Everything’s a Problem, the satirical blog written by Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon, has some fun going into faux-outrage mode over “Calling People ‘Guys,'” and quotes as his “problematic” example, David Gelernter’s March 2008 article in the Weekly Standard on “Feminism and the English Language,” in which Gelernter writes:
How can I teach my students to write decently when the English language has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Academic-Industrial Complex? Our language used to belong to all its speakers and readers and writers. But in the 1970s and ’80s, arrogant ideologues began recasting English into heavy artillery to defend the borders of the New Feminist state. In consequence we have all got used to sentences where puffed-up words like “chairperson” and “humankind” strut and preen, where he-or-she’s keep bashing into surrounding phrases like bumper cars and related deformities blossom like blisters; they are all markers of an epoch-making victory of propaganda over common sense.
We have allowed ideologues to pocket a priceless property and walk away with it. Today, as college students and full-fledged young English teachers emerge from the feminist incubator in which they have spent their whole lives, this victory of brainless ideology is on the brink of becoming institutionalized. If we mean to put things right, we can’t wait much longer.
Our ability to write and read good, clear English connects us to one another and to our common past. The prime rule of writing is to keep it simple, concrete, concise. Shakespeare’s most perfect phrases are miraculously simple and terse. (“Thou art the thing itself.” “A plague o’ both your houses.” “Can one desire too much of a good thing?”) The young Jane Austen is praised by her descendants for having written “pure simple English.” Meanwhile, in everyday prose, a word with useless syllables or a sentence with useless words is a house fancied-up with fake dormers and chimneys. It is ugly and boring and cheap, and impossible to take seriously.
As I said, that was from early 2008. Flash-forward to six years of Hopenchange and the growing influence of the socialist justice warriors, as in this example, as spotted by Kathy Shaidle earlier this week, of a cri de coeur at Medium.com titled “Social Justice Bullies: The Authoritarianism of Millennial Social Justice,” written by someone who describes himself as possessing a “liberal heart,” and who “grew up in a liberal town, learned US history from a capital-S Socialist, and/or went to one of the most liberal universities in the country,” but, like Jonathan Chait of New York magazine, apparently thought he’d be devoured last by the revolution:
[M]illennials are grown up now — and they’re angry. As children, they were told that they could be anything, do anything, and that they were special. As adults, they have formed a unique brand of Identity Politics wherein the groups with which one identifies is paramount. With such a strong narrative that focuses on which group one belongs to, there has been an increasing balkanization of identities. In an attempt to be open-minded toward other groups and to address social justice issues through a lens of intersectionality, clear and distinct lines have been drawn between people. One’s words and actions are inextricable from one’s identities. For example: this is not an article, but an article written by a straight, white, middle-class (etc.) male (and for this reason will be discounted by many on account of how my privilege blinds me — more on this later).
* * * * * * * *
The Newspeak of the millennial social justice advocate is an intricately and powerfully designed mechanism that seeks to eradicate and socially criminalize dissent.
Let’s talk about racism. The mantra of the movement is thus: It is impossible to be racist against white people because racism is the equivalent of prejudice and power. Since white people have social and economic institutional power and privilege (in America), those who are racially oppressed cannot be racist toward whites since those who are racially oppressed do not have power.
Why can’t I simply rebut this with a trip to the dictionary? Because this is laughed at by social justice types. The image of a white person walking to the dictionary to define racism is literally a trope at this point because the millennial social justice advocate finds it so entertaining that a dictionary, constructed by those in power for those who speak the language of power, can possibly give an accurate definition of a word. [It’s a link to a Website called DiversityInc (sic) titled, “Ask the White Guy: Is the Oxford Dictionary Definition of Racism Too White for You?” — Ed]
Do you see where I’m going with this? It is now possible to absolve yourself of guilt by working enough academic nuance into a word to fundamentally change it — in your favor.
You’re never going to change the mind of someone this far gone; but there are ways to, as a wise president once said, “punch back twice as hard,” which we’ll explore right after the page break.
I think Kurt Schlichter had the best response to the madness of the SJWs, when he wrote at Townhall last year, “I Checked My Privilege, And It’s Doing Just Fine”:
The proper response to the privilege gambit is laughter. The super-serious zealots of progressivism hate being laughed at, but there’s really no other appropriate response outside of a stream of obscenities. The privilege game is designed to circumvent arguments based on reason and facts and evidence, so the way to win it is to defeat it on its own terms.
Call: “Check your privilege!”
Response: “What you call ‘privilege’ is just me being better than you.”
They won’t like it. It will make them angry. Good. Because tactics like “Check your privilege” are designed to make us angry, to put us off-balance, to baffle us and suck us down into a rabbit hole of leftist jargon and progressive stupidity.
Don’t follow them. Mock them. Accuse them of adhering to a transphobic cisnormative paradigm and start shrieking “Hate crime!”
Don’t worry about not making sense. They’re college students. They are used to not understanding what people smarter than they are tell them.
Respectful argument should be reserved for those who respect the concept of argument. The sulky sophomores who babble about privilege do not. They only understand power. And we give them power when we give their nonsense the respect we would give a coherent argument.
They deserve only laughter. And to laugh at them, we simply need to refuse to be intimidated.
One of the reasons why the left have moved on to threatening to burn down midwestern pizza parlors over gay marriage doubleplus ungood crimethink is that they’ve exhausted the concept of racism. Starting in 2008, everyone, from Joe Biden to Hillary and Bill Clinton to Geraldine Ferraro to John McCain to Mitt Romney, could be dubbed a racist in order to clear a path for Barack Obama. Racism used to mean something; being dubbed a racist meant the next stop was network Siberia for Howard Cosell and Jimmy the Greek in the 1980s. Today, anybody can be weaponized by the term — but if everyone is a racist, then no one is. Which is why the phrase “That’s racist!!!!” has become a gag line, much to the outrage-obsessed left’s chagrin, as Jonah Goldberg wrote in 2011:
No, racism hasn’t vanished. And the legacy of racism still has a long half-life.
But the simple fact is “that’s racist” is the sort of thing those darn kids today say to make fun of their aging Gen X and baby boomer parents.
It’s also a common joke among conservatives, precisely because we’re used to being called racists for the weirdest things. If I write on Twitter something about how I don’t like “Obamacare,” some fellow right-winger will immediately respond with some variant of “that’s racist!”
And that’s the joke. And the people who’ve spent the last few decades screaming, “That’s racist,” not as a punch line but as a heinously unfair accusation or in an attempt to bully people, don’t seem to get that the joke is on them.
I feel badly for the young Socialist Justice Warriors; their brains have to live within the hellish construct they’ve built for themselves. But I feel worse for the grownups — really, there are a few left — who have to work with them:
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Related: Schlichter spots the end game for all of this madness.