Vanishing American has lately published an exceptional series of posts grappling with a topic that seems to weigh more heavily with every passing year: political correctness. See here, here, and here. Her posts have attracted an unusual number of passionate comments, many of them showing evidence of a prolonged and painful attempt to understand political correctness (hereafter PC) and its implications. PC obviously leaves her readership, mainly traditionalist conservatives, in chronic pain.
I recommend you look into the posts linked to above, along with the comments. I'd like to take up the subject here, as briefly as possible consistent with what I think needs to be said. Today I'll talk about the nature of PC; in the next posting (or one to come soon) about what can, should, and must be done about it.
Many traditionalist conservatives feel, with growing unease, that they are living in a closed society. It doesn't have the usual trappings of tyranny or dictatorship: there are no death squads roaming the country, the outward forms of democracy continue. But there is an underlying sense of dread, its cause all the more serious for being camouflaged as something moral, compassionate, sensitive to the needs and feelings of society's most unfortunate members.
When people started talking about PC, in the early '90s as I recall, it was mostly about euphemistic language. No longer was anyone "retarded" -- they were "developmentally disabled." A person crippled from an accident was "challenged." All the kids in a classroom were "special" (so, as anyone capable of rudimentary logic could see, no one was special).
Even those who objected to this brand of PC tried not to get stressed over it. Just more psychobabble and academic silliness, they said. They made fun of PC's more outlandish aspects, turned it into joke fodder. But -- and in retrospect, it was a big mistake not snuffing out the beast in its cradle -- those still moored to common sense figured sweet reasonableness would win the day. PC was just another fad that would blink out.
But it didn't. Why not can be debated, and no doubt there were plenty of factors, but one certainly was that PC became just too useful as a weapon. The political left, smarting from the collapse of old-style Communism, turned to new tactics in its endless quest to enforce its vision on an unwilling humanity. Economic Marxism, which had proved such a dismal failure, was quietly abandoned in favor of what has been called cultural Marxism. When the proletariat failed to live up to its responsibilities as a revolutionary class based on its worldwide victimization, a new victim class had to be drafted into service. And what better victim class could you ask for than everyone on earth who wasn't white and male?
PC was supercharged to become, not just a feel-good tonic for the unfortunate, but a moral arbiter. Now you not only had to watch your language, but take care not to perform any act or gesture that could remotely be construed as offensive, or not deferential enough, to the transnational victim brotherhood and sisterhood.
Tactically, the underlying concept was brilliant: PC hijacked people's best impulses. Rather than appealing to anger and prejudice, like a traditional fascist movement, it appealed to idealism. To resist any claims by any victim group, or to perceive any of its members as less than morally superior to the wicked society they were in (but not of) was to be an oppressor. The cultural Marxists had discovered a remarkable style of ju-jitsu: turn the ordinary person's kind tendencies against him. Make him feel guilty for his so-called privileges, even if they had been earned. Define any limits on meeting the demands of racial, ethnic, or gender defined groups as a shameful ism (e.g., racism). Thus, for every objection raised against the radical limitations on personal expression and choice, those who were in thrall to PC had ready-made antidotes in the form of curse words: homophobia! Sexism! Xenophobia!
As cultural Marxism picked up steam, PC became a social glue that held all its aspects (globalization, open borders, race replacement, etc.) together. PC, through its power to mold thought through language, defined the new civil order.
Today, PC constricts not only what may be said, but requires assent to political and philosophical doctrines. Among these are absolute equality among individuals, ethnic groups, and societies -- no one and no culture can be considered more advanced, smarter, productive, or ethical than any other. Any apparent difference in ability is only a result of cultural oppression. Even if you don't claim superiority for your own culture or traditions, but just want to keep them intact, that is a crime against humanity.
Intellectually, PC overthrows any idea of truth or objectivity. Truth is nothing but a rationalization for privilege, and the "narrative" of any victim group is as valid, if not more valid, than the product of disinterested research.
This is how PC has shaped the world in which we now live and move and have our being. It is a soft totalitarianism in which to open your lips in protest is to place yourself outside respectable discourse. You have a stain that will never wash off.
Those who see the world in terms of individuals, not victim groups; who see differences as well as similarities; and who don't believe in suppressing ideas that make the Leftist Establishment uncomfortable must take back the freedom that has been driven into hiding by the "dictatorship of virtue." Political correctness must die.
In a future posting, I'll look at what needs to be done to make that happen.