The idea of tolerance back then was central. As understood by John Locke (1632-1704) and others, it was a tripartite concept. There were things that one liked, things one abhorred, and in the middle was tolerance—what one could put up with, neither liking it nor finding it unbearable. (…)
Beginning in the 1980s, however, the American left, especially in the schools, fundamentally transformed “tolerance” from a tripartite term to one that was black or white. (…)
With this new definition, you either liked something (tolerance) or disliked it (intolerance), with no middle ground of ambivalence or mixed feeling. Anything short of appreciation became “intolerance” and thereby antithetical to a “tolerant” civil society. This definitional transformation passed virtually unnoticed. For good measure, it was asserted sans any evidence that refusing to accept this binary definition would soon bring conflict, even violence.
( * )