Intolerance Knows No Partisan Boundaries
by Lisa Stiller
As a CL board member who has been working to promote CL representation at conferences and festivals—and the vast majority of the time loving it!—I have sometimes been amazed and discouraged at the amount of intolerance found on both the Left and Right.
In the spring of 2015, I applied to have CL represented in the Activist Area (social justice groups) at the Clearwater Festival, held each year about 30 miles north of New York City. In May I received a phone call from one of their staff letting me know that our application had been rejected. The reason: We are faith-based, and they do not accept faith-based organizations.
I told them we are secular, but the response was that our Web site indicated that most of our member groups were faith-based, despite the fact that our home page clearly indicates we are not tied to any faith. So I asked why the Fellowship of Reconciliation is always present at their festival, noting that their Web site clearly points to their faith roots. Simple answer: No, they are not faith-based! Even if that were true, I also noticed at the festival this year that the Unitarians and a faith-based retreat center were given tables.
I was also told that Clearwater selects organizations that are in line with their “values.” “We are a pro-peace organization,” I responded. I did not get much of a response to that. Clearly, our opposition to abortion was the issue, but my disappointment was that they could not, or would not, say this!
This is not the first time this has happened. Our applications to have a table and program ads at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom 100th-anniversay conference in the Hague was turned down. Although the conference organizers didn’t state the reason for the rejection, we point out that the organization has spoken against restrictions on abortion, calling it a sexual and reproductive rights. However, two of our board members attended the meeting to leaflet and advocate on behalf of the CL message. We will not be deterred.
We have been turned down multiple times for workshops at other traditionally progressive events as well, but we are usually at least “allowed” a table at such events. We take advantage of these opportunities to engage attendees in conversation, get sign-ups for our newsletter, and recruit people who would like to help us organize at the local level.
The past few years have surprisingly taught me that the Right has no monopoly on intolerance. Any pro-choice Lefty who tries to tell you they are open minded while cursing you out for your support for unborn lives needs a gentle challenge.
And every so-called tolerant social justice organization that does not tolerate and does not want to at least open up the floor to a presentation that presents a view that holds all life sacred may deserve to have their claim to support social justice challenged.
See the list of all our blog posts, put in categories.
For more of our blog posts on Actions and Adventures, see: