Tolerance, an under-rated virtue, is the way to guard against the worst extremes
Toleration can be regarded as a bit of a woolly virtue – worthy, of course, but on the dull spectrum. In fact, it takes determination to be tolerant.
It is easier by far to be extremist, especially for those in politics, where adopting a colourful position helps them to become memorable. Varying levels of extremism have propelled politicians through their careers, from Nigel Farage in Britain, to Geert Wilders in Holland, to Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. In the North, Ian Paisley made his name as a diehard, although he discovered the art of moderation in later life.
His successor, Peter Robinson, encountered a spot of bother recently after appearing to defend a born again Christian preacher who denounced Islam as satanic, in a sermon at a Belfast church which the First Minister attends sometimes.