Hypocrisy U: The Illusion Of Millennial Tolerance 

Hypocrisy U: The Illusion Of Millennial Tolerance

By: Josiah Robinson

A professor of mine recently asked my class how we, millennials, define our generation. The professor brought up the stereotypes of millennials and wondered how true those rang for us. Our elders lampoon us as lazy, promiscuous, narcissistic, and the worst generation. What do we think?

There were many great answers to the professor’s question, but one trait was agreed upon by all, tolerance. There was a nod from almost everyone in the room. A non-verbal amen, if you wish. That’s a great accomplishment to tack onto our reputation. Good on us!

We are the most tolerant generation yet, aren’t we? Millennials don’t form lynch mobs or throw racial slurs in public. We don’t ostracize homosexuals or call HIV/AIDS the “gay cancer”. We don’t call housework “woman’s work” any more. Millennials don’t “Jew” people down to a lower price. We accept everyone for who they are, right?

This is true; we have made massive strides in those areas and many more. Our corners of the world are more diverse and colorful than they have ever been. We celebrate diversity and espouse tolerance as core values in our universities.

However, we are very particular about our tolerance.

We gladly accept any idea that can have a human face put to it. We’ll share any touching BuzzFeed story and take to Facebook to cast stones from our soapbox at any old, ignorant person that disagrees with us.

We’re very tolerant of change and progress, but not of those that won’t change and progress with us. We fail to legitimize the beliefs of people that who disagree, writing them off as simply discriminatory. Afterall, those ideas clearly cannot be accepted as rational.

We like to preach the idea of accepting everyone, but don’t like to practice it in the real world.

In reality, we only tolerate those that agree with us. 

If you feel differently than we do about the Confederate Flag, climate change, homosexual marriage, Syrian refugees, marijuana legalization, or Donald Trump, then you’re either ignorant, bigoted, or racist.

Once we find fault in your ideas, we then presume a fault with you as a person. Our biases blind us so that we cannot see the validity in any other viewpoint. Many times, we can’t even stand to even hear them voiced.

Millennials love free speech and protests, but only when it’s from a viewpoint we agree with. We condemn the media bias, but only when it’s biased towards to the other side of aisle. We advocate for “common sense” regulations, but only on things that don’t affect us.

This trend suggests that we not only feel strongly about our beliefs, we feel just as strongly (if not more so) about your beliefs. You should hear our opinion and agree with it, too. If you refuse, then there’s obviously something wrong with you.

We plug our ears to any opinion (or its holder) that is contrary to ours. 

Millennials champion ethnic and cultural diversity, but are sorely lacking in intellectual diversity. If a presented opinion doesn’t perfectly align with ours we quarantine it immediately. It’s just too foolish to stand. We censor and actively ignore voices that don’t blend with ours, despite our supposed tolerance.

If we truly want every opinion to matter and every voice to be heard, millennials may have to tolerate actual ignorance, bigotry, and racism. Real hate speech and discrimination will have to be given a voice. Genuinely terrible views may take center stage at times.

Those extremes are what should make us uncomfortable, not mild disagreements or differing perspectives. We have to discern between truly crazy ideas and those we simply disagree with.

Unfortunately, I fear we mistake a difference in opinion for a declaration of war on the utopia we wish to create. Millennials have come a long way, but we still have much to learn, especially about true tolerance.

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