At the start of the last week of 2016 it is fitting to look back at a year that caused many political upheavals not just with Brexit and Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign, but with the rise in open intolerance and even hatred towards opponents in a number of countries. In the Brexit campaign, the hatred was such that Labour politician Jo Cox was assassinated for her support of the NO vote to the plebiscite. Unfortunately, this intolerance also became even more frightening because it was often based not just on differences of political #Policy, but all too often on race or religion.

From Birther to Alt-right

Carl Paladino’s recent racist rant against Michelle Obama was the culmination of over eight years of anger at President Barak Obama beginning with the Birther movement which was more based on the color of his skin than any specific aspect of his political policies.

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The increasing intolerance was apparent during the presidential campaign with open hostility during campaign rallies and worsened by Hillary Clinton’s unwise comments about the “deplorables” in one of her speeches.

Intolerance towards foreigners was the motivation for the opposition during the Brexit campaign and also became a part of this year's Australian Federal election campaign with the return of Pauline Hansen’s One Nation Party which campaigned on an openly anti-Moslem platform. In fact, elements of the ruling Liberal Party in Australia aligned with the American Alt-right are now considering forming a Conservative party which would cause upheaval in the country’s political system. Such sentiments are also evident in France with increasing support for Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale and in the anti-migrant rhetoric of Italy’s Lega Nord.

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Christian Taliban

The paradox of this increasing intolerance is that it is often, at least vocally, in response to the threats of Islamic fanaticism. Yet the rise of intolerance risks forming groups of Christian Taliban which respond violently to any ideology which they see as endangering political agendas based more on biased interpretations of the Bible, or on personal interests rather than on any specific political ideology. The assassination of Jo Fox in England in June showed how this can inspire violent acts.

Worse still, Donald Trump’s successful race for the White House was not backed on any true political agenda, but by appealing directly to the intolerance of vocal minorities who blame migrants for their financial problems. Carl Paladino’s shameful attack on the First Lady of the United States simply took this prejudice to a new level.

Intolerance means lack of respect

The danger of intolerance is the decrease in respect for any form of opposition. This makes it even simpler to propose laws, or to eliminate existing laws that are seen to favor specific minorities, religious or ethnic.

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The intolerance feeds on itself and this lack of respect for the opposition means that civil and political debate is weakened within a society.

Naturally, this intolerance and loss of respect for other views, means that opponents are subject to scorn and often even more open threats to their rights as defined within the Constitution. The simple fact that the incoming President even considers proposing regulation in conflict with the country’s Magna Charta risks that this intolerance could also extend to the institutional protections contained in the checks and balances that protect the country’s Democracy.

Only time will tell how much of Trump's rhetoric was simple vote grabbing and how much was truly based on political agendas advancing the intolerant components that backed Trump’s campaign, including and not limited to the Ku Klux Klan.

The country is truly at the cusp of a new era with the onset of a new type of political leader, now tolerance must be extended to him to allow us to truly judge what this new era will mean for the U.S. and therefore the world. #Donald Trump #Politics