But I’m almost ready to join Ross Douthat in calling progressives “liars” when it comes to the contemporary practice of tolerance—the kind on display in Mozilla’s public statement about former CEO Brendan Eich’s resignation, or in Brandeis University’s statement on Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Even given my belief in total depravity, I’d still rather see tolerant-of-everything-but-intolerance progressives as self-deceived. But when academic acknowledgments of the fact of universal tribalism are repeatedly followed by self-exemptions, it’s hard to believe that no liberal elites ever realize they’re speaking out of both sides of their mouths.
I am (or try to be) a partisan of pluralism, which requires respecting Mozilla’s right to have a C.E.O. whose politics fit the climate of Silicon Valley, and Brandeis’s right to rescind degrees as it sees fit, and Harvard’s freedom to be essentially a two-worldview community, with a campus shared uneasily by progressives and corporate neoliberals, and a small corner reserved for token reactionary cranks.
But this respect is difficult to maintain when these institutions will not admit that this is what is going on. Instead, we have the pretense of universality — the insistence that the post-Eich Mozilla is open to all ideas, the invocations of the “spirit of free expression” from a school that’s kicking a controversial speaker off the stage.
And with the pretense, increasingly, comes a dismissive attitude toward those institutions—mostly religious—that do acknowledge their own dogmas and commitments, and ask for the freedom to embody them and live them out.
It would be a far, far better thing if Harvard and Brandeis and Mozilla would simply say, explicitly, that they are as ideologically progressive as Notre Dame is Catholic or B. Y.U. is Mormon or Chick-fil-A is evangelical, and that they intend to run their institution according to those lights.
I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.
I’m not sure I’m a partisan of pluralism (though my current thinking is that if Christ’s kingdom doesn’t advance with the sword, pluralism is what you’re left with), but you’ve just got to read Douthat’s whole piece.