Many of us have been saying the same thing for many decades. That is that the end result of tolerance to it logical conclusion is that eventually you tolerate and appease your own existence, out of existence.
As Winston Churchill put it, “..𝐀𝐧 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐬 𝐚 𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐨𝐝𝐢𝐥𝐞 — 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭..”
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“…The greatest virtue, and challenge, to free societies has always been our freedoms.
We have the freedom to disagree over so many matters, even over where to draw the line when it comes to tolerating the intolerant. Those disagreements are healthy – up to a point. Philosopher Karl Popper called it the paradox of tolerance. In a free society we are meant to tolerate the intolerant. But there is a point when appeasing intolerance becomes a death wish.
As one of freedom’s great virtues, tolerating the intolerant has proven to be one of the most difficult to navigate. Our increasing confusion about tolerance has become an invitation for Muslim clerics such as Haddad to game those freedoms.
We waste so much time demanding the scalp of an old white man who tells a bad joke or a woman who believes only a biological woman is a woman that we have failed to take seriously a Muslim preacher who delivers a “kill Jews” sermon to his followers in suburban Sydney.
In polite society, in our most elite institutions, in universities and bureaucracies, in corporations and other workplaces of influence, there are growing numbers of people who fundamentally have misunderstood the importance of tolerating things those people find deeply offensive.
The growing number of people favouring conformity over intellectual freedom, calling for intervention by employers and even the law, is a sure sign large swaths of our society do not understand the paradox of tolerance.
These illiberal thought controllers have misunderstood that a free society must, as philosopher John Rawls says, “have the confidence to limit the freedom of the intolerant only in the special cases when it is necessary for preserving equal liberty itself”.
While the professionally offended classes are bleating about bad jokes and wrong pronouns, they – and we – seem uninterested in the few special cases where we should draw the line – namely incitement to violence. Haddad’s sermons are one of those cases.
This is our second problem. Too often we do tolerate what we should not – namely threats of, or incitement to, violence. For many, a sermon about killing Jews ranks below someone using the wrong pronoun and other breaches of trans shibboleths.
Many of the same people who carry on about trigger warnings and the need for inclusive language now march in our streets proclaiming that Palestinians “should be free from the river to the sea”.
Alas, we must tolerate the idiocy of this, even though these chants on the streets of Western democracies may embolden Hamas terrorists whose fundamental objective is the destruction of the state of Israel.
But we should not tolerate a Muslim cleric preaching death to Jews from the pulpit of an Islamic centre in southwest Sydney. We have laws that criminalise incitement to violence.
At the moment we have drawn the line in exactly the wrong place – we tolerate incitement to violence but not behaviour that is merely offensive. Recall how people cheered section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act being used against Andrew Bolt for questioning aboriginality. Yet now it’s crickets when it comes to a Muslim preacher whose language, at minimum, winks at the killing of Jews.
Haddad may imagine he is clever enough to game our confusion. He may imagine that quoting from Islamic scripture and parables about killing Jews offers him the haven of religious freedom.
Enough with the games.
Clear, and different, judgments are called for now. Some forms of intolerance cross Popper’s line – they are so dangerous they cannot be tolerated, even or especially in a free society.
It is good news that this week Australian Federal Police referred Haddad’s actions to a counter-terrorism squad for assessment.
Our law enforcement agencies need to set this man, and the rest of the country, straight. If a person calls for Jews to be killed, that person crosses a line into intolerance that we should never tolerate…”