Cuomo’s intolerant remark emblematic of ‘progressive tolerance’


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (photo by Pat Arnow)

Last weekend, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made some comments regarding those whom he disagrees with politically and philosophically, which have gotten him in trouble. Specifically, he said (taken from an open letter written by the governor’s office):

 You have the Republican Party searching for identity; they are searching to define their soul. That is what is going on. It is the Republican Party that is it a moderate party or is it a conservative party? [sic] That is what they are trying to figure out and it is very interesting because it is a mirror of what is going on in Washington, right? The gridlock is Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It is more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans. And a moderate Republican in Washington can’t figure out how to deal with the extreme Republicans. And the moderate Republicans are affair of the extreme conservative Republicans in Washington in my opinion.

You’ve seen that play out in New York, their SAFE act, the Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act. It was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate. Their problem is not me and Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives, who are right to life, pro assault weapon, anti-gay, is that who they are? Because if that is who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are.

Clearly, he limited his initial comments by addressing both intra- and inter-partisan disagreements in Washington, D.C. But as he turned his attention to his own state, he broadened the scope of his remarks to address those who simply disagree with him (“extreme conservatives”), rather than just his political opponents (Republicans).

And what did this “tolerant” progressive/liberal have to say about those who simply think differently than he does? “They have no place in the state of New York.”

This comment is emblematic of the progressives/liberals’ definition of “tolerance,” which means tolerance for those with different looks and lifestyles, and intolerance for those with truly different ways of thinking.

In other words, in progressive ideology “tolerance” and celebration of diversity go only skin deep. Once you enter the realm of the mind, you can check tolerance at the door, because if you express disagreement with liberal ideology, you “have no place” with other reasonable people – to paraphrase and extend the logic of Gov. Cuomo – and you should be marginalized and labeled (read: objectified) for the good of society?

Do you believe that marriage and the institution of the family are good for society? Then you are “anti-gay” and a bigot. Do you believe that the right to bear arms is an important liberty that shouldn’t be thoughtlessly restricted for political reasons? Then you are “pro assault weapon” and are on the margins of society. Do you think that an unborn child has the right to the same consideration as a human being as the woman carrying that child? Then you are “extreme” and you should ask yourself “if you can survive in this state” (or city, county, etc.).

New York’s leading “progressive” politician may have been originally commenting on just elected officials, but his broader illustration of how he thinks about those he disagrees with illustrates the deceit and the hypocrisy underlying “progressive tolerance.” He (and others who would aspire to public leadership) would be better served to promote authentic tolerance: granting everyone the freedom and the space to candidly express their views so they can be thoroughly examined, and true intolerance rooted out, even to the point of rigorously defending the right of expression for those you disagree with against others that seek to marginalize and silence debate.

Because, as Gov. Cuomo has aptly illustrated, when your “tolerance” degenerates into little more than a rationalization and justification of your own intolerance, you tend to get in trouble.

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