The idea of “liberating tolerance” then is one in which ideas that the left deems to be intolerant are suppressed. It is an Orwellian argument for an “intolerance of intolerance” and it appears to be gaining traction in recent years, reshaping our commitments to free speech, academic freedom, and basic democratic norms. If we look only at people under the age of 40, intolerance is correlated with a “social justice” orientation. That is, I find that people who believe that the government has a responsibility to help poor people and blacks get ahead are also less tolerant.
Importantly, this is true even when we look at tolerance towards groups other than blacks. For people over 40, there is no relationship between social justice attitudes and tolerance. I argue that this difference reflects a shift from values of classical liberalism to the New Left. For older generations, support for social justice does not require a rejection of free speech. Thus, this tension between leftist social views and political tolerance is something new.
Indeed, and the politically ambitious have an uphill struggle if they intend to oppose these trends. It should come as no surprise if they go with the flow.