Psychological Phenomena

Robert Weissberg's study of tolerance will not bring him academic good will, and the drab appearance of this volume will not attract a sufficient number of potentially favorable readers to make its author justly famous. So much the worse! The book is written with flair, even occasional humor, and offers riveting arguments regarding the changing definitions of tolerance and the social consequences thereof.

Having critically surveyed the professional literature on "tolerance" written since mid-century, Weissberg concludes that the term has undergone a dramatic but widely accepted shift in meaning. Whereas tolerance was once a privilege extended by majority religions or dominant political as well as ethnic groups toward partly dissimilar minorities, it has now become a human right that white Westerners—male Christian ones, in particular—must accord to others. And it is not a courtesy to be extended grudgingly or performed as an act of noblesse oblige. Rather, tolerance has come to mean making those who are defiantly and self-consciously different feel good about themselves, while blaming oneself for their previous lack of self-esteem. Thus, where gays and leftist revolutionaries are concerned, Weissberg notes, "political resistance" to their positions has now been equated with "intolerance." Quoting from the publications of the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here