Political Correctness and the Thought Police
A look at the origins of the movement to expunge words and thoughts from modern life.
November 1, 2010 - 12:00 am
It’s hard to define political correctness, but like pornography, you know it when you see it. Some say it is a social philosophy that strives to ensure nobody will ever be offended by anything, ever. Wikipedia defines it as a term which “denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, disability, and age-related contexts.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities — as in matters of sex or race — should be eliminated.” No matter what you call it, one thing is certain. For decades now, the perceived orthodoxy of political correctness has been eating away at the institutions which have made America great — precisely as it was intended to.
Long-time liberal Juan Williams was recently fired from his position with National Public Radio for saying what many Americans think. “When I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous,” Juan said on Fox News. Never mind that Juan was simply admitting to a personal feeling he has experienced in a post-9/11 world, it cost him his job. Being afraid of Muslims on a plane is perhaps a bit ridiculous, as clearly most Muslims are not terrorists. But some are. Most pit bulls don’t attack when you pet them either, but that doesn’t mean you’re not cautious around them. It’s hard to tell the good ones from the bad ones, until it’s too late. And is Williams’ nervousness any more ridiculous than a fear of flying — the safest form of travel known to man? I agree with very little that Juan Williams has to say, but I will defend to the death his right to say it without fear of the Political Correctness Gestapo kicking in his door.
Juan’s comment was not much different than when Jesse Jackson said, “There is nothing more painful to me … than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Jesse, of course, was merely admitting the same politically incorrect truth President Obama volunteered years later on March 18, 2008, about his own white grandmother who he claims once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street. The Thought Police are merely the latest tool in the left’s assault on free speech and free minds. And once you learn and understand the origin of political correctness, you realize it is a powerful and effective tool being used to fundamentally transform America — one worthy of resisting.
My earliest memories of this social cancer in its earliest stages was when I was admonished by one of my law school professors that airline stewardesses and stewards were properly called “flight attendants.” Shortly thereafter, I recall being admonished for referring to African-Americans as “blacks.” Indians became Native Americans. The crippled became disabled, midgets became little people, and the retarded became mentally ill. Frankly, I think being called “ill” would be the more offensive choice here, but that is just the political correctness in me.
Proponents of political correctness argue that they wish to bring unconscious biases into awareness, allowing us to make a more informed choice about our language and making us aware of things different people might find offensive. The year 2010 A.D. has become 2010 C.E. and “bias guidelines” now govern what will be in our children’s textbooks.
The language police literally ban even the mere vocalizing of certain words — even words which sound like the forbidden words. Despite its common, non-racist use today in both literature and pop culture, Dr. Laura Schlessinger was forced to publicly apologize for a non-offense reference to the “N-word.” Shortly thereafter she resigned and ended her 35-year long radio career, saying, “I want to regain my First Amendment rights.”
Any utterance of the word “whore” is apparently banned now, too, after Democrat Jerry Brown and a staffer used it in reference to California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. It is now simply the “W-word.” I guess what Jerry Brown truly meant to say was “comfort woman.” After the disgrace of what happened to Juan Williams, we apparently also have the “M-word.” Also banned is the “F-word” referring to homosexuals. We’re quickly running out of letters.
Entire lexicons have been forced into retirement. The term “gay” has been hijacked from the English language. The word “fairy” can no longer be used to refer to a petite airborne humanoid with mystical powers. White trash is still referred to as white trash, however. Washington, D.C.’s black mayor, Anthony Williams, gladly accepted the resignation of his white staff member, David Howard, because Mr. Howard uttered the word “niggardly” in a private staff discussion about funding. Dallas city officials have apparently also removed the term “black hole” from permissible use after Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield found himself guilty of talking while white. Mayfield observed that the bureaucracy “has become a black hole” for lost paperwork, whereupon fellow Commissioner John Wiley Price took great offense, shouting, “Excuse me!” That office, the black commissioner explained, has become a “white hole.” Seizing on the outrage, Judge Thomas Jones demanded that Mayfield apologize for the “racially insensitive analogy.”
I refuse to believe that Native Americans could legitimately take offense at the name “warriors,” or that they have cornered the market on a word used by the Greeks, Romans, Africans, and Germans to describe courageous soldiers. The word refers to anybody who fights with courage and strength — from cancer patients to the Marines. But sure enough, when I returned home to Wisconsin after practicing law in Houston for 20 years, the Marquette Warriors had been forced to change their name.
As is usually the case, however, it wasn’t the Native American people who were complaining about the sports team names or mascots. It was a handful of liberal activists, mostly non-Native Americans. In 2002, the Peter Harris Research Group conducted a poll asking if high school and college teams should stop using Indian nicknames. Eighty-one percent of Native American respondents said “no” and 83% said teams should not stop using Indian nicknames, mascots, characters, and symbols. The poll also found that 75% of Native Americans don’t think the use of these team names and mascots “contributes to discrimination.” But now we have the Marquette Golden Eagles — a bird which tears apart young martens, foxes, marmots, rabbits, and mice, and even scavenges off of dead animal carcasses in the road during the winter months. Enter PETA.
Political correctness seems harmless enough at first glance. After all, it simply seeks to avoid offending certain segments of our society, right? It is seemingly just a few innocent code words: tolerance, social justice, economic justice, peace, reproductive rights, sex education and safe sex, safe schools, inclusion, diversity, and sensitivity. While I have no doubt that many liberals genuinely think policing our words and thoughts helps lift society in some well-intentioned way, the origins of political correctness acutely reveal that it is actually a powerful tool for those wishing to divide our country and destroy the America we know.
In 1923, followers of György Lukács and other Marxists joined forces with the Communist Party of Germany to establish the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt. When the Nazis came to power in Germany, the members of the Frankfurt School fled. Most came to the United States and many became influential in American universities. The Frankfurt School’s studies combined Marxist analysis with Freudian psychoanalysis to form the basis of what became known as “critical theory” — destructive criticism of the main elements of Western culture, including Christianity, capitalism, authority, the family, patriarchy, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual restraint, loyalty, patriotism, nationalism, heredity, ethnocentrism, convention, and conservatism. Sound familiar? It should. It’s the Democratic Party platform.
Lukács instituted a radical sex education program in Hungarian schools. Hungarian children were instructed in free love, sexual intercourse, the archaic nature of middle-class family codes, the out-datedness of monogamy, and the irrelevance of religion, which deprives man of all pleasures. Women, too, were called to rebel against the sexual mores of the time. Lukacs’ advocating of “cultural terrorism” was the precursor of what would later become known as political correctness — the most powerful tool of the American Left.
These critical theorists knew that traditional American beliefs and the existing social structure would have to be destroyed and substituted with a “new thinking” that would become as much a part of basic social consciousness as the old one had been. Their theories took hold during the 1960s, when the Vietnam War opened raw nerves and created an opportunity for infiltration. In stepped political correctness and its hidden agenda. Over the years it grew, and now even the most fundamentalist of conservatives among us kowtow to the Thought Police.
Today, if you say out loud that giving condoms to middle school students is a bad idea, you are labeled a religious zealot. If you utter the once-assumed truth that marriage should be between a man and a woman, you are homophobic. If you agree with the Arizona immigration law, you are considered a bigot. Nobody likes to be called these names. So many people simply give up and remain reticent — silent out of fear of “offending” a vocal minority and as evidence of how “tolerant” they really are. Like dutiful frogs sitting in the proverbial pot of water, the temperature keeps rising, and we keep sitting there. If you can get the opposition to silence itself, you are half way to victory. The comprehensive and detailed control of all ideas, beliefs, and statements is one of the signature features of all totalitarian regimes.
Far too many Americans have forgotten the lesson they learned as children about sticks and stones. In a country overly sensitive about far too many things, where people are offended at the slightest joke or benign comment, political correctness is accomplishing its goal — not the stated purpose of protecting people from hurt feelings, but a much more insidious purpose: the silencing of political opposition and free speech.
It’s time to recognize political correctness for what it is: a tool of those wishing to destroy America and a doctrine which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd from the clean end.