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Paradoxes of Liberal DemocracyIslam, Western Europe, and the Danish Cartoon Crisis$

Paul M. Sniderman, Michael Bang Petersen, Rune Slothuus, and Rune Stubager

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161105

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161105.001.0001

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The Concept of Inclusive Tolerance

The Concept of Inclusive Tolerance

Chapter:
(p.117) Chapter 5 The Concept of Inclusive Tolerance
Source:
Paradoxes of Liberal Democracy
Author(s):

Paul M. Sniderman

Michael Bang Petersen

Rune Slothuus

Rune Stubager

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691161105.003.0005

Abstract and Keywords

The inclusion of immigrants in general and Muslim immigrants in particular is straining liberal democracies in western Europe. This chapter re-examines an earlier and more expansive understanding of tolerance. To be tolerant, it is now agreed, means to be willing to put up with others that one dislikes or ideas that one disagrees with. So understood, tolerance is a synonym for toleration. Toleration has become not merely the primary but also the sole meaning of tolerance as a value in democratic politics. The consequence has been to bury an older understanding of tolerance: to “support, nourish, maintain, sustain, preserve.” The chapter calls attention to this older understanding of tolerance because it points the way to recognizing what contemporary measures of tolerance actually are capturing. It argues that in addition to identifying those with ill will toward immigrants, standard measures of anti-immigrant attitudes also identify those whose stance toward immigrants is supportive, affirmative, and inclusive—so much so that they treat immigrants as full members of a common community.

Keywords:   immigrant minorities, toleration, inclusive tolerance, Muslim immigrants, liberal democracy, western Europe, tolerance

The inclusion of immigrants in general and Muslim immigrants in particular is straining liberal democracies in western Europe. From year to year, other issues push themselves to the forefront. As we write, the economic crisis of the Euro zone threatens to undermine the financial foundations of the European Union. Yet even if the crisis is overcome, the inclusion of Muslim immigrants in their new countries will challenge western Europe over the next half century, and if the crisis is not overcome, the challenge of inclusion will be even more daunting. Accordingly, the aim of this chapter is to reexamine—or ironically as it turns out, recover—an earlier and more expansive understanding of tolerance.

To be tolerant, it is now agreed, means to be willing to put up with others that one dislikes or ideas that one disagrees with.1 And there is good reason to think of tolerance as requiring an effort. What does it take, after all, for a member of a political party to support their own party’s right to express its ideas? But for that member to support the right of a party whose ideas they reject and whose success they fear is proof of tolerance. So understood, tolerance is a synonym for toleration.

Toleration has become not merely the primary but also the sole meaning of tolerance as a value in democratic politics. The consequence has been to bury an older understanding of tolerance. The Latin (p.118) root tolero/are points the way to a recovery of this older understanding. The first definition strikes the familiar note: “to bear, to endure.” But the verb tolero encompasses a positive, affirmative, and nurturant disposition, too: “to support, to sustain.” This second meaning, though buried over time, has as distinguished a pedigree as the conception of tolerance championed by John Locke and his successors. Thus, in his commentary on the Gallic wars, Caesar expressly uses tolero in its positive form: to “support, nourish, maintain, sustain, preserve.”2 Our interest is not in provoking a squabble about definitions. We call attention to this older understanding of tolerance because it points the way to recognizing what contemporary measures of tolerance actually are capturing. It is our claim that in addition to identifying those with ill will toward immigrants, standard measures of anti-immigrant attitudes also identify those whose stance toward immigrants is supportive, affirmative, and inclusive—so much so that they treat immigrants as full members of a common community, and hence our introduction of the concept of inclusive tolerance.

Immigrant minorities must overcome many obstacles in making a life for themselves in their new country. It nonetheless is consensually agreed that a major force working against them is the persisting power of prejudice. It is therefore worth being as clear as possible about what constitutes prejudice.

The box “Definitions of Prejudice” presents a number of classic definitions. On a first reading, it is the dissimilarities that stand out. Prejudice is sometimes equated with irrationality (e.g., definitions 3, 4, and 7), sometimes with injustice (definition 10), and sometimes with both (e.g., definitions 1 and 2). Intolerance is sometimes conceived of as an attitude (definitions 1 and 11), and sometimes as the conjunction of an attitude (or emotion) and a pattern of behavior (e.g., definitions 2, 3, 9, and 10). And as if we did not have variety enough already, sometimes prejudice is tied to cognitive simplism in a string of guises, among

(p.119)

(p.120) them stereotypes, misinformation, prejudgment, misinformation, and rigidity (e.g., definitions 3, 4, 6, and 9).

Notwithstanding this conceptual diversity, readers will see a point of commonality in all the definitions of prejudice. People are prejudiced toward members of other groups insofar as they dislike or disdain them by virtue of this fact. And the stronger their hostility toward other groups, the more prejudiced they are. Thus the common strand running through these definitions: “thinking ill of others,” “antipathy,” “hostility,” a “highly charged … unfavorable attitude,” “a failure of human-heartedness,” and “aggression.”

Why pick hostility as the attribute to focus on? Why not rigidity, irrationality, or stereotyping, which also appear in a number of definitions? Because cognitive rigidity, irrationality, stereotyping, and other members of this conceptual family spotlight what is going on inside people’s heads—in particular, how they process information. But in the study of prejudice and politics, what matters more is how members of a majority group respond to members of a minority group. And hostility picks out a—or as we are willing to argue, the—key characteristic of their reactions to minorities: a readiness to injure, push away, deprive, discriminate. In short, prejudice against minorities matters as much as it does because it drives aggression against them.

The all-important questions that previous research on Muslim immigrants in western Europe have addressed are, How much ill will is there toward them, and what can be done to reduce it?

Both remain pressing concerns. The question that we want to ask, though, is whether this is all there is. Is decreasing the level of ill will against minorities and reducing the injuries wrought by it the best that can be hoped for? One of the marks of contemporary liberal democracy is the goodwill many feel toward minorities. Nor is it a matter merely of thinking well of them, or even also wishing them well; it is, crucially, a matter of treating them well. At any rate, that is the hypothesis we propose to test.

What must be true if our hypothesis of goodwill is true? Measures of prejudice are typically conceived of as ordering people in terms of the degree, frequency, or intensity of their negative feelings toward a minority. At one pole are the most negative people, and a continuum stretches out from there, ranging from those who are less negative to (p.121) those who are still less negative. Though the point is not made explicitly, the people who score the lowest on measures of prejudice are the least negative.

Ordering people from the most to least negative is the task of virtually all measures of prejudice.3 Thus, measures of anti-Semitism are designed to rank order people from those who most dislike and disdain Jews to those who least dislike and disdain them.4 Measures of racial prejudice are similarly designed to rank order people from those who most dislike and disdain blacks to those who least do so. And to cite yet one more example, measures of attitudes toward immigrants, including ours, are designed to rank order people from those who most dislike and disdain immigrants to those who least do so. This can be called the unipolar conception of attitudes toward minorities.

But is this the only or indeed right way to think of a continuum of feelings toward minorities? As a thought experiment, consider racial prejudice. The higher a person’s score on a measure of racial prejudice, the more negative their feelings toward blacks. Yet what is the meaning of a low score? Surely there are some white Americans with positive attitudes toward black Americans. Insofar as this is so, measures of prejudice order people from those with the most negative attitudes toward blacks to those with the most positive attitudes toward them. We will call this claim that evaluative attitudes toward minorities have a positive as well as negative pole the bipolarity hypothesis.5

The bipolarity hypothesis neither requires nor implies symmetry. Likely, fewer members of a majority have positive attitudes toward minorities than hold negative ones. Those who disdain minorities are (p.122) quite possibly more inclined to act on their feelings than those who think well of them. Still, it is our claim that a sizable portion of the majority not merely lacks ill will toward minorities but also exhibits goodwill toward them. Thinking well of a minority and even wishing it well are necessary conditions of the older understanding of tolerance that we wish to recover. But they are not sufficient. It is necessary to treat minorities well, too. But what counts as treating them well?

This manifestly is a vexing question in the context of US politics. It has repeatedly been observed that there is consensual support for the principle of equal opportunity, but substantial and sometimes overwhelming opposition to policies to achieve it.6 This has been dubbed the “principle-policy puzzle,” and usually is taken as a sign of either insincerity or hypocrisy. A sober second thought should make it plain that it is anything but a puzzle. The policies to achieve racial equality are liberal ones. Increased funding for government programs to train minorities to be able to compete for jobs is a good example. This aid surely is intended to promote racial equality, and from the perspective of a person on the political left, more government spending and bigger government programs are major tools—not the only ones, but invaluable all the same—to achieve racial equality. But more government spending and bigger government programs are liberal programs. From the perspective of someone on the right, more government spending and bigger government programs are policies that benefit government bureaucrats rather than the people they are meant to help. A different approach is necessary, conservatives believe, one that promotes individual initiative and a willingness to take responsibility for solving one’s problems. In short, in a liberal democracy like the United States, what counts as treating minorities well is inherently contestable, because it is inextricably tied to the ongoing competition between liberalism and conservatism as theories of government and citizenship.

At just this point, an advantage of studying the treatment of minorities in a welfare state becomes apparent, given that there is consensus on the assistance that the state should afford members of the national community. Hence, a clear and definite meaning can be given to the question, What counts as treating minorities well? Including them as (p.123) full members in good standing of the common community. Since inclusion in the community is the criterion, we call a readiness to do so inclusive tolerance.

How people act is a necessary condition of inclusive tolerance. But it is not a sufficient one. Why people do what they do matters, too.7 Imagine an individual; let’s name her A. She is deeply convinced of advanced countries’ responsibility for the immiseration of less advanced countries, and views the world as characterized by exploiter and exploited. Does she support benefits being awarded to immigrant minorities? Yes. Is this tolerance, though? No, because she does so to expiate her feelings of guilt. Imagine then another individual, dubbed B. He also supports benefits and rights for immigrants across the board. Yet he does so because of a conviction that they are unequipped to compete in a country whose language and culture is radically different than the country that they came from. It may be proper to describe B as compassionate, empathetic, or patronizing; it would not be proper to portray him as tolerant.

Tolerance is not the same as guilt, compassion, generosity, or noblesse oblige. And although it may suffice in politics to tolerate controversial groups, to be truly tolerant requires more. We surely would not praise a person as racially tolerant merely because they are willing to put up with blacks, despite the fact that they disdain them. The absence of ill will or mere indifference toward Muslim immigrants is not enough; it is necessary to both think well of them and treat them well, too.

Inclusive tolerance thus has two parts: tolerance as an attitude and tolerance as an action. We begin with tolerance as an attitude.

Tests of Inclusive Tolerance

Positive Affect

A necessary condition of being inclusively tolerant is thinking well of minorities. Our measure of attitudes toward immigrants was not designed to assess a positive affect toward immigrants. It is standard (p.124) issue.8 All its component items have been used in previous studies—such as beliefs that “foreigners should only be able to receive Danish citizenship after they have learned to act like a Dane” and “if there are not enough jobs, employers should employ Danes ahead of immigrants.”9 It is our claim, however, that this measure orders respondents from those with most negative attitudes toward immigrants to those with the most positive. What therefore must be true if our claim is correct? Those who score low on our attitudes toward immigrants scale must have positive—and not merely not negative—attitudes toward Muslims.

To test this assertion, we divided the distribution on the attitudes toward immigrants into (as nearly equal as possible) fifths. The index is constructed so that the higher the score, the more negative the attitude toward immigrants. Table 5.1 therefore shows five columns, with those with the lowest scores on the far left and those with the highest on the far right, followed by a sixth column indicating the scores for all respondents. Our measure of how respondents feel about Muslims could not be more direct. They were presented with a scale running from 0, “Do not like the group at all,” to 10, “Like the group very much.” The attitudes toward immigrants scale also runs from 0 to 10. For the purposes of comparison, in addition to feelings about Muslims, table 5.1 presents feelings about an array of other groups.

The first row shows the degree to which respondents who differ in their scores on the attitudes toward immigrants scale like Muslims. The columns on the left are labeled “Most positive fifth” and “Second most positive fifth.” It is, however, the appropriateness of these labels that is the hypothesis being tested. Are the lowest scorers on the attitudes toward immigrants scale merely the least negative in their feelings about Muslims or are their feelings actually positive? The higher the score, the more positive are the feelings toward Muslims.

The mean score of those who score in the lowest quintile on the attitudes toward immigrants scale, who we have provisionally labeled

(p.125)

Table 5.1 Group Sympathy by Attitudes toward Immigrants (Scale Scores)

Attitudes toward immigrants

Most positive fifth

Second most positive fifth

Middle fifth

Second most negative fifth

Most negative fifth

All

  • Muslims

  • (N = 1,872)

  • 6.89

  • (0.09)

  • 6.08

  • (0.12)

  • 5.19

  • (0.10)

  • 4.03

  • (0.11)

  • 2.45

  • (0.15)

  • 5.10

  • (0.06)

  • Born-again Christians

  • (N = 1,888)

  • 3.87

  • (0.14)

  • 3.97

  • (0.17)

  • 4.52

  • (0.15)

  • 4.76

  • (0.15)

  • 4.74

  • (0.20)

  • 4.35

  • (0.07)

  • Far Right

  • (N = 1,824)

  • 2.03

  • (0.11)

  • 2.72

  • (0.14)

  • 3.09

  • (0.12)

  • 3.65

  • (0.12)

  • 3.70

  • (0.17)

  • 2.97

  • (0.06)

  • Far Left

  • (N = 1,833)

  • 4.68

  • (0.13)

  • 4.17

  • (0.14)

  • 3.81

  • (0.12)

  • 3.85

  • (0.12)

  • 3.65

  • (0.16)

  • 4.07

  • (0.06)

Note: Entries are mean scores on a 0–10 scale, with standard errors in parentheses. The question wording is: “I will now mention some of the different groups in Denmark and ask what you think about them. Please respond on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 indicates that you do not like the group at all, and 10 indicates that you like the group very much.” For question wording and scaling of the attitudes toward immigrants scale, see chapter 4 and appendix D. In the table, the scale has been divided into five roughly equal-size categories.

“most positive about Muslims,” is 6.89. Moving from the leftmost column to the rightmost one, scores on the like Muslim scale progressively drop. The middle fifth are neutral (5.19), the second most negative fall on the dislike side of the like Muslim scale (4.03), while the most negative fifth in attitudes toward immigrants definitely dislike Muslims (2.45). In short, it is not merely that the feelings about immigrants of those respondents who score low on the attitudes toward immigrants scale are not negative. They are positive.

This result may seem to close the question—low scorers on the attitudes toward immigrants scale do not merely dislike immigrants; they like them. But the feelings of like or dislike that respondents express about immigrants, in isolation, are systematically ambiguous. Low scores on the attitudes toward immigrants scale may pick out people who have positive feelings about Muslims specifically. Alternatively, low scores may select the type of person who tends to have positive feelings toward others in general. Consider the second row in table 5.1, (p.126) which shows respondents’ feelings about born-again Christians. All in all, they are liked less than Muslims. The crucial point, though, is this: those who score low on the attitudes toward immigrants scale like Muslims strikingly more than they like born-again Christians (the mean scores are 6.89 compared to 3.87).10

Why is this point critical? Because it reveals that when low scorers on the attitudes toward immigrants scale report that they like Muslims, it is not because they are prone to saying that they like everyone. The last two rows on the spectrum of scores in table 5.1 complete this more differentiated portrait of those who are tolerant of immigrants. On the one hand, they are more likely than high scorers to dislike the far Right. On the other hand, they are more likely than high scorers to like the far Left. Indeed, the striking feature of table 5.1 is that those we classify as tolerant like Muslims far more than they like born-again Christians, the far Left, or the far Right. Even putting it this way understates the point. They feel perfectly free to express their dislike of some other groups. It is Muslims, and Muslims alone, that they express a clear feeling of liking. We therefore will treat those scoring low on the attitudes toward immigrants scale as not merely lacking in negative attitudes toward immigrants but instead having positive ones. They qualify as tolerant rather than simply as not intolerant—as having goodwill toward immigrants and not merely as lacking ill will.

But there is all the difference between thinking well of immigrants and treating them well. Evidence of what people do, not just how they feel, is required, or still more specifically, proof not just of a desire to be inclusive of immigrants but in fact acting to include them. That is the task we turn to now.

Civil Rights

All who legally reside in Denmark, by virtue of residence alone, are entitled to fundamental civil rights. Freedom of expression is one; freedom of assembly another. It is one thing, though, for members of a minority to be entitled to rights. It is another for citizens to line up on their side in (p.127) support of their rights. A basic test of inclusive tolerance, then, is inclusion of immigrants in the community of citizens entitled to civil rights.

How can we determine whether those we have classified as tolerant not merely wish immigrants to be treated well but actually treat them well, too—are protective, supportive, and inclusive? Earlier, we introduced a measure of commitment to civil rights. This measure summarizes decisions made about entitlement to rights. People are asked, for example, whether Muslims have a right to make presentations to high school students and take part in public debates and to (not) have their phones tapped by police. For convenience, we split the distribution on our scale of commitment to civil rights into arithmetic thirds. Table 5.2 shows the percentage scoring in the highest third of the commitment to civil rights scale as a function of how positive or negative their attitudes are concerning immigrants.

Consider how the most positive fifth deals with Muslims: 93 percent score high on our scale of commitment to civil rights. The level of support among the second most positive fifth, though lower, is still high in absolute terms: 77 percent score high on the scale of commitment to civil rights. Then, the pattern we saw in table 5.1 further repeats itself: there is less than majority support among the second most negative fifth, and far less than majority support among the most negative fifth.

It is only to be expected that levels of support for civil rights for a controversial group—whether Muslim or any other group—will be higher for those who like the group and lower for those who dislike it. Our interest lies with two other questions. The first is whether our measure of attitudes toward immigrants is merely a measure of how much people like or dislike immigrants. It clearly is at least this, as the results in table 5.1 depicted. But we believe it is not merely this. It also is a measure of tolerance—a willingness to consider members of another ethnic, political, or social group to be members in good standing of the national community as well. Presuming that the answer to the first question is yes, then a second question presents itself. The more socially tolerant are naturally more likely than the socially intolerant to support the civil rights of Muslims. Yet are the more socially tolerant as likely to support the rights of Muslims as they are to support the civil rights of fellow Danes?

(p.128)

Table 5.2 Inclusive Tolerance and Civil Rights (Percent in Highest Third of Supporters of Civil Rights)

Attitudes toward immigrants

Most positive fifth

Second most positive fifth

Middle fifth

Second most negative fifth

Most negative fifth

All

Muslims (N = 456)

93%

77%

62%

48%

29%

66%

Born-again Christians (N = 462)

84%

73%

55%

52%

36%

62%

Far Right (N = 506)

80%

60%

55%

41%

40%

57%

Far Left (N = 427)

91%

80%

62%

43%

24%

65%

Note: Entries are the percentage in each category of attitudes toward immigrants who fall in the most supportive third on the scale of support for the groups’ civil rights. For question wordings for civil rights, see table 2.2. For question wording and scaling of the attitudes toward immigrants scale, see chapter 4 and appendix D. In the table, the scale has been divided into five roughly equal-size categories.

Again the answer is yes. Virtually all the most positive fifth of the socially tolerant score in the top tier of supporters of civil liberties, or more precisely, 93 percent do. Looking at the details in table 5.2, that number is higher than the numbers scoring in the top tier of supporters of civil liberties for born-again Christians and the far Right. But to point to these differences is to pick at details. The most positive fifth and even the second most positive fifth give overwhelming support to the civil rights of all out-of-the-mainstream groups, with the arguable exception of the far Right. In terms of civil rights, the inclusively tolerant indeed include out-of-the-mainstream groups, encompassing Muslims just as much as Danes, as members of a common community, treating them just as they would treat a fellow Dane.

Focusing now on the negative pole of the attitudes toward immigrants scale, again picking at details, one could attempt an argument that Muslims received less support for their rights than, say, born-again Christians and the far Right. But the differences are small, and the big point is that the level of support for civil rights and liberties systematically falls, for all groups, from a high level at the positive pole of (p.129) tolerance to a low level, again for all groups, at the negative pole of tolerance. Second, low scorers on the attitudes toward immigrants scale are inclusively tolerant in the most straightforward sense: they give overwhelming support to the civil rights and civil liberties of Muslims. Indeed, they offer so much support that they treat Muslims as members of a common community, supporting their rights as fully as they support those of fellow Danes.

Now we turn to a final criterion: the full inclusion of Muslims as members of the welfare state.

Inclusive Tolerance and Welfare Benefits

The premise of Danes’ understanding of the welfare state is that they are partners in a moral covenant. It is as partners that they form a common community, not merely a nationl state. Accordingly, inclusive tolerance in its broadest terms turns on the degree to which immigrant minorities are treated as fellow members of a community that takes responsibility for the welfare of its members. But treated as fellow members with respect to what?

In a welfare state, the question of with respect to what has a clear answer. To be treated as a full member of a common community is to be awarded all the benefits of the welfare state awarded to members of the larger community by virtue of their being members of a common community. This standard is easily met in a welfare state like Denmark. The right to claim a benefit may be universal, but the right itself is not unconditional. People in need are not entitled to welfare benefits merely by virtue of being in need of them. They must earn the right. As important, there is a shared understanding in Danish society of what people must do to have earned these benefits. They must make a sincere effort to contribute to the welfare of the community before they are entitled to social welfare benefits themselves. In the Danish political idiom, as we have remarked, duties come before rights.

The activation policy is a prize example. The objective of this policy, readers will recall, is to facilitate finding a regular job. People receiving social welfare benefits are required to accept temporary jobs or take part in job training programs.11 This policy is an instance of government (p.130) efforts to enforce the social covenant underpinning the welfare state, and—though honored more in the breach than in practice—provide citizens with the skills and support they need to meet their obligations to the welfare state.12

The activation policy—happily for investigators of prejudice and discrimination, yet less so for their victims—developed a subtext. At the outset, the argument for the activation policy was a general one: the need to create economic incentives for people on welfare to find a job. But the center-right government, with the assistance of the Danish People’s Party, tied the problem of moving people in general off welfare and into work to immigrants in particular. In 2005, the Danish government launched the initiative “A New Chance for Everyone” with the aim of improving the integration of immigrants. A significant part of this initiative was preoccupied with the high unemployment rates among immigrants. The government sought to lower the economic incentives for receiving welfare benefits, and hence, force welfare recipients to make an effort to find a job. Instructively, however, the initiative did not simply lower the rate of social welfare benefits in general. Rather, it specifically lowered the benefits for two narrow groups of recipients: individuals permanently on social welfare and couples on social welfare. The government was quite explicit about the intentions behind this targeting, noting, for example, that “the proposition will especially provide immigrants with improved incentives for taking a job, because they constitute the majority of couples on social welfare.”13 In our experiments, we exploit these background beliefs, using them to provide a credible justification for imposing tougher requirements on immigrants. Our conception of inclusive tolerance in this respect incorporates the spirit of the standard notion of tolerance: members of the majority should have to resist some temptation to treat minorities differently and worse.

The activation policy, by providing a credible justification, imposes more severe requirements on immigrants, thereby opening the door to discrimination. The readiness to walk through this door, we have contended, turns on the difference between the logic of retrospective versus prospective judgments. It is self-contradictory to claim that a young (p.131) person has not met their duty since, by virtue of being young, it is questionable whether they will do so. As such, everyone supports the same assistance to young immigrants as to fellow Danes, and the same stricter requirements on young Danes as on immigrants. Decisions dealing with older immigrants, in contrast, allow the logic of retrospective judgments to come into play. One may take account of the likelihood that a person wishing to receive a benefit has done their duty to contribute to the larger society, thus opening the door to drawing on perceptions that immigrants have shirked their responsibility to the larger society.

The conditional mood “may” points toward another condition for discriminatory behavior. A common perception of Muslim women is that they choose—or are required—to stay at home rather than go out and participate in the life of the larger society. They therefore wind up enjoying social welfare benefits while conforming to Muslim customs that sequester women from males outside the family. Yet whether members of the majority draw on this perception depends on whether they are disposed to do so; if they dislike immigrants, they will hold to this view of Muslim women. But what should we expect if they do not dislike immigrants, or still better, if they do not merely not dislike them but instead think well of them and wish them well? It is not as though a person who is well disposed toward Muslim immigrants will be ignorant of the perception that a Muslim woman has not worked in the labor force to the same extent as an older Danish woman is likely to have done. The view of Muslim women choosing or being required to stay at home is not an entirely imaginative action—which is, for our purposes, precisely the point. Because this perception of older Muslim women is reality oriented, it is not implausible to suppose that some effort is required to set it aside. Not implausible, we say, because we have no way of providing direct evidence to test this conjecture. Then again, to say not implausible is, for an American at any rate, to put our case too weakly. Jesse Jackson, at the peak of his fame as a leader in the civil rights movement, once famously remarked: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody White and feel relieved.”14

(p.132) Then again, this story underestimates the opportunity that our experiments provide to treat immigrants differently or worse. Respondents are asked either about an immigrant or native citizen. They are not put in the position, at one and the same moment, of showing that they treat the one worse than the other. So we will interpret an older immigrant being treated the same as a fellow Dane, in the face of a credible justification for not doing so, as an affirmative act.

Table 5.3 displays support for the imposition of tougher requirements on a woman depending on whether she has an immigrant background or not for each quintile of scorers on the attitudes toward immigrants scale. Consider first the rightmost column, which summarizes the reactions of those with the most negative attitudes toward immigrants. These respondents are about twice as willing to impose stricter activation requirements on the immigrant woman than on the nonimmigrant one (with mean scores of 0.76 compared to 0.41). No less striking is how deep into the general population discriminatory behavior goes. Columns three, four, and five in table 5.3 account for roughly 60 percent of our sample.15 Each shows a double standard, with immigrants treated differently and worse. This evidence of ill will should be kept clearly in mind as we now turn to the question of goodwill.

Inclusive tolerance goes beyond toleration, we are arguing. It also goes beyond wishing minorities well to actually treating them well. One standard of treating immigrants well—not the only one, to be clear, but the one that we believe bears most directly on immigrants becoming a part of their new communities—is their being treated as members of the community. In this light, consider the first column in table 5.3. The most tolerant are far less willing to line up in support of imposing stricter requirements on the immigrant woman in her fifties than are any of the other groups—indeed, they are only half as likely to do so as the most intolerant (with mean scores of 0.39 compared to 0.76). Still more to the point, the most tolerant are equally reluctant to impose tougher requirements on the nonimmigrant woman, but they are not more so. In fact, they respond to the immigrant woman the same way that they respond to the nonimmigrant woman in the

(p.133)

Table 5.3 Tougher Requirements Experiment: Support for Tougher Requirements for Receiving Welfare Payments by Attitudes toward Immigrants

Attitudes toward immigrants

Most positive fifth

Second most positive fifth

Middle fifth

Second most negative fifth

Most negative fifth

Woman in her fifties (N = 340)

0.37(0.04)

0.49 (0.06)

0.47 (0.05)

0.50 (0.04)

0.41 (0.07)

Immigrant woman in her fifties (N = 331)

0.39 (0.05)

0.52 (0.06)

0.57 (0.05)

0.66 (0.04)

0.76 (0.06)

Note: Entries are mean support for tougher requirements for receiving welfare payments, measured on a 0–1 scale, with standard errors in parentheses. Higher values indicate greater support for tougher requirements. Question wording: “Imagine a woman in her fifties [with an immigrant background] who is currently on welfare. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the activation requirement for her should be made stricter?” One version included the bracketed part, while the other version excluded it. The response categories were: agree completely, agree somewhat, neither agree nor disagree, disagree somewhat, and disagree completely. “Don’t know” responses were excluded. For question wording and scaling of the attitudes toward immigrants scale, see chapter 4 and appendix D. In the table, the scale has been divided into five roughly equal-size categories.

same circumstances (0.39 compared to 0.37). And as an inspection of the second column of table 5.3 reveals, the same is true of the scorers in the second most positive quintile: they are as supportive of an immigrant woman in her fifties as of a fellow Dane in her fifties (0.52 compared to 0.49).

Our measures of tolerance are crude, we acknowledge—although, we would add, no more so than those of previous studies. But our results are more reliable than those of previous public opinion surveys, thanks to the power of randomized experiments.16 We believe that the results of the woman in her fifties version of the tougher requirements experiment suggest two conclusions. First, immigrants are treated as fellow members of a common community by a substantial portion of the public, on the order of four in ten. Second, in the rest of society there is (p.134) compelling evidence of discriminatory behavior toward immigrants.17 We think it is fair to say that the first conclusion will come as more of a surprise to researchers than the second. Who doubts that prejudice and discrimination are problems? Yet to our knowledge, previous research has not focused on the opposite side of the coin: that substantial numbers treat minorities as members of a common community. So it is our good fortune that the hypothesis of inclusive tolerance can be put to the test in a second and altogether independent experiment.

In the many children experiment, we asked respondents whether the welfare benefits of a family where both parents are on welfare and have children should be reduced in order to press them to find a job. Randomly, the family was described as an “immigrant” family half of the time. The rationale behind the experiment was, obviously enough, to trigger the widely held view that immigrants are disproportionately on welfare and do not practice family planning.

Table 5.4 presents the results of a parallel analysis of the many children experiment. The results buttress both conclusions that we drew from the woman in her fifties experiment. First, even a cursory glance at columns three, four, or five will reveal evidence of discrimination. The odds that an immigrant family where both parents are on welfare and have many children will have their welfare benefits cut are dramatically higher than for a nonimmigrant family in exactly the same circumstances. To look at those in the middle quintile—to point to a striking example—the mean level of support for cutting the welfare benefits of an immigrant family with many children is 0.56; in contrast, the mean level for doing the same to a Danish family with many children is only 0.41.

Again, we urge keeping this finding of discrimination squarely in mind. But without minimizing the importance of this finding, we also contend in our hypothesis that attitudes toward minorities can be positive rather than merely not negative. Hence, we want to underscore the second finding in table 5.4. The lower the score, the less support for cutting welfare benefits. An inspection of columns one and two shows

(p.135)

Table 5.4 Many Children Experiment: Support for Cutting Welfare Benefits by Attitudes toward Immigrants

Attitudes toward immigrants

Most positive fifth

Second most positive fifth

Middle fifth

Second most negative fifth

Most negative fifth

Family with many children (N = 490)

0.24 (0.03)

0.29 (0.05)

0.41 (0.04)

0.50 (0.04)

0.65 (0.05)

Immigrant family with many children (N = 461)

0.21 (0.03)

0.35 (0.05)

0.56 (0.04)

0.69 (0.03)

0.81 (0.04)

Note: Entries are mean support for cutting welfare payments, measured on a 0–1 scale, with standard errors in parentheses. Higher values indicate cutting welfare payments. Question wording: “Imagine [a family/an immigrant family] with many children, where both the mother and father are on welfare. To what extent do you agree or disagree that their welfare should be reduced in order to push them to find a job?” One version included the “family” and the other included the “immigrant family” part of the bracket. The response categories were: agree completely, agree somewhat, neither agree nor disagree, disagree somewhat, and disagree completely. “Don’t know” responses were excluded. For question wording and scaling of the attitudes toward immigrants scale, see chapter 4 and appendix D. In the table, the scale has been divided into five roughly equal-size categories.

that those with positive attitudes treat immigrants and fellow Danes alike. To be sure, visually there are appearances of difference. Those with the most positive attitudes toward immigrants may seem to favor them (0.21 versus 0.24); those with the second most positive attitudes seem to favor fellow Danes (0.35 versus 0.29). But the appearance of differences is visual: statistically, the differences are insignificant. The many children experiment, then, replicates the finding of inclusive tolerance—immigrants being treated as fellow members of the community by a substantial portion of ordinary citizens—in the woman in her fifties experiment.

Demonstrating that results are consistent with one’s hypothesis is only half the battle, however. It also is necessary to establish that they are not consistent with alternative (plausible) hypotheses. We therefore turn to testing alternative explanations of our results.

(p.136) Two Competing Hypotheses

Two alternative explanations stand out. The first is partisan ideology. Parties on the left are programmatically more supportive of immigrants, more sensitive to the hurdles of adjustment in a new country that they must overcome, and in any case more committed to state action to help those who are less well off, which very much includes large numbers of Muslim immigrants in a country like Denmark. In contrast, parties on the right are programmatically committed to making the welfare state more efficient and thus more affordable, more heavily weight the disproportionate demands that immigrants are putting on the welfare state, and are in any case more likely to perceive immigrants as posing a threat to the country’s culture and traditions.

Partisan ideology is being invoked in a minor key, we would emphasize. It goes too far to assert that the ordinary citizen is “innocent of ideology, ill prepared, and perhaps even incapable of following (much less actually participating in) discussions about the direction that government take.”18 This is no doubt true, if ideological thinking is pitched at a high enough level of abstraction or sufficiently challenging degree of complexity. But that is not the level at which an ideological dimension like libertarianism-authoritarianism is pitched.19 It requires no mastery of political concepts to hold to a view that violent crimes should be punished more severely or economic growth should be ensured even at the cost of environmental interests. It surely also cannot be doubted that adherents of parties on the right are markedly less likely to believe that immigrants deserve government aid than adherents of parties on the left. And it cannot be doubted for good reason. As it turns out, our measures of partisan ideology and attitudes toward immigrants are tied together (r = 0.42, p < 0.001). Yet if the two are so strongly correlated, then it is all the more plausible to suppose that partisan ideology, not tolerance, is carrying the explanatory burden.

A competing account runs along social psychological rather than political lines. A long established line of research has illuminated the (p.137) far-reaching consequences of interpersonal trust.20 Trust supplies both the assurance and incentive for social cooperation. From this analytic perspective, a readiness to trust and think well of immigrants is a generalization of a readiness to trust and think well of people in general. Insofar as this is so, positive attitudes toward immigrants will only appear to encourage the evenhanded treatment of immigrants. In reality, the root of evenhandedness is interpersonal trust. This is the generalized trust hypothesis, which has good empirical credentials, too. Our generalized social trust scale correlates highly with our attitudes toward immigrants scale (r = −0.42, p < 0.001).21 And to the degree that attitudes toward immigrants are a function of interpersonal trust, the evenhanded treatment of immigrants and native Danes may be grounded not in attitudes toward immigrants specifically but instead in attitudes toward people generally.

The inclusive tolerance hypothesis, as we have seen, provides an account of evenhandedness. Can the two competing hypotheses do so as well? Table 5.5 reports the results of testing the partisan ideology hypothesis, first, in the many children experiment and then in the woman in her fifties version of the tougher requirements experiment.22

The upper panel of table 5.5 presents the results of the many children experiment. The difference in reactions to immigrant and Danish families with many children is arithmetically smaller for the Left and nonexistent for the Social Liberal Party. Strictly, however, to obtain a statistically significant difference between the ideological Left and Right requires combining the Social Liberal Party with the avowedly Left parties, which seems a tad arbitrary, and in any case provides not nearly as satisfactory an account of evenhandedness as the inclusive tolerance hypothesis.23

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Table 5.5 A Test of the Partisan Ideology Hypothesis

Left wing

Social Liberals

Social Democrats

Center Right

Danish People’s Party

Many children experiment

Family with many children (N = 431)

0.19 (0.04)

0.30 (0.05)

0.33 (0.04)

0.52 (0.03)

0.53 (0.06)

Immigrant family with many children (N = 399)

0.25 (0.05)

0.27 (0.05)

0.46 (0.04)

0.67 (0.03)

0.72 (0.06)

Tougher requirements experiment

Woman in her fifties (N = 293)

0.37 (0.07)

0.46 (0.07)

0.35 (0.04)

0.51 (0.04)

0.38 (0.07)

Immigrant woman in her fifties (N = 293)

0.56 (0.06)

0.54 (0.07)

0.56 (0.05)

0.61 (0.04)

0.67 (0.07)

Note: Entries are mean support for cutting welfare payments or mean support for tougher requirements for receiving welfare payments, respectively, measured on a 0–1 scale, with standard errors in parentheses. Higher values indicate greater support. For question wordings, see tables 5.3 and 5.4.

Perhaps the partisan ideology fares better in the woman in her fifties experiment. The results in the lower panel of table 5.5 make plain the answer: no. Across the ideological spectrum, there is clear and distinct evidence of a double standard. For parties on the left, the readiness to impose tougher requirements on an immigrant woman in her fifties is 0.56, compared to 0.37 if she is nonimmigrant. For Social Democrats, the comparable figures are 0.56 compared to 0.35, and for the Center-Right, 0.51 and 0.61.

The upper panel of table 5.6 presents the test results of the generalized trust hypothesis in the two experiments. Again we begin with the many children experiment. At each level of trust, there is more support for requiring immigrant families with many children to be cut off welfare than their Danish counterparts. What is more, the level of discrimination is essentially the same at all levels of trust (low trust is 0.56 and 0.69, respectively; high trust is 0.27 and 0.35, respectively). And as the

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Table 5.6 A Test of the Generalized Trust Hypothesis

Low trust

Middle trust

High trust

Many children experiment

Family with many children (N = 490)

0.55 (0.03)

0.41 (0.03)

0.27 (0.03)

Immigrant family with many children (N = 461)

0.69 (0.03)

0.53 (0.03)

0.35 (0.03)

Tougher requirements experiment

Woman in her fifties (N = 293)

0.49 (0.04)

0.39 (0.04)

0.46 (0.04)

Immigrant woman in her fifties (N = 293)

0.62 (0.04)

0.60 (0.04)

0.51 (0.04)

Note: Entries are mean support for cutting welfare payments or mean support for tougher requirements for receiving welfare payments, respectively, measured on a 0–1 scale, with standard errors in parentheses. Higher values indicate greater support. For question wording, see tables 5.3 and 5.4. For question wording and scaling of the generalized social trust scale, see text and appendix D. In the table, the scale has been divided into three roughly equal-size categories.

lower panel of table 5.6 shows, the generalized trust hypothesis fails to clear the fence in the woman in her fifties version of the tougher requirements experiment. Again, there is more support for imposing tougher requirements to receive social benefits on an immigrant than on a Danish woman at all levels of generalized trust, and again, too, the degree of discrimination is indistinguishable at all levels of generalized trust (low trust is 0.49 and 0.62, respectively; high trust is 0.46 and 0.51, respectively).

In short, as the results of both the many children and woman in her fifties experiments show, neither the partisan ideology or generalized trust hypotheses provide as satisfactory an account of evenhandedness, let alone a superior one, as the hypothesis of inclusive tolerance.

Coda

Tolerance once was regarded as the sine qua non of democratic politics. No longer. It has been demoted from the first rank of democratic values by many theorists of democracy. It is no better than a second-rank value—or “mere” tolerance, as they often refer to it. Why mere tolerance? Because it sets the bar too low, theorists argue. In an age of (p.140) diversity and multiculturalism, the argument now runs, every group has a duty not merely to accept but also to respect and indeed esteem the lifeways of other groups.

For our part, we have become persuaded that tolerance is an underrated value—underrated because what it is taken to mean is constricted. Tolerance is not a synonym for toleration. It goes beyond a willingness to put up with others whose beliefs, appearance, or origins differ. It involves not merely the absence of ill will but also the presence of goodwill. We are far from supposing that this disposition to think of and treat minorities well is equal in strength to the array of opposing forces. But the results we have reported give credibility to a claim that substantial numbers think well of minorities, wish them well, and treat them well, too. This is a form of tolerance that is, above all else, inclusive, embracing immigrants and treating them as fellow members of a common community.

Notes:

(1) A philosophical tradition stands behind the conception of tolerance. See, for example, Williams 2005. And a body of research—most notably, Sullivan, Piereson, and Marcus 1982—made it the pivotal premise in the measurement of citizens’ support for civil liberties and civil rights

(2) Lewis 1890. For this display of erudition, we are delighted to acknowledge that we are wholly in debt to our colleague Joshiah Ober.

(3) Research on prejudice as two-dimensional—negative and positive, thereby opening up the possibility of assessing ambivalence—is the noteworthy exception. For a classic work, see Katz, Wackenhut, and Haas 1986. For more recent work, see, for example, Son Hing et al. 2008.

(4) For a classic study of anti-Semitism in the United States, see Selznick and Steinberg 1969.

(5) For empirical evidence, see Sniderman and Stiglitz 2008. Michael Tesler and David O. Sears (2010) expressly make this claim for their measure of racism in their study of the 2008 election. Elisabeth Iversflaten, Scott Blinder, and Robert Ford (2010) provide a complimentary but quite distinct argument. Their studies focus on the internalization of an antiracism norm, and offer an original as well as promising line of reasoning (see also Blinder 2007; Blinder, Ford, and Ivarsflaten 2010). Neither our argument nor our findings are at cross-purposes with theirs. The pivotal distinction is our assertion that there is a positive force, not just a restraint, at work.

(6) We rely here on the classic work Schuman et al. 1997.

(8) We introduced this scale in chapter 4; also see appendix D.

(9) It happens that three of the four items are negatively worded, but the direction of the wording is merely a contingent fact: the rejection of an aversive response to a minority is an expression of a positive disposition to them. The construction algorithm is standard issue, too. Just as in previous studies, each item is equally weighted and negative responses are summed.

(10) It is, of course, just the other way around for those who score high on the attitudes toward immigrants scale. They dislike Muslims markedly more they than they dislike born-again Christians (2.45 compared to 4.74).

(11) See the discussion of the tougher requirements experiment in chapter 3.

(12) See Cox 2001; Loftager 2004, 93–95. As we described in chapter 3, job training activities are routinely accused of being both dull and meaningless.

(13) Danish Government 2005, 27 (our translation).

(15) Which is a quite different thing from asserting that 60 percent of our sample, and by inference the general population, discriminates against immigrants.

(16) Which is not to suggest that each particular survey experiment does not suffer the standard limitations of survey research.

(17) We cannot determine the proportion of the public that discriminates, partly because of the specific design of our experiments, and partly because it will vary from situation to situation. More specifically, our experiments are between—rather than within—subjects, and our measures are ordinal, not ratio.

(19) For an analysis putting principles and values center stage in citizen political reasoning, see Goren 2013.

(21) The generalized social trust scale consists of three items: “There are not that many people you can trust completely,” “Other people will exploit you if you are not careful,” and “Now I would like to hear whether you think you can trust most people or if you think that you can’t be too careful when dealing with other people (you can trust most people/it depends … / you can’t be too careful when dealing with other people).” The scale was constructed such that higher values indicate higher interpersonal trust; see appendix D.

(22) Note that this table is a replication of the results from tables 3.5 and 3.6 in chapter 3.

(23) The results are available on request.