Repressive Tolerance

Most conservatives believe that progressives are hypocrites because while they often claim to be tolerant and open minded supporters of freedom of speech and thought, their actions often show that they are not. Take, for example a recent incident at Brown University as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—A small but vocal group of protesters Tuesday shouted down New York City Police CommissionerRaymond Kelly at Brown University , leading administrators to cancel his lecture after he delivered only a few words.

The backlash to Mr. Kelly’s appearance at the Taubman Center for Public Policy has been brewing for days—several student groups and Providence residents attempted to get the university to rescind Mr. Kelly’s invitation, which was denied.

Mr. Kelly has been heralded for bringing crime in New York City to the lowest point in more than 50 years, but he has also been in the spotlight after a federal judge ruled that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice was unconstitutional because it disproportionately targets minorities.

Mr. Kelly was scheduled to give a short lecture followed by a question and answer session. The speech was intended to cover the NYPD’s approach to policing and stop-and-frisk.

Students booed Mr. Kelly as he was introduced by Marion Orr, the director of the Taubman Center, and began loudly talking over him when he began to speak.

At one point, Mr. Kelly asked: “Are we ready to go forward?”

The protesting continued—some students shouted about rights being violated—and after about 30 minutes administrators canceled the lecture.

“The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront both to civil democratic society,” Brown University President Christina Paxson said in a news release.

Protesters said that Mr. Kelly was a divisive figure and students should have been consulted about the event.

“They decided not to cancel the lecture, so we decided to cancel it for them,” said Jenny Li, 21, an environmental studies student.

This is, by no means,an isolated incident, as any conservative speaker who has dared to show his face any many college campuses can attest. I could probably devote an entire blog just to  reporting examples of leftist intolerance and attempts at censoring opposing viewpoints. In fact, I myself, witnessed such an action many years ago.

This might seem the height of hypocrisy for the supposed supporters of tolerance and diversity to be so intolerant and anti diversity of opinions, but I am not sure that it is hypocrisy at all. Hypocrisy is defined as professing standards, beliefs or principles contrary to one’s real character and behavior. If you have no principles you cannot really be a hypocrite. If you are in fact acting according to your principles, you are not really a hypocrite.

The key to understanding this apparent inconsistency of behavior is the concept of repressive tolerance. This seems to be an oxymoron, but it is a concept developed by the German-American Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Herbert Marcuse was born in Berlin  in 1898. He studied at the University of Freiburg, earning his PhD in 1922 and he joined the Marxist Institute for Social Research also called the Frankfort School. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Marcuse being a Communist and of Jewish descent, decided to immigrate to America. During World War II, he worked in the Office of War Information, producing anti-axis propaganda. He also worked in the Office of Strategic Services. After the war, he remained in the United States and taught at Columbia University, then Harvard, and finally Brandeis University. He died in 1979.

Marcuse was a Marxist, but he and the Frankfort School were somewhat unorthodox Marxists. He tended to focus on the earlier works of Marx, which he believed were more humanitarian than his later writings. Marcuse was less interested in the class struggle but emphasized the alienation which he believed that capitalism produced in the working class. By this, he meant that under Capitalism the workers are alienated from the products of their labor and in a way they become mere commodities, too satisfied by the things they make to be a truly revolutionary class. Marcuse’s ideas resonated in the New Left of the 1960’s and he became a popular figure with young radicals, such as the ones that Barack Obama used to hang out with.

The only idea of Herbert Marcuse’s that concerns us here, however, is his concept of “repressive tolerance”. Marcuse wrote about repressive tolerance in an essay titled “Repressive Tolerance” which was included in a book called “A Critique of Pure Tolerance“, published in 1965. Put simply, Marcuse believed that since the majority of the people in Western liberal societies were repressed by subtle means to the extent that they accept their repressed and even welcome it. In order to fight this repression, tolerance should only be extended to progressive movements of the Left. Counter-Progressive movements of the Right must not be tolerated since they are the ones responsible for the repression. You can see then why a Leftist who professes to believe in tolerance and diversity can be opposed to tolerance and diversity when it comes to conservative institutions and ideas. Tolerance is only to be extended to the Progressives and Socialists.

Now, I don’t imagine that Jenny Li or the rest of the campus progressive know-nothings have ever heard of Herbert Marcuse. I would be very surprised to learn that any of them knew anything at all about history or philosophy or political theory, beyond the Leftist nonsense their instructors have instilled in them and in which they repeat parrot like without any real comprehension. Still, the idea of repressive tolerance is part of their mental equipment. They don’t need to know what Raymond Kelly did. They only need to know he is a racist and should not be allowed to speak, rather like the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm, who only knew to keep bleating, “Four legs good. Two legs bad.”

Terror in Albuquerque

Something terrifying is about to happen in Albuquerque, New Mexico according to Organizing for Action.

David —

Something pretty scary is happening in Albuquerque right now.

Voters will cast ballots on November 19th on an initiative that would ban abortions after 20 weeks with virtually zero exceptions.

This is a serious attack on women — and it’s a deliberate attempt by extreme interest groups to test their latest anti-women strategy.

We can’t let this initiative succeed in Albuquerque — add your name right now and fight back against this attack on women’s health.

The groups behind the ballot initiative are extremely well funded and — if they win in Albuquerque — you can bet they’re going to take this approach to cities and states across the country.

OFA is working with a strong coalition of organizations that are dedicated to fighting back on the ground in New Mexico. But we need anyone who cares about this fight to stand in solidarity no matter where they live.

Join in and stand up for women in Albuquerque and anywhere else their rights are threatened:



Kaili Lambe
Women’s Issues Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

The other side will spend millions to maintain the status quo. We’re fighting for change — chip in $5 or more to support OFA today.

Actually it seems that the other side are the people who want to change something while Organizing for Action is trying to maintain the status quo.

Whenever I see the word extreme these days, I can’t help but think of Inigo Montoya.


In the case of abortion, according to a Quinnipiac University poll taken at the end of last July, 20% of respondents thought abortion should be legal in all cases, 38% legal in most cases, 25% illegal in most cases, and 18% illegal in all cases. What is more, 55% thought abortion should be legal without restriction up to 20 weeks, and 30% legal up to 24 weeks. Those were the only two options given in the poll but 7% stated that abortion should never be legal and 1% that abortion should always be legal.

It would seem then, that the mainstream public opinion in America is disapproval of abortion but a reluctance to outlaw it. Americans generally support legal abortion up to 20 weeks and a large minority up to 24 weeks. Beyond that, Americans grow increasingly uncomfortable. With all this in mind, the proposed ballot initiative is well within the mainstream of public opinion while the position taken by Organizing for Action, which seems to be for legal abortion right up to birth, is the extreme position.

As long as we are speaking of women’s health, I wonder if Ms. Lambe is aware that one of the most popular reasons for abortions world wide is sex selection. In many cultures, particularly in Asia, boys are much preferred over girls and parents will abort the fetus if they think it is a girl. There is a real war against (unborn) women in countries like China and India. I don’t expect Organizing for Action to ever say very much about these women’s right to be born.