Both Christians and Marxists, being related, like to play fast and loose with the concept “tolerance”. Herbert Marcuse provides the most notable example in this regard: he famously dubbed free speech, in the classical liberal sense, “repressive tolerance”.
The idea is that if you, from your American Legion post, write a strongly-worded letter to the LA Times about the “Mexican invaders” then for that letter to be published constitutes “repressive tolerance” because it creates a “negative atmosphere” for the marginal and oppressed—whereas under “true tolerance”, “progressive tolerance”, nobody would feel marginalised or oppressed by the speech environment.
The idea corresponds to the contemporaneous development “positive rights”—the idea that aside from a right not to be detained without charge, not to have soldiers billeted in your home, not to have your printing press seized by the government you also have “positive rights” to employment, housing, and a minimum wage.
Rather like “repressive tolerance”, a “positive right” constitutes a non-concept—being entirely vague and undefined, so giving scope for unlimited government action. “No state access without a warrant” is unambiguous and circumscribed, whereas “a right to housing” is ambiguous—it could mean anything from the state is obliged to build a certain number of houses every year to the notion that the state should seize property if some people are homeless.
Ambiguous laws are tyrannous—positive rights are tyrannous and the notion of “repressive tolerance” is ambiguous; its natural accessory is “hate speech”—“we cannot tolerate the intolerant”…
What is “tolerance”, anyway? Tolerance refers to when you put up with any non-criminal act that causes you distress. Here’s an example: I often go to the Dark Horse Cafe and I am sometimes joined by an elderly gentleman, of the type that exists around the world, who never washes—you know the sort, eccentric and with a ripe odour constituted from BO and urine-soiled trousers that haven’t been changed for six months at least. The operative word for the old gent is “gamey”.
In other words, he’s the sort you might see hanging round outside a primary school playground—he’s the proverbial dirty old man. For him, life just went wrong at some point—possibly, it was never right. He leaves a rich substratum of dandruff behind him…his skin peels off his face like Parmesan cheese…and I can smell him from the other side of the cafe, his odour is so pungent that it takes on a physical character; it’s like a solid wall of scent, you could cut it with a knife—it’s like an invisible mist, thick like mist should be…from its appearance.
Yet it is not a crime to be smelly. It’s anti-social. It’s gross. It’s stupid—because people will hate you for it. But it’s not a crime—it’s not immoral. The crimes are basically murder, theft, and lying—but to be smelly isn’t included among those, so it’s not immoral or criminal. It’s just nasty.
Now, an intolerant person, usually a woman, might go over to the dirty old man and upbraid him—“Take a shower, you are disgusting”. Well, it wouldn’t do much good—you can’t compel him to take a shower, not like you can compel someone to stop thieving by putting them in prison. You can try to shame him or tick him off, but it isn’t likely to do much good. And, if you do so, you’re an intolerant person—in the genuine sense.
So that’s what it means to be a tolerant person: to put up with things that disgust you but are not illegal or immoral.
Now, if someone rolls into the Dark Horse Cafe and starts to wave a knife around, I don’t have to tolerate it—because it’s criminal, because it’s immoral. It’s a threat to me—a threat of violence, of potential murder.
What men like Marcuse do is make out that the equivalent of being a “smelly man” in free speech terms should not be tolerated—then they call that “true tolerance”. Look, if I write, “Group ‘X’ are filthy and untrustworthy and dirty—I don’t want my children near them, I don’t want them as my neighbour, I don’t want them in my country,” then that might be a “smelly” thing to say, but it’s not a crime. So you should tolerate it—if you really are a tolerant person.
On the other hand, if I say, “Mr. Y, the high priest of Group X, lives at 39 Rose Blossom Avenue and is a depraved child rapist and murderer, assemble outside his house at 4:00 PM next Tuesday and we’ll burn it down and show him what for,” then that should not be tolerated because it’s as if I walked into the Dark Horse Cafe and started waving a knife about.
Only men can be truly tolerant. Neurotic people—women, gays, and Jews—can’t really be tolerant because they feel high negative affect. So they interpret “smelly” writing as if it is an actual threat, as if it’s a knife wielded in a cafe. Hence “repressive tolerance”.
The Christians were the same way. They refused to participate in the public rites that went along with the state cults in antiquity, even though Jesus could have been included with the other gods. Then they were persecuted for their failure to conform and claimed this was “intolerance”—but, really, their refusal to participate, even though they would have been tolerated, masked the fact that they just wanted to be in a position where all other gods would not be tolerated. This was then presented as, “Intolerant pagans hated Christ, now we have ‘real tolerance’—the universal love of Christ, the only God (the God of love—who tolerates no others)”.
The Christians refused to participate in a functional system of tolerance, then claimed they were persecuted by intolerant people—then when they had the upper hand extended zero tolerance to anyone else, not even the conditional tolerance extended by the pagan system.
“Love” here is understood to be when you manipulate people with passive aggressive sulky behaviour until you are in a position to extend zero tolerance to them—even though they extended tolerance to you in the first place. It’s like if a woman sulked next to the dirty old man until he did something—and called him intolerant as she sulked (actually, she’s being intolerant).
It’s the same MO as Marcuse with “repressive tolerance”—there’s genuine tolerance in operation, so jealous people who don’t want to tolerate others have to pretend that it’s “false tolerance” (real tolerance, so it turns out, is when everyone agrees with me and does what I say and what pleases me—fancy!).