Liberals need to learn tolerance

Brice Burge

Tolerance shouldn’t be a hard thing to grasp. As Americans, we should be born into it, as tolerance is essentially freedom from bigotry. But I’m starting to think that learning tolerance isn’t about the end point, but how one actually becomes tolerant.

Every person in the U.S. should be granted the opportunity and held responsible for their actions the same way regardless of race, religion, sexuality, gender or financial class.  Not all people agree with me, and there are many instances of discrimination and intolerance around us and those people are usually dismissed as much as possible, but one demographic of people has been able to escape this dismissal: liberals.

I’m economically conservative, socially liberal and a registered Libertarian, yet since starting college, I’ve been insulted any way from “a heartless homophobe, blinded by religious fairy tales,” to “an ignorant sexist that believes only chances are for the rich whites,” to my favorite “stupid (expletive) Republican that doesn’t grasp culture or class.”

Too often in my experiences, I’ve seen liberals just throw out words and phrases like this as a way to win an argument. Often, people like Jesse Jackson use the “race” card or people like MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann use the “heartless conservative spender” card. At first I thought it was just so they could win an argument, but when I actually stop and think about it, these trump cards are a lot deeper in root than to just get a point across.

I was lucky to grow up in a tolerant, yet conservative, household in a town that had its fair share of Klansmen. I would often hear racial and religious slurs in my younger years, but it never led me to hate, but rather fear. That paired with watching TV and seeing Jackson yell about how the “white man kept a brother down” during his 1995 slavery retribution rallies made me scared and confused. For years after that, I would sink in my chair if a black person went by not knowing if they would yell at me too.

Ultimately it was at a gas station where I shed my fears. A typical family was making their way down I-65 to Georgia, as the kid my age was given a candy bar. As his face lit up with happiness over the small gift, I realized that this black family was just like anyone else as they shared a simple, yet special moment. My fears melted away and I’ve accepted people of different races with a revealed knowledge and appreciation for all cultures.

Since then, I have had more revelations dealing with anything from gay rights to feminism, and I feel truly blessed to have the wisdom to realize these events as they come. However, I feel pity and sadness for so many liberals who missed out on these moments of epiphany. For liberals to just throw out these messages of tolerance, only to discriminate against conservatives or majority groups is completely hypocritical and flat-out hateful.

The damage caused by this hate is very apparent. I’ve lost job opportunities at the hands of a self-proclaimed “feminist fighter” because of my openly conservative views and seen everything from multi-million dollar corporations to student groups get in trouble, as accusers willfully ignored the context of greeting cards, cartoons and parade groups in defense of extreme political correctness.

These liberals have to understand that viewing marriage as a religious institution or that spending our money smarter on social programs is not an inferior thought process as people like Olbermann will have you believe. This intolerance based on beliefs reminds me of just one thing: the Klansmen neighbors I grew up with. Hate is hate and no one gets away with it.