Rise of Intolerance: Are we moving backwards?


In recent years we have seen a sudden and continuous rise of hate politics around the world, especially in liberal democracies. In today’s domestic as well as international politics we have seen a rise in the trajectory of political intolerance, religious conservativism, hate speech, discrimination, and hate crimes. While some scholars link the rise of such pressing social and political issues to the changing economical and political structure of the world others see it as merely a repetition of our past.

Intolerance can be definedas“a lack of respect for practices or beliefs other than one’s own”. The contemporary wave of Political intolerance and hate politics is not a new phenomenon. The politics of the 20th century was also dominated by the same phenomenon of hatred, political intolerance, and populist movement. Religious hatred in the form of anti-Semitism in the 1930s ruthlessly led to the killings of millions of Jews people. Political intolerance in the form of fascism in Nazism led to catastrophic wars and political crises. The rise of populist movements in the second half of the 20th century caused a great divide among the partisans in America.

In his paper, the political economy of hatred, Edward L. Glaeser, has nicely linked the supply of hatred rhetoric by politicians for political gains. He believes that “Hatred is fostered with stories of an out-group’s crimes. Hate-creating stories are supplied by politicians when such actions help to discredit opponents whose policies benefit an out-group. Hatred relies on people accepting, rather than investigating, hate-creating stories”.

The populist leaders like Donald Trump in America, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, and Narendra Modi in India are the leading figures of hatred and intolerant politics. These leaders as noted by Glaeser are supplying the stories of hatred against religious minorities, immigrants, foreign cultures to their supporters for political gains. The political views of these leaders have caused a divide in their respective countries based on discrimination and intolerance towards minority groups and outsiders. The populist leaders have also divided the societies on the basis of “Us Vs Them”.

The rise of hate politics and religious intolerance hasput minorities in a vulnerable and dangerous position. Muslims in Europe are facing hate crimes and hate speech while Islamophobia is growing in most parts of Europe and America. The current wave of hate politics and intolerance have also raised the trajectory of hate crimes against immigrants and foreign settlers in countries like Hungary, Poland, France, and Turkey. America under Donald Trump evolved as an epicentre of hate crimes against minorities. President Trump has advocated hate against Mexicans, Black people, and Asians.

People have become more intolerant towards other’s religions. In India, the populist regime of Narendra Modi has fuelled religious hatred against Muslim and Sikh minorities. During the Modi’ regime, India has seen a sudden rise in the hate crimes incident and mob lynching of Muslims. Similarly, the populist regime of President Erdogan in Turkey is promoting religious intolerance and hatred against western countries. President Donald Trump also used religious slogans for political gains. Donald Trump clearly showed his hatred for Muslims in his public speeches and put a travel ban on Muslims during his presidency.

The rise of Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have also emerged as an epicentre of intolerance, hate speech, racism, and disinformation.Social media has provided an unchecked platform for users to spread hate and violence against those who differ from them.  Social media platforms often serveas a battlefield between people with different opinions and ideologies.

Although hate politics, Intolerance, and populist politics is not a new phenomenon but the emergence of such political culture in the era of multi-cultural and heterogenous societies can put minorities in the most vulnerable situation. In the modern era where societies are connected more than ever, we must promote harmony and coexistence instead of hate and intolerance. Politicians must preach politics of collective interest rather than individual or single group interest. It is about time that we learn from our past mistakes and stop the resurgence of the disastrous intolerant and hate politics.

Abdul Rehman
Abdul Rehman
Postgraduate student of International Relations at the Corvinus University of Budapest.


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