Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Edward Webb




This paper focuses on governmental use of the idea of “tolerance” (based on Brown 2009) when talking about Muslim minorities after nationally traumatic events. It explores the cases of the U.S. after 9/11 and the UK after 7/7. It examines speeches by the President (U.S.) or Prime Minister (UK) before and after the nationally traumatic event. When governments speak about “tolerating” minorities, they are suggesting that the minority has traits that are difficult to accept and need to be “tolerated.” The implication is that toleration for the minority is contingent on good behavior. In both countries, the idea of tolerance justifies actions that stretch the limits of liberal democracy in order to draw a line between tolerable and intolerable Muslim minorities. This paper suggests past discourses and the governmental policy response to the national trauma, especially when policies include extra-liberal practices, shape the trajectory of shifts in the tolerance discourse.