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Intolerance is something underserving of toleration

The fundamentals of any democracy is proper representation of all voices within the society. 

A democratic society must have tolerance in order to respect these voices and give them space to participate. To take this to mean that there must be absolute tolerance of all positions, however, would be a misunderstanding of what “proper representation” really means. 

“Proper representation” means that the needs and attitudes of all voices are respected and listened to, so long as these needs and attitudes are not in direct contradiction to any other voice. In this way, a truly democratic society cannot be “tolerant” to messages and voices that are explicitly “intolerant” of the rights of any other individual or group. 

Even if these intolerant voices have yet to cause direct physical harm, the presence of these attitudes pose a direct risk to democracy — and this must not be accepted. To create a more democratic society, we the people are tasked with rejecting, in all forms, attitudes which perpetuate intolerance. 

If we fail in this task, these intolerant forces will break apart our democracy. 

In our country, there is a long history of incomplete democracy. 

Since the founding of the country, thousands of voices were barred from the democratic process by measures such as race, class, and gender. The long and difficult struggle of these marginalized groups have, with tremendous resistance and widespread disapproval from the society at the time, fought to gain rights we believe are promised in the constitution. 

Unfortunately, progress is not always linear; reactionary forces have responded to the expansion in democracy by speaking out in resistance to an imagined enemy brought about by this expansion in democracy. Organized and motivated reactionary groups become more than just a risk to democracy, but an outright threat in the form of Fascism. 

Fascism is more than a historical movement of the past, but a present power that is growing thanks to encouragement from politicians, political pundits, and even the social media platforms we depend on for communication.

Fascism builds influence by hijacking real social ills that plague everyone such as pandemics, economic recessions, and geopolitical decline. In turn, it diverts the attention of the victims away from potential solutions and towards the most marginalized of our society. 

In Cookeville, Tennessee, fascist rhetoric has spread like a poison through our community and appeared explicitly on Sunday, Jan. 22, in the form of a protest against a drag brunch hosted at Hix Farm Brewery. 

As journalists of the Oracle, it is our job not only to report the truth, but also we believe it is our obligation to respond to forces in our society that threaten democracy. As the Oracle Creed states: “The supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.” 

The Oracle vehemently condemns the actions of the Patriot Front, Proud Boys and Nazi-affiliated groups which have appeared in our community. These groups cannot be tolerated by our society and as a people we must do all we can to stamp out this movement as soon as it sprouts from the fertile ground of this nation. 

“Nothing is more important than stopping Fascism, because Fascism will stop us all,”

-Fred Hampton