Friday, December 30, 2005

Developing Political Tolerance

Developing Political Tolerance. This essay is an ERIC Digest from 2002. It looks at how students can be taught to tolerate and accept political views that differ from their own.

As the article says, "Political tolerance is the willingness to extend basic rights and civil liberties to persons and groups whose viewpoints differ from one's own. It is a central tenet of a liberal democracy."

This article makes strong connections to American history. The text notes, "The protection of individuals' rights, including those of individuals we dislike or with whom we strongly disagree, has often been a struggle in U.S. society. Consider the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the interrogation of suspected American Communists in the 1950s, or the FBI files on Vietnam War protesters. In each case, Americans tended to support the abnegation of rights for unpopular minorities."

Political tolerance is a good thing most of the time. But is it always the best? If you believed slavery was wrong in the 19th Century, would have being an abolitionist been evidence of political intolerance for the views of southerners? Would being opposed to abortion in the 21st Century be seen as political intolerance today?

2 comments:

Betty said...

If you believed slavery was wrong in the 19th Century, would have being an abolitionist been evidence of political intolerance for the views of southerners?

Well, one has to consider the fact that slavery violates the rights of the individuals who're in bondage. Is opposing slavery then a form of political intolerance or an attempt to protect the rights of others?

Would being opposed to abortion in the 21st Century be seen as political intolerance today?

I don't believe it's political intolerance so much as it's an opinion on an issue.

Miland said...

"Well, one has to consider the fact that slavery violates the rights of the individuals who're in bondage. Is opposing slavery then a form of political intolerance or an attempt to protect the rights of others?"

Fair enough. And then does abortion violate the rigts of the unborn? If so, how is the abortion issue different than the issue of slavery other than the passage of time?

I am not trying to make a political statement. Regardless how one feels about slavery or abortion, the idea of political tolerance is not as clear cut as this article makes it out to be. But yeah, it is a good thing...