While I still have many issues with the Mitchell Administration's decision to allow city sponsorship of today's progressive rally in City Hall Square, I have accepted a invitation to speak at the event.  Here is why.

Today's event, spearheaded by the city's Human Relation's Commission  is billed as a "rally to celebrate peace, tolerance and diversity."  Executive Director Marcelina Pina-Christian assures me the rally will not be political in nature, (an anti-Trump rally).  I take her at her word.

Pina-Christian was troubled by my perception of the rally being only for those with progressive viewpoints and Ward City Councilor Dana Rebeiro invited me to join her on stage to address the issue of tolerance.  After grousing that the rally was not going to be inclusive of those with differing views I could not decline the invitation without being hypocritical.

As a preface to my remarks this evening let me just say that I am heartened that area progressives want to talk about tolerance.  We've all watched in horror as some on the left have tried to stifle free speech and expression when it didn't jibe with their point of view.  Milo at U.C. Berkley and Ann Coulter in Philadelphia quickly come to mind.

Until now the progressives have demanded that their points of view on everything from sexuality to immigration policy be tolerated by those on the right but have been intolerant by refusing to listen to the view points of others with whom they disagree.

I am hoping that today's rally marks a turning point and that progressives are truly ready to engage in good faith dialogue with others.  While we may not agree on the pathway, I believe most want what's best for America.  We can agree to disagree but keep trying to find a common pathway.

I do a live radio call in show from 12:00pm-3pm Monday through Friday on WBSM.  I encourage those with different views to call in to the program.  Because we disagree there is no reason to be disagreeable.

Tolerance and respect for each other's views can go a long way towards finding solutions to our common problems.

Today's rally is at 5:30pm in City Hall Square

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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