“The conceit of secularism undergirding the promulgation of tolerance within multicultural liberal democracies not only legitimates their intolerance of and aggression toward nonliberal states or transnational formations but also glosses the ways in which certain cultures and religions are marked in advance as ineligible for tolerance while others are so hegemonic as to not even register as cultures or religions; they are instead labeled ‘mainstream’ or simply ‘American.’ In this way, tolerance discourse in the United States, while posing as both a universal value and an impartial practice, designates certain beliefs and practices as civilized and others as barbaric, both at home and abroad; it operates from a conceit of neutrality that is actually thick with bourgeois Protestant norms. The moral autonomy of the individual at the heart of liberal tolerance discourse is also critical in drawing the line between the tolerable and the intolerable, both domestically and globally, and thereby serves to sneak liberalism into a civilizational discourse that claims to be respectful of all cultures and religions, many of which it would actually undermine by ‘liberalizing,’ and, conversely, to sneak civilizational discourse into liberalism. This is not to say that tolerance in civilizational discourse is reducible to liberalism; in fact, it is strongly shaped by the legacy of the colonial settler-native encounter as well as the postcolonial encounter between white and indigenous, colonized, or expropriated peoples. This strain in the lexicon and ethos of tolerance, while not reducible to a liberal grammar and analytics, is nonetheless mediated by them and also constitutes an element in the constitutive outside of liberalism over the past three centuries. Tolerance is thus a crucial analytic hinge between the constitution of abject domestic subjects and barbarous global ones, between liberalism and the justification of its imperial and colonial adventures.”
- Brown, Wendy. Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2006.