Welcome to the second post for our ongoing week long campaign #BloggersAgainstFascism! Click here to find out what all the fuss is about and join the Twitter discussion here. I am totally overwhelmed by the responses I’ve had from our bloggers! They are so politically informed, open minded and write beautifully and if I haven’t said it before then I am totally honoured to have these wonderful ladies featuring on Libfemblog.com!
In this post the question I posed to the bloggers was this;
WHAT CAUSES INTOLERANCE?
If you want to find out what they thought, read on!
I’d say that it’s a variety of things, but largely I tend to put it down to the society and structure in which you were raised; and a lack of willingness to educate yourself or open yourself up to change or other ways of living.
Here in the UK, I live in a culture in which we’re subconsciously fed certain ideas from birth and, whether we realise it or not, absorb this and end up unknowingly upholding the status quo.
Racially motivated intolerance in particular is a hot topic at the moment due to the increase in hostility towards ethnic minorities and migrants following the EU Referendum result, and in many cases I believe it can come down to people simply being misled or even manipulated. ‘Whiteness’ remains one of the dominant images of British culture; we all grew up seeing white people on television, white people in magazines, white people in power. We’ve been surrounded by nationalistic ideals about what it means to be British our whole lives, only to then bombarded by messages from the media about migrants, refugees and ‘problems’ caused by so-called foreigners. It would be easy for the more blissfully ignorant among us to believe the poison that they’re reading in newspapers and, coupled with the only idea of what it means to be ‘British’ that they’ve ever known, grow hostile towards this group of people that they have been led to be believe are challenging this.
I don’t entirely blame them for it; much of the media surrounding the referendum and migrant crisis were toxic and deliberately preying on fear and citizens’ love of some of our institutions and rights. What I don’t sympathise with however, and what I believe to be the main cause of intolerance, is wilful ignorance, wherein you have others’ explaining to you in polite or simple terms why you are wrong, and/or you have the means to access information to educate yourself, and you make a choice to remain intolerant.
Generally speaking – even if people are perhaps ignorant or being misled by the media – you have the power to learn. Most people today have access to the internet, to libraries, or live in communities with people of minority groups. They could Google statistics of what EU migrants really contribute to our society, but they don’t. They could listen to the people in their family presenting them with facts, with realities, and try to consider that there is perhaps another way of thinking, but they don’t. True intolerance and hate is bred when people completely close themselves off to different points of view and accept theirs alone as fact, when they have the opportunity to learn or to grow, but categorically refuse. Simply being stubborn or finding it a struggle to unlearn problematic ideas are one thing, but refusing to allow any challenges to your own world view even when it’s all laid out in front of you for you to consider is something else, and is far more insidious that simple ignorance alone.
If you like what Steph wrote, check out her links & leave a comment for her below!
For me, I believe that it is caused mostly by personality traits and background. Many people’s behaviours are passed down through family and friends and these opinions are formed based on what other people have told them.
A lot of intolerant people that I have come across tend to be narrow-minded. I think especially nowadays, many people are very set in their ways and sometimes not very understanding towards those who do not hold the same beliefs and opinions. Why should one person believe that their opinions matter more than others whose opinions differ? The ability to be able to see things from another person’s view is tolerance.
Tolerance is not necessarily about agreeing with an opinion someone holds but rather accepting that views change from person to person.
Diversity is definitely something we should celebrate as every person is different. We are lucky (in the UK) to live in such a multicultural society that tolerance should be second nature to citizens. Intolerance gives way to a segregated society which isn’t exactly moving towards a forward-thinking nation.
Tolerance goes hand in hand with equality. The more tolerant society is about another person, the more equality will be achieved. This should be promoted from a young age so that when you are older, you are able to see other people’s point of view a lot more easily.
Intolerance leads to hatred and in some circumstances extremism which currently is rife across the world. If people could just be more understanding and listen to others when they have a differing view, intolerance could be eradicated. However, it’s not exactly a new issue and many people have lived their lives in a certain way so far and probably wouldn’t want to compromise. This disappoints me as I think that we can learn tonnes from each other as a society.
If you like what Sian wrote, check out her links & leave a comment for her below!
There are a lot of reasons why people are intolerant of people of a different ethnic background or race to them. Most of this stems from ignorance. For example, many British citizens (not all by far may I add) are intolerable to accepting cultural diversity because they believe that migrants are the reason they can’t get a job. They strongly believe that because we allow people of ethnic minorities into our country, they take all the jobs and money, leaving us with nothing. When in actual fact, if these ignorant peoeople re-evaluated the situation they would actually realise that these migrants are doing the jobs, you’re too lazy to get off your ass to go and do because you think you have a right to be earning no less than £17,000 a year because that’s how much you get on benefits by doing bloody nothing all day! Turn off the Jeremy kyle, put down the Aldi ready cooked meal and get out there and find a job. Sorry, I went off on a bit of a rant there, I’m passionate about this kind of thing!
However, I also believe it would be ‘ignorant’ to believe that it’s just ignorance that causes intolerance. It’s a bit like asking, what causes racism really? Some people have bad experiences with someone of a particular race or religion and therefore assume that everyone who belongs to that race or religion is going to be the same. They become intolerable to accepting and appreciating everyone for their individuality. We are all very different no matter what groups we choose to identify with. Moreover, a lack of education causes intolerance. Thankfully, kids today are growing up in a more understanding and culturally aware society that appreciates everyone. This does not mean that racism and Islamophobia are still not a thing, of course, they are. There are people living in Britain today that didn’t grow up with the same multicultural attitudes and views that we do today, this contributes to intolerance. It can take a lot to change people’s minds and opinions on topics, which have been instilled into them from a very young age, but education is incredibly important if we ever want to make any changes to the way people think.
A lack of education is also primarily responsible for another cause of intolerance; fear! Because some people of a certain class or age don’t know how to react to Britain becoming a more diverse and culturally accepting society, they panic. They fear these people because they take the media’s biased and unrealistic portrayal of certain ethnicities and religions and they base all their beliefs and actions on this propaganda. Unfortunately, there are always going to be ignorant people but I strongly believe that fear and a lack of education can be changed through utilisation of effective and strategical methods of combating fascism.
If you like what Nicole wrote, check out her links & leave a comment for her below!
I don’t think it’s as easy as saying any one thing causes intolerance. It’s more of case of circumstance; many things coming together and resulting in intolerance as a defence mechanism or to shift blame. Education, or more importantly; a lack of education, though, is one thing I believe contributes to a general atmosphere of intolerance.
We need to give people a better understanding of other cultures and experiences – something I’ve always been proud of, up until recently, as a UK citizen. Growing up in a multicultural country benefits us all; and many people don’t recognise those benefits because they are now such an intrinsic part of our culture. We need a system that continues to celebrate new traditions and ways of life, so that young people continue to grow up with open minds and open hearts.
As we saw during the EU Referendum, facts and figures are not always enough to sway the majority and even when given the correct information, intolerance persists. This is where circumstances begin to bind together in order to create atmospheres of intolerance, such as that which we are now experiencing, and xenophobia. We’re closing our ranks, if you will, but in doing so we’re also pitting ourselves against non-British culture and the many, many fabulous individuals who exist outside of it. Basically, we’re tarring them all with the brush of the ‘other’ and until people understand how othering works, this problem will continue to persist. Again, we need to educate the masses and arm them to see through the veil of politics into the truth.
In the case of the U.K. we’ve only very recently recovered from a serious economic dip, we’ve seen riots on the streets of London and had to bail out the banks with our own hard earned taxes. Our country was feeling pretty low, and it was all too easy for politicians such as Nigel Farage to take those feelings of anger and despair and point them, not towards the 1% who caused many of them, but towards a vulnerable bunch of people already on the fringes of society. To point them away from British politicians and towards The Other – using a lack of real information on immigration they stoked the fires of intolerance first stirred by ignorance.
Xenophobia then, is a dish prepared by circumstance and seasoned by Nigel Farage. By pointing out our differences instead of our similarities and highlighting the problems immigration can cause, in lieu of the benefits, Nigel Farage has successfully othered the entire continent of Europe, the entire membership of The EU and, by default, the rest of the world. And without proper education, we cannot necessarily blame the majority of our population for believing in and agreeing with one of our most relatable politicians. After all, politicians are supposed to understand these things better than us, they are supposed to guide us down the right path for the right reasons and they are supposed to protect the interests of the people. When they no longer carry out these functions therefore, it is time for the people to take back their politics, engage with their democracy and educate themselves and others in any way that they can.
If you like what Hannah wrote, check out her links & leave a comment for her below!
I believe intolerance is mainly linked to the fact that some people focus on the differences they see between themselves and others, instead of looking for similarities and common ground.
This is especially dangerous as it accentuates the divisions between groups of individuals (be they ethnic, religious, age, class etc. communities of sort) instead of bringing them together and go beyond the differences.
It’s a fact that’s always surprised me and that I’ve always struggled to understand because someone doing things differently shouldn’t be an opportunity to bring him/her down, instead we should see it as a chance to re-consider how we see the world.
If you like what Sandra wrote, check out her links & leave a comment for her below!
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