A new study reveals the most intolerant county in America is not Rabun County in northeastern Georgia, where the film “Deliverance” was shot.
“Nor was it Albany County, Wyoming, where Matthew Shepard was killed. And it was not Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, where Emmett Till was lynched more than a half-century ago,” explained a report by the Foundation for Economic Education.
It’s Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and its mostly white population of just under 800,000 that includes the heart of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton region.
“Politically, Suffolk County is about as progressive as America gets. The county’s three congressional districts – the 5th, 7th, and 8th – are represented by progressive Democrats: Rep. Katherine Clark, Rep. Ayanna Soyini Pressley, and Rep. Stephen Lynch. Just 5 percent of county residents identify as Republican. No GOP presidential candidate has claimed Suffolk County since Calvin Coolidge – in 1924,” FEE said.
It cited the survey commissioned by the Atlantic to assess the nation’s tolerance level.
“In this part of the country, nine out of every 10 couples appear to share the same partisan leaning. … Eight out of every 10 neighborhoods are political homogeneous. This means that people in Boston may have fewer ‘cross-cutting relationships,’ as researchers put it. It is a very urban county with a relatively high education level. All these things tend to correlate with partisan prejudice.”
“Most people, The Atlantic notes, discriminate against the political opposition explicitly and implicitly. We do this in whom we hire, date, and marry. We make snap judgments about people’s patriotism, compassion, and intelligence,” FEE said.
Some Americans, the results show, “are more inclined toward this than others.”
“The makeup of Suffolk County fits closely with what researchers identified as America’s most politically intolerant bunch: ‘woke white liberals.’”
The Atlantic said, “In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”
The report continued: “Older progressives are not the only people prone to tribalism or political isolation, of course. In fact, [the study] found that overall, Republicans appear to dislike Democrats more than Democrats dislike Republicans. And other research has found that younger adults are even more politically isolated than older adults.”
FEE said conservatives “might contend that they’re happy to not associate with squishy progressives from Suffolk County preaching social justice, just as many progressives in Suffolk County might say they’re happy to not associate with anyone who wears a MAGA hat, shoots animals, or listens to Rush Limbaugh.”
“People are entitled to associate with whom they choose, of course; but there is a price to this attitude. As Alexander Hamilton once observed, bringing differing opinions into conflict is essential to democratic health and ultimately serves as a check on majoritarianism.”
The Atlantic said: “The irony is that Americans remain in agreement on many actual issues. Eight out of 10 Americans think that political correctness is a problem; the same number say that hate speech is a concern too. Most Americans are worried about the federal budget deficit, believe abortion should be legal in some or all cases, and want stricter gun regulation. Nevertheless, we are more and more convinced that the other side poses a threat to the country. Our stereotypes have outpaced reality, as stereotypes tend to do.”
It continued: “Americans now routinely guess one another’s partisan leanings based on what they eat, drive, and drink (Dunkin’ Donuts? Republican; Starbucks? Democrat), according to a working paper by the University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. candidate Hye-Yon Lee. And based on these unreliable cues, they say they’d be more or less likely to want to live, work, or hang out with one another.
“We are now judging one another’s fundamental decency based on whether we eat at Chipotle or Chick-fil-A. This may seem silly—harmless, even. But it is uncomfortably reminiscent of stories from conflict zones abroad. In Northern Ireland, for example, an outsider visiting during the Troubles had no way to tell unionists and nationalists apart. They were pretty much all white Christians, after all. But the locals themselves routinely guessed one another’s identity based on their names, the spacing of their eyes, their sports jerseys, the color of their hair, their neighborhood, or even how much jewelry they wore. This process came to be known as ‘telling.’ If a reliable cue didn’t exist, people would make one up. It was a way to move about in the world in a time of profound tribalism, during which 3,600 people were killed.”