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Where's all the Tolerance?

June 21, 2011 J

Liberals are tolerant, inclusive, open-minded and diverse — or so they’ll tell you whenever they get the chance. Yet an item in today’s Wall Street Journal may raise doubts about that.

It seems that organizers of next year’s gathering of Netroots Nation, slated to take place in Providence, R.I., don’t want to share the same space and air with the more right-minded attendees of RightOnline 2012, though the two conferences have operated side-by-side since 2008 without bloodshed or cross-breeding. The Journal indicates that blogger Andrew Breitbart’s attempt to pay a visit to this year’s NRN, video cameras in tow, apparently was viewed as too provocative by some sensitive souls on the left. Others apparently felt intimidated just sharing the same elevators with such dangerous right-wingers.

“The folks at RightOnline are free to hold differing political views,” one NRN spokesman told the WSJ, but “they are not free to harass our people and create a poor social experience at our hotels.”

I saw no signs that the Right and Left couldn’t peacefully coexist at the conference — and I spent a lot of time in the hotel’s public spaces, including in the lobby area, where I served as a greeter. I actually had a few friendly conversations with NRN participants — at least with those who didn’t avert their eyes, or try to keep a safe distance, when we chanced upon eachother. I saw no signs of conflict or tension, and certainly no “harassment.” But perhaps the mere presence of folks with a different outlook and ideology is intimidating to certain liberals.

So much for inclusiveness, tolerance and open-mindedness.

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