The Difference Between Intolerance and Unkindness


The Owl

When it comes to the political divide, there is a difference between being intolerant of another’s beliefs and being unkind.

Recently, a friend of mine recommended an article to me from his school newspaper in Michigan. The article had a title regarding being kind to others, so I was expecting another cliché piece about being a “bucket filler” and spreading kindness. However, I was surprised to find that the article was actually politically oriented, specifically around the conservative end of the spectrum. The “kindness” that the piece was referring to was the fact that conservative Trump-supporting students of the school were calling for a more “kind” reaction to their political beliefs. They did not like being called racists, to summarize it bluntly. While to them the word racist may be interpreted as a personal attack, to liberal-leaning students it may be simply interpreted as a factual statement. Trump has made numerous racist comments, and as a supporter, one can assume that you either endorse or are at least neutral to these policies and statements, not openly against them. So, one may ask themselves, is calling someone a racist when they support the actions of someone who is blatantly racist really unkind, or can this be labeled as justified verbal political retaliation?

Statistics regarding where each party stands on popular political issues. (Pew Research Center)

It is indisputable that 2020 politics are extremely volatile and people have very polarized and passionate opinions regarding their chosen politicians and policies they favor. Democrats and Republicans are close to a “civil war,” as many call it, with disputes about oppression, human rights and the government’s role in such issues becoming exceedingly more volatile. With this divide, it must be noted that different parties place varying levels of importance on different political issues. A poll from August by the Pew Research Center surveyed how much Republicans and Democrats care about certain significant political topics as of recently. It was clear that Democrats care more about human rights and climate change-related issues, whereas Republicans care more about gun policy and the economy. This is quite clearly a large split in terms of political ideologies with one revolving around national power and personal liberties and the other around more community good and overall welfare.

Many Trump supporters follow him in large part for his tax cuts and history as a businessman, disregarding his other anti-human rights comments and actions as something that is less important than their economical ideologies. This is simply the nature of their ideology. Democrats, on the other hand, are against him in large part because of his actions against human rights. Regardless of the importance individuals place on certain issues though, it really can not be disputed that Trump is racist, sexist and overall discriminatory. It is simply a question of if Democrats and even Republicans against Trump are allowed to express their anger at this through intolerance. The students were mad at being declared racists and called this unkind, but being a racist is also inherently unkind. After all, if you are advocating for racial equality and care for minorities, then would you not be vehemently against Trump?

Data on where Trump and Biden’s supporters stand respectively on popular political issues. (Pew Research Center)

Throughout history, there have been so many revolutions in the name of human rights; the Haitian Revolution, the Civil War and the French Revolution being a few. Now, it feels as if we have gone to a standstill or even gone backwards as toxic opinions become more openly normalized by our president and those that support him. The conservative students at this school are mad at getting called racists and other related terms, but is it not fair to assume that of them and call them as such, as they publicly and enthusiastically endorse a man that openly says these things and makes his stance on the issues so obvious?

It has also now been shown on multiple occasions that Trump has made a multitude of comments that are either racist, homophobic, sexist, mysognistic, xenophobic or even a combination of these. To any who may disagree with this statement or claim them to be untrue, you can turn to Trump’s Twitter history and this convenient list of his “unprecedented steps” for the LGBTQ+ community. You may even look to this transcript where he openly makes numerous sexist remarks. No matter how much one may claim that Trump says he is supportive of minority groups, actions speak louder than words. 

With these variables in mind, intolerance and unkindness are two extremely different things. Telling someone that they are hideously ugly is obviously not kind, but calling someone a racist qualifies as a just intolerance due to its nature as a toxic ideology. Racism is not a tolerable opinion. Homophobia is not a tolerable opinion. If you stand by and ignore these rights in lieu of other factors, do not get mad when people call you out on being associated with these toxic opinions; it’s true.