By: Kevin Mulcrone
Donald Trump recently cancelled a campaign event that was to be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The event was deemed unsafe as a result of protesters and supporters clashing inside the venue before the rally began. This is the first time “The Donald” had to completely cancel one of his events, but it’s consistent with an ongoing trend of protesters on “the left” interrupting the Republican candidate’s rallies.
Now I want to be clear because I know some people will interpret this article the wrong way: I am not here to defend Donald Trump nor his positions on policy issues. Although to be honest, the only policy I’ve heard him put forth is building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country and U.S. jobs in it. I could never and will never support “The Donald” because we fundamentally disagree on the role of government. What I am here to do, though, is point out the irony embedded in modern liberals’ notion of tolerance that the cancellation of his event has brought to light.
It’s interesting to consider how those on the left preach tolerance when it comes to individuals’ external characteristics like race, ethnicity, sex and sexual orientation – both Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders devote multiple pages on their websites to issues like LGBT equality, women’s rights and racial justice. Yet when it comes to diversity of ideas, this dedication to tolerance is abandoned completely.
I use tolerance in the most general sense, that is, the willingness to coexist with opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. I think most students would say that they don’t agree with a lot of what Donald Trump has been saying over the past few months.
In fact, I think most students at Xavier would say that they disagree with a lot of what Donald Trump has been saying, but does that mean he should not be allowed to say them?
Individuals should be able to believe whatever they want and put their beliefs out for the public to hear, deliberate and decide for themselves whether or not they agree with them. If an undesirable belief or opinion is put out, then the public will ultimately reject it and the belief will fade away or only be kept alive by a small, insignificant minority of society. If, after a belief or opinion has been deliberated, and it seems that there is some merit to it, then a large amount of individuals may adopt it. To prohibit ideas from being introduced and deliberated may draw people into upholding beliefs because they misunderstand them due to the absence of public debate or simply out of spite. This is what draws some people to Donald Trump. He is the “anti-establishment” candidate, the “Washington Outsider.” By prohibiting him from putting forth his ideas, “protesters” are not only preventing the public from digesting them and realizing how idiotic they are, but they are also creating more anti-establishment fervor for his supporters to rally behind.
The shutting down of political events and rallies is not protesting, it is censorship, and censorship only occurs where intolerance exists. If the left was interested in protesting ideas, then hosting a counter-rally and having more people show up to it than the rally being protested is certainly a more effective way of showing the public how much support a belief has rather than trying to infiltrate an event and cause a commotion to prevent it from occurring. That kind of intolerance breeds resentment, which fuels Donald Trump’s campaign.
I would like to think that this is an isolated incident but it’s not. There has been a growing culture of censorship and intolerance of ideas over the past year, especially on college campuses. From the introduction of safe-spaces, to trigger warnings to infiltrating events to prevent speakers from sharing their ideas, these examples of censorship are becoming more and more common and they ironically come from those on the left who preach “tolerance.” The most disgusting examples of such intolerance go so far as to threaten individual’s jobs because of the ideas they hold, as was the case at Yale in October.
By preventing ideas from being expressed and debated in public, we do a disservice to political discourse and to humanity in general by allowing collectives to decide on choices that can only be made by individuals. By starting down this road, we encourage authoritarianism and diminish personal liberty, which is the essential to a meaningful life.