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Tomi Lahren and the “Tolerant Left”

I have sort of been sitting on the topic of Tomi Lahren ever since she rose to popularity (and to an extent, infamy) during the recent election cycle and went on to be interviewed by Trevor Noah toward the end of November. I suppose now’s as good a time as any to dive into this.

tomi-lahrenTo a certain degree, maybe I’m a part of the problem.
After the interview and the election, I seriously wondered what I should allow myself to tolerate. On the one hand,
how dare Trevor Noah give a platform to this woman who was spreading dangerous ideals and had likened the Black Lives Matter movement to the KKK. But on the other hand, I’d read a piece following the election that made an interesting point about intellectual elitism and the “smugness” of liberals.

Admittedly, my friends and I had been in an echo chamber where there was absolutely no way Trump was going to win. I can’t say that I’m not scornful when I think of the people who voted Trump, a vote I had essentially equated as a vote for racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. I still think I was sort of valid in this opinion, if I’m being fully honest. You heard what he called Mexican immigrants and the tapes about women.

So what I struggle with is the idea that my (and other people’s) feeling of intellectual superiority had somehow cost Clinton the election. Had I failed to attempt to understand Trump supporters and engage them in actual conversations about their views? Had my refusal to leverage on my values made me just as intolerant as the people I scorned? Did I have to tolerate views that I felt were inherently hateful?

These sentiments of mine hit a fever pitch right around when the Trevor-Tomi interview came out. Part of me was thinking, hey, good for her for going into a place of people that pretty much despised her ideologies and being willing to defend them. But simultaneously my feeds were flooded with think pieces condemning Noah for even engaging her. I still don’t know where I stand on all of this.

On to the recent Tomi Lahren flare-up. In a way, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Lahren is pro-choice. Maybe she isn’t that bad after all, I thought. I quickly tossed that thought aside upon remembering I disagree with Lahren on pretty much everything else. Again, maybe I’m supposed to respect her anyway. I’ll say this: I respect Tomi Lahren insofar as every human being deserves respect, but I have absolutely no tolerance for her views to the extent that they incite hatred in others.

tomi the viewRegardless, as a social liberal, I can’t say I disagree with her on the point that the government doesn’t deserve a say in what women do with their bodies. I’m not really with her on the small government across the board part, but that’s not really important here. Anyway, I do think there is a certain paradox in conservatives claiming they’re for small government and then arguing to police women’s bodies, just as Lahren stated. However, Glenn Beck seems to disagree with us, and contends that you can advocate for small government while simultaneously fighting to protect the lives of the unborn. I’m not going to get into how I disagree with that statement.

Nonetheless, the irony in all of this is Lahren’s suspension. I’ve really been struggling with the idea that I am somehow intolerant of views different from my own because I see them as inherently hateful, so it did make me smirk when I saw that perhaps conservatives have the same problem in regards to intolerance of certain viewpoints. I thought back to all the comments like “So much for the tolerant left,” and found the whole situation mildly humorous.

The echo chamber is admittedly dangerous. We all know that know that the media is hyper-partisan right now and Congress has never been more divided and incapable of working across the aisle. As important as my views are to me, I think we can all agree that this isn’t a particularly good thing. Part of why I’ve been sitting on this topic for so long is because I really don’t know how to tie this all together. I’m unsure of the answer, and I can’t even remotely begin to propose a solution of some sort. All I can say right now, is that while I will never be willing to compromise on policies that perpetuate hate and intolerance, I think we’ve all gotten a little too stubborn and unwilling to listen to each other. And personally, I’m trying to work on that.

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