The Rise of the Intolerant Left

A Social Conservatives Take

History is full of examples of progressives (also known as liberals) fighting to end discrimination and intolerance. But what happens when liberal ideologies become the general consensus and conservatives find that their voices are no longer popular? Katelyn Beaty of “Christianity Today” sat down with Kirsten Powers, author of “The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech,” to talk about what Powers terms “the illiberal Left.”

Powers’ main argument in the interview is that liberals, who in the past have been known for championing freedom of speech, have started discriminating against conservatives. Among various examples, she details a case where a university professor attacked peaceful pro-life protestors because she disagreed with and felt threatened by their message. In the interview, Powers establishes a basis for intolerance against conservatives that includes individuals losing their jobs as well as experiencing violence.

Though it is important to note that Powers does not consider name-calling or labeling to be discrimination, she does see a societal trend that is forcing conservatives out of the public sphere and to remain silent on critical issues that the Left has declared sole ownership. She believes liberals are sending the message, “‘We’ve already decided what’s true, and if you dissent from that, we’re going to treat you as someone who deserves to be punished and lose their job or be expelled or get a bad grade.’”

Powers staunchly believes that “people have a right to think what they want to think and say what they want to say and that they should be able to express that without a fear of retaliation or punishment,” and that liberals have begun to deny this right to anyone who disagrees with them. She concludes the interview with a call for conservatives to rethink the way they have conversations and learn from this new experience of being “humbled.”

As someone who holds more conservative views on social issues, I have not, as of yet, experienced the kind of discrimination or intolerance that Powers discusses in the interview. I can, however, see a trend developing: as our culture reaches for more inclusivity and acceptance of generally liberal perspectives, conservative views will be seen more and more as oppressive and worthy of suppression. The evidence Powers gives in her interview shows that we are already heading in that direction. I will say that I have been called a “homophobe” and have increasing anxiety about sharing my opinions on issues like same-sex marriage, but I agree with Powers that name-calling or being labeled as homophobic is not discrimination.

Whether liberals are persecuting conservatives or vice versa, both sides have done a terrible job of discussing the issues in a respectful way that validates the humanity of the other person. As Christians, we should always strive to love others, showing them charity, grace and humility. One side cannot possibly have all the correct answers, and we must not allow the issues we disagree on to become chasms of division. Regardless of what I think about the liberal perspective, as a follower of Christ, I am called to love everyone and to be in unity with His Church. If both liberal and conservative Christians make Christ their focus, all the rest will follow.

Kirsten Powers’ “The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech” is available to borrow at the Warner Library.


Comments are closed.