by Howard Rotberg

“If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
– Sir Karl Popper, the Austrian-British philosopher regarding toleration.


In my book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed, I wrote about the ideology of excessive tolerance of evil, which I termed “Tolerism”.

Tolerism in my definition is an excessive tolerance, in fact a leniency, for the intolerant and unsupportable views that threaten our very freedoms. It has become an ideology for those who hold tolerance to be a higher virtue than Justice and Human Rights. Tolerism is the skill in consuming massive quantities of political correctness, and moral and cultural relativism, without displaying the obvious signs of the drunken leniency toward, and even taking pleasure in, the slow ascendancy of illiberal values. Such illiberal values include those who would force critical race theory on our governments, media, and schools and also Islamist values of terrorism, breach of human rights, and attempted reversals of the wonderful liberties and advances made in western societies, where church and state have been successfully separated, and an enormous degree of freedom reigns.

In my view, this tolerism is now an ideology. Ideology in its most powerful form is hidden from the view of the person who submits to it. Once it can be clearly perceived it effectively loses its power of social control; obversely, to believe oneself to be non-ideological is actually equivalent to being driven primarily by ideology.

No matter which orthodoxy we may live under, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek explains, we usually enjoy our ideology, and that is part of its function. Paradoxically, it hurts to step outside of it and examine it critically; by default we tend to resist seeing the world from any angle other than the one fed to us.

I would argue that we are being fed now an ideology of excessive tolerance of criminal Blacks, their apologists, and the enforcers of Critical Race Theory, holding that every Black is oppressed and every White is the oppressor and that equality of opportunity is no longer the main goal of civil rights activists – the goal is “equity” so that power must be taken from Whites and given to Blacks in all of our institutions because they are infected supposedly with something called “systemic racism”.

Liberal philosopher John Rawls also wrote about tolerance. Rawls devoted a section of his influential book A Theory of Justice to this problem: whether a just society should or should not tolerate the intolerant. He also addressed the related issue of whether or not the intolerant have any right to complain when they are not tolerated, within their society.

Rawls concluded that a just society must be tolerant; therefore, the intolerant must be tolerated, for otherwise, the society would then itself be intolerant, and thus unjust. However, Rawls qualified this conclusion by insisting, like Popper, that society and its social institutions have a reasonable right of self-preservation that supersedes the principle of tolerance. Hence, the intolerant must be tolerated but only insofar as they do not endanger the tolerant society and its institutions.

Indeed, Popper himself wrote in 1981’s “Toleration and Intellectual Responsibility” that we should tolerate intolerant minorities who wish to simply publish their theories as rational proposals, and that we should simply bring to their attention that tolerance is based on mutuality and reciprocity, and that our duty to tolerate a minority ends when they resort to violence.

More difficult, says Popper, is when an intolerant minority passes from rational thought to violence – for example, what of incitement to violence or conspiracy to overthrow liberal democratic institutions? Popper says that the difficulty in finding the dividing line between criminal and non-criminal acts or words should not pose more of a problem here than in other areas of the law, where illegality is a matter of degree and jurisprudence.

Popper warns of the difference between a political party pledged to uphold all the institutions and laws of liberal democracy even if it obtains a majority which would allow it to do otherwise, and a party that conspires, either openly or in secret, to abolish liberal democracy. Such a party will necessarily resort to violence, and to Popper it is clear that we must not submit to such illiberal acts, even if that party has obtained a majority.

To Popper, then, it is clear that should such a party claim a right to be tolerated, the theory of liberal democracy should say no. Popper states:

We must not tolerate even the threat of intolerance; and we must not tolerate it if the threat is getting serious.”

Accordingly, this is precisely the problem that confronts America and nowhere was it made clearer than the BLM (Black Lives Matter) riots in major American cities last summer, touched off by the murder of a life-long Black criminal named George Floyd.

American Whites and Asians are told that they must tolerate, even submit to, the worst in our society because supposedly Americans deserve this violence. But Middle America is getting fed up. As an example, a reader from Texas commented on an article in Frontpage Magazine entitled “Black Supremacy: The hate that dare not speak its name” by David Horowitz and John Perazzo. The Texan wrote in as follows:

“Every day it seems I hear about a new atrocity committed by an angry violent black person who is convinced they have the right to do so because of racism against THEM. Whether its murdering Jews in Brooklyn, stomping on an elderly Asian man’s head in Manhattan, beating up an Asian woman in front of a crowd of black onlookers who do NOTHING to stop it or even help the woman, burning down stores and small businesses, looting entire neighborhoods, setting fire to police stations, beating and robbing white people and calling it “polar bear hunting”, shooting little children at fast food restaurants, stabbing their neighbors, robbing their hosts after staying the night..threatening police officers with murder for saving a young black woman’s life, ….I could go on and on. And all of it is excused, condoned and encouraged by their families, religious leaders and black politicians at even the highest levels. When does it end? Never. Eventually all their accusations of racism will become a self-fulfilled prophesy.”

My view of these comments by a frustrated Middle American is that it is not just Black politicians (like Maxine Waters) and Black religious leaders (like Louis Farrakhan) who condone and tolerate this. In fact, this is all tolerated by American elites of any colour, including thought leaders in the universities, public schools, media and government.

Mainstream Americans did not just tolerate George Floyd, but sanctified his name. Floyd was a career criminal in and out of jail his whole adult life, a drug addict and dealer, who assaulted a pregnant women as part of a home invasion and who had fathered about 5 children with different women without supporting them financially or with his presence. In traditional Judeo-Christian ethics we would call such a man wicked but the corrupted media turned him into some kind of hero. Granted that the police officer was wrong to kill Floyd, but Floyd was so drugged up that a medical witness confirmed that he had enough drugs in his system, including the deadly fentanyl, to kill him anyway.

Cases where white officers rarely shoot black criminals overwhelmingly happen where the Black criminal is resisting arrest, pointing a knife or gun at the officer or at a third party and therefore allegations that the system is racist, need a reasoned and careful study of the facts and police policies before activists turn to violent protests. Unfortunately we have BLM on the side of supposed victims of Whites but with nothing to say about Black victims of Blacks which is a lot more common.

BLM activists took part in violent demonstrations where police stations were burned and many businesses were destroyed with inventory looted, as police stood back perhaps afraid to be seen as anti-Black.   Few were arrested, and those that were, were back on the street quickly after sympathizers posted cash bail.

In America, nearly 75% of Black families are headed by a female only, the Black father, like George Floyd, takes on no responsibilities of fatherhood. When Black educational performance is so poor, and Black crime rates are so high, it just might be appropriate to discuss how Black communities could take some responsibility for their situations; however, such discussions are prevented by political correctness and cancel culture.

BLM is a loosely run organization with little or no transparency or information about how it spends its money. It was apparently founded by three Black women, one of whom now owns four nice properties, the latest acquisition being a $1.4 million mansion.

NBC News has reported that large iconic American brands have committed major funds to Black organizations seeking “racial justice” and to #BlackLivesMatter movement in response to the death of George Floyd — but many companies have yet to clarify where the money will go and how much they will donate.

One would hope that recipients of the funds should be people who have renounced violence and hate speech whether that is against Whites or Asians or Jews, etc.

This will be something to watch for and it is a test of how far American tolerism may be going in its tolerance of violence and/or anarchy. We shall also need to watch for signs of “intersectionality” where victims groups ally with each other whether it is appropriate or not. For example, should tolerance be extended to groups allied with the violent domestic terrorist group Antifa? Should tolerance be extended to groups allied with or infiltrated by radical violent Islamists.?

If media, schools and universities and government refuse to take a stand against tolerating BLM violence and crime as advocated by the great philosophers quoted in this essay, then Tolerism, the excessive leniency shown to evil, will destroy America and its founding ethos.


Howard Rotberg is a retired lawyer and author of four books on ideologies, political culture and values. He writes for New English Review, Israel National News, Frontpage Magazine and others. His most recent book is The Ideological Path to Submission … and what we can do about it. He founded Canada’s sole conservative values and pro-Israel publishing house, Mantua Books –