What’s the difference between intolerance of hate and intolerance of Islam? Why is it alright to be against racists but not against black people? Why do we say it’s okay to punch Nazis but not okay to punch trans people?
The answer is simple — dehumanization.
Intolerance of race, religion, gender and sexual identity, neurodivergence, are all on the basis of the “other,” of the “different.” In every case, you are saying that a person with a particular race, religion, or identity shouldn’t have the same rights as you do, the same privileges. You are defining them as “subhuman.” You are categorizing them as separate based solely on what they are.
We won’t tolerate that because that makes you a danger to us, to those we love, or to … well, let’s leave it as “someone who isn’t a threat to you.” Muslims are not a threat to you, nor to anyone. Neither are Mexicans, gay people, autists. They just want to be free to be who they are in a country that defines itself by that exact freedom.
Bigotry seeks to stamp out that freedom. It says that one race, one gender, one religion, one identity, is “right” and the others are “wrong.” Lesser. Inhuman. We will not tolerate that — not coming from white conservatives, not coming from radical Muslims, not coming from “feminists” who think that men should be exterminated. (There aren’t very many of those but I like to work in threes.) We will not let those ideas have a platform. We will stand against them. But even though we stand against those ideas, that is all we are standing against — an idea. If you hold one of those ideas, we will stand against you, but we do not believe you to be less human because of it.
The war of the bigot is a war against people. The war of the tolerant is a war against a very specific category of ideas. We don’t want to wipe you out — we want you to live out your lives in peace, just as we want to do. The only reason we stand against you is because you, by your actions, have made yourself a clear and present danger to us.
We stand against you because we have seen what people who say the things you say end up doing when they have power. We see you celebrating those horrors, those atrocities — lynching and mutiliation and gassing and genocide — and pining to bring them back. Voting for and supporting people who promise to cleanse the world of the other. We stand against you because we want to protect ourselves from the things you are promising to do.
You stand against us because you think you are the only humans, and anyone who is different from you should be wiped out.
That is the difference.