray was met with violent protests and physically assaulted at Middlebury College. Another conservative scholar, Heather MacDonald, was violently shut down in a presentation she was giving at Claremont McKenna College. These are just a couple examples.
Now it’s spreading off college campuses with reports of violence and threats toward Republican members of congress, and their families, as they hold town halls in their districts.
A column in The Hill newspaper bears the headline, “Republicans fearing for their safety as anger, threats mount.”
What is happening?
A recent commentary in Forbes Magazine from a London School of Business professor calls this “The Post-Truth World.”
He describes a prevailing feeling of helplessness as individuals inhabit a world in which knowledge is, in general, exploding but each individual knows, relatively, less and less. And he points to a world in which business and politics are becoming increasingly interdependent.
New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt attributes what’s happening to a culture in which young people are not forced to deal with opposing viewpoints. This, says Haidt, is amplified by social media, which serves to reinforce existing biases.
But all this doesn’t explain why the intolerance and violence is coming mainly from the political left.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center sheds light on this. Sixty-six percent of Republicans compared to 29 percent of Democrats say that a person is rich “because they worked harder than most people” rather than because of having personal advantages in life. This 37 percent difference in attitudes of Republicans and Democrats about why some people are rich is 12 points larger today than where it stood just three years ago in 2014.
Seventy-one percent of Democrats compared to 32 percent of Republicans say someone is poor because of “circumstances beyond a person’s control,” rather than because of “lack of effort.” This 37 percent difference between Republicans and Democrats in attitudes regarding why someone is poor is 19 points larger than where it stood three years ago in 2014.
The nation is becoming increasingly polarized on the very fundamental question regarding the extent to which individuals have control over their own life.
Across the nation’s whole population, 53 percent feel poverty is the result of circumstances beyond an individual’s control compared to 34 percent who see poverty as the result of lack of effort.
What is the meaning of freedom in a country where more than half its citizens feel fate rather than choice governs their life?
Not surprisingly, for the first time in 8 years, according to Pew, more Americans (48 percent) say they want bigger government than say they want smaller government (45 percent).
Conservatives are exposed to the same cultural and technological forces as liberals. But it’s not what comes from outside that determines human behavior. It’s what comes from inside — the individual’s attitudes and approach to life.
Liberal mentality, increasingly dominated by moral relativism, produces a culture of victimhood. The victim sees life exclusively in political terms, seeing political power and government as the means to a better life, rather than freedom and personal responsibility.
With Republicans now in power, trying to restore economic vitality and fiscal balance by limiting government and expanding personal freedom, the left sees this as a threat, not an opportunity.
We all should be deeply troubled that, in the “land of the free and home of the brave,” some are turning to violence to battle the prospect of becoming freer.