Julie Doll: Intolerance on both sides makes us all dumber
There’s a reason the phrase “politically correct” has become a scornful slam.
It’s the same reason there’s a ruckus over Wichita State University’s decision to withdraw its invitation to Ivanka Trump. And it’s the same reason the New York Times editorial page editor was forced to resign.
Let’s start with the WSU brouhaha.
Certainly, Ivanka Trump is a poor choice for commencement speaker at any public school. The WSU Tech official who made the decision to invite her put politics ahead of the interests of her school. Choosing a graduation speaker who is a highly divisive political figure, and whose status is due entirely to nepotism, is — to be kinder than is warranted — not very bright.
But withdrawing an invitation once it’s made is rude and possibly unconstitutional.
If you are among those who argue that rudeness is justified in the WSU case, you are part of the problem.
And if you are among those who think the opposite, and you want someone fired for snubbing a Trump, you too are part of the problem.
The problem is this: Too many Americans are hell-bent on berating and bashing anyone who disagrees with them.
The tendency to demean and demonize political opponents is epidemic on the left and right.
Intolerance drives both sides. It’s reflected in those who cannot abide an athlete taking a knee during the national anthem and in those who are outraged that the president’s daughter was invited to deliver a graduation speech.
This intolerance makes us all dumber.
Large segments of Americans now refuse to learn anything that they don’t already believe. They refuse to expose themselves to opposing opinions and often demand those who disagree with them be fired, jailed or silenced.
To justify such demands, they claim their opponents are racists, communists, antifa, socialists, traitors or whatever.
So when the New York Times printed Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s opinion piece, in which Cotton made an illogical and unprincipled call to militarily attack American citizens, liberals didn’t just dispute his arguments. They attacked Cotton personally, and then attacked the Times for publishing the piece, and then successfully forced the resignation of editorial page editor James Bennet.
About the same time as the flaps at WSU and the New York Times, the Associated Press found itself apologizing as well.
In its daily feature called “Today in History” for June 3, the AP included a quote from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was born June 3, 1808.
The AP feature, which is used by many newspapers and news outlets, summarizes events and people historically connected to the day. AP’s offense was using this quote from Davis: “Never be haughty to the humble; never be humble to the haughty.”
Some AP members complained. Then, the AP apologized for the item, with a number of AP editors using words such as embarrassed, mortified and appalled.
While I agree that the United States has wrongly considered Confederate leaders honorable historical characters for way too long, the reaction of editors at newspapers and the AP seems overwrought.
Not every misstep needs to become a national news story. Not every disagreement has to be turned into an ultimatum. Not every mistake requires the destruction of people’s careers or reputations.
Often, a bit of tolerance, a measure of civility and an invitation for more dialogue would serve all our interests better.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.