America, so the tale goes, has grown more tolerant.
That’s certainly true in terms of race. Polls show that as of 2013, 87 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriage, as opposed to just 4 percent in 1958. The United States is in fact one of the most tolerant societies on earth, with less than 5 percent of the population stating that they would not want someone of a different race as a neighbor.
It’s also true in terms of sexual orientation. In 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage 57 percent to 35 percent; today, they favor it 62 percent to 32 percent. Fully 79 percent of Americans say that they are either happy with the level of acceptance of LGBT Americans or want to see more such acceptance; just 8 percent want less acceptance.
The same tolerance doesn’t exist for differing political opinions, particularly from the social left. Fully 64 percent of Democrats say they have only a few or no Republican friends at all (compared to 55 percent of Republicans); 22 percent of Hillary voters said they had stopped talking to a family member or friend during the election cycle over politics, compared with 15 percent among the general population.
Why does that matter? Because as members of the cultural left cloister themselves away from dissenting opinions, they begin to lose touch with the reality that there are those who disagree with them. That leads high-profile members of the left, who live within these bubbles, to use language they’d never use in mixed company; it leads the leftist intelligentsia to oust those who disagree with them, since those people are obviously unworthy of being considered fellow human beings.
In the past week alone, we’ve seen instance after instance of such intolerance from the supposedly-tolerant left.
We watched as The Atlantic briefly hired National Review columnist Kevin Williamson — then ignominiously fired him for the crime of having oddball views on punishment of abortion.
That same magazine routinely prints and celebrates the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates, who once suggested that 9/11 responders were “not human to me,” and has written glowingly of Peter Singer, the Princeton “ethicist” who has suggested that murdering newborns may not constitute actual murder.
We watched Jimmy Kimmel, a man Guy Benson correctly dubbed “the pope of late night television,” mock Melania TrumpMelania TrumpFormer aide sees Melania Trump as 'the doomed French queen': book If another 9/11 happened in a divided 2021, could national unity be achieved again? Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham planning book: report MORE’s accent, then respond to Sean Hannity’s sharp criticism by suggesting that Trump might “prefer you on bottom.” We saw Joss Whedon briefly banned from Twitter for asking that President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE “Die, Don. Just quietly die.” We observed Twitter head Jack Dorsey praise an article calling for a new American civil war, as well as complete Democratic dominance of government.
This isn’t shocking. Stephen Colbert has referred to Trump's mouth as a receptacle for Vladimir Putin's genitalia. Kathy Griffin infamously posed with a mock-up of Trump’s decapitated head. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE continues her self-pity tour, suggesting nearly daily that evil sexist Americans are responsible for her current plight. And of late, nearly the entire media jumped on the “boycott Laura Ingraham” bandwagon after Parkland survivor David Hogg took offense to Ingraham describing him as “whining” about his college admissions.
Now, it’s not that vitriol is exclusive to the left. Of course not. Just this week, a St. Louis local host was fired for suggesting that he’d like to “ram a hot poker up" David Hogg’s posterior. A Republican candidate for the Maine House of Representatives called Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian.” Alex Jones recently mashed up clips of Hogg with audio of Adolf Hitler.
But there is a difference in the magnitude of the figures involved in such rhetorical insanity: nobody had heard of the St. Louis local host before he made a mess of himself; nobody has heard of the Maine House candidate even now; and everyone knows Alex Jones. By contrast, The Atlantic is perhaps the most well-respected publication on the center-left, Kimmel and Colbert dominate the airwaves nightly, Jack Dorsey runs one of the largest social media companies on the planet, and Joss Whedon is one of the most successful directors in Hollywood.
The right has its own bubble — but it’s not nearly as large as that of the left. And that’s a problem. The more the left seeks to excise all those who disagree, and to cast them as enemies in a war for America’s soul, the less likely we’ll be to have conversations of actual substance.
That’s particularly troubling when members of the left control mechanisms of distribution, as they do in Hollywood and in social media. And it’s even more troubling when leftist intolerance begins to infuse normal liberal halls of power. But most of all, it’s counterproductive — even for the left. The left has been successful in changing hearts and minds. But they’ll meet with more and more serious resistance the more they insist on excommunicating political opponents rather than engaging with them.
Ben Shapiro (@BenShapiro), a lawyer and conservative commentator, is founder and editor in chief of The Daily Wire. The author of seven books, he hosts a daily political podcast, “The Ben Shapiro Show.”