Eric Langborgh provides an invaluable service in setting out the history of political correctness and explaining its potential to poison the freedoms traditionally enjoyed in this country, starting but unfortunately not ending with freedom of speech. In the paper he links by Bill Lind, two points immediately struck home with me. As Lind writes:
[I]n classical economic Marxism, certain groups, i.e. workers and peasants, are a priori good, and other groups, i.e., the bourgeoisie and capital owners, are evil. In the cultural Marxism of Political Correctness, certain groups are good – feminist women,…blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals. These groups are determined to be “victims,” and therefore automatically good regardless of what any of them do. Similarly, white males are determined automatically to be evil [see, e.g., Duke lacrosse players], thereby becoming the equivalent of the bourgeoisie in economic Marxism….
“[In addition,] both [economic and cultural Marxism] have a method of analysis that automatically gives the answers they want….For the cultural Marxist, it’s deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired. So we find, for example, that all of Shakespeare is about the suppression of women, or the Bible is really about race and gender. All these texts simply become grist for the mill, which proves that “all history is about which groups have power over which other groups.”
The stripping away of meaning from ordinary words is crucial to the triumph of political correctness — and counteracting this tactic crucial to its defeat. Thus, I want to begin today with what will be a continuing project: publishing the Dictionary of Political Correctness, so that when readers see or hear a fishy phrase, they’ll be clued in to what’s actually going on.
Here are the first few entries in the Dictionary:
Diversity – Diversity is an outcome that (1) can’t be defended on its own merit and (2) therefore has to be glommed together with a bunch of other things so that people won’t notice fact (1). Thus, when an academically less qualified minority group member is given a slot in the entering class over a non-minority group member with demonstrably better academic skills, this is “justified” because, “taken as a whole,” it gives the incoming class “diversity.”
Multiculturalism – Multiculturalism is a big word meaning, “The West stinks.” The shorthand version is, “America stinks.” Under multiculturalism, George Washington, a slave-owning white male with no accomplishments of note, is out, and Che Guevara, an anti-imperialist leader, is in.
Tolerance – Tolerance is the mind-set that requires you to assume that every way of living is as good as every other way of living. Thus, if a woman has X number of kids by Y number of men, none of whom she troubled herself to get to know all that well, much less marry, we must accept this in the name of “tolerance” of a “non-traditional lifestyle.” (Indeed, we are required not merely to tolerate it but foot the bill). If you are rude enough to point out that the kids who come into the world this way are much more likely to be poorly educated, not to mention abused by the next boyfriend, you are “intolerant.” In bygone days, “tolerance” had a different meaning, to wit, an open attitude of good faith toward socially benevolent behavior and beliefs even if different from your own, but that view is now held principally by old fogies.
Verbal violence – Verbal violence is a statement a liberal doesn’t like but has trouble refuting analytically. Thus, if you say that hard-edged feminism is at odds with traditional families — the kind in which children usually do best — this is “verbal violence” against women, and you have to sit in the corner (or sit out the next semester, or attend the sensitivity class, etc.).
In future blogs, I’ll attempt to provide more entries in the Dictionary, and of course contributions from readers are welcome.