The inside story of Senator Hinch’s first year in Canberra
The crucial point here is that tolerance of ideological identities must operate in the middle ground between intolerance, on one side, and the mere recognition of ‘difference and diversity’ on the other. Within this middle ground there will be a wide range of responses – some of which will be well-informed and well-judged, and others which will not. Clearly tolerance does not demand that all criticism or disagreement must be well-judged and well-informed. Suffice it to say that within this middle ground there will be much that might be judged both ill-informed and ‘over-the-top’ – but this is not, in itself, evidence of intolerance. There is, for example, a significant difference between a Sunday preacher condemning atheists as ‘Godless, wicked fools’, and a fanatic threatening to murder ‘blasphemers’. The former is a form of (objectionable) ignorance and dogmatism; but the latter is a plain case of intolerance. It is a basic confusion to assume that everyone who expresses objectionable views, in an objectionable manner, is ipso facto intolerant. Tolerance allows people to express objectionable views, even in an objectionable manner, as long as they do not resort to coercive measures that violate the rights of others.
Woodward’s book spawned a number of other studies both challenging and modifying his thesis. Many of these appeared as the South waged massive resistance to combat the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s, suggesting the depth of white racism and the difficulty of overcoming it. In North of Slavery (1961), Leon Litwack found that even before the Civil War free northern Negroes encountered segregation in schools and public accommodations, the kind of discrimination they would face in the South after slavery. Accordingly, segregation had a longer pedigree than Woodward had argued, and it transcended the South and operated nationwide. Joel Williamson’s After Slavery: The Negro in South Carolina during Reconstruction, 1861-1877 (1965) examined race relations in the Palmetto State and found Woodward’s interpretation wanting. Williamson concluded that freed blacks encountered segregation soon after emancipation. He asserted that specific laws were not necessary to keep the races apart because segregation was maintained de facto . He discovered that most white South Carolinians did not accept racial equality and intended to adopt segregation as soon as blacks gained their freedom from slavery.