Paula Deen, Phil Robertson and Justine Sacco. What else is there to say about the mass insanity that grips the West and especially the USA?
For readers in normal countries who may not have heard, these are individuals whose politically incorrect remarks have prompted public crucifixion. Interestingly, Deen and Sacco apologized on all fours, and it didn’t help Deen and does not appear to be helping Sacco (Robertson is not at all apologetic, and he may be the only one of the three to survive).
Mark Steyn has done a great job in documenting the new Age of Intolerance:
I’m not interested in living in a world where we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells. If it’s a choice between having celebrity chefs who admit to having used the N-word in 1977 (or 1965, or 1948, or whenever the hell it was) and reality-show duck-hunters who quote Corinthians and Alec Baldwin bawling out some worthless paparazzo who’s doorstepping his family with a “homophobic” slur, or having all of them banished from public life and thousands upon millions more too cowed and craven to speak lest the same fate befall them, I’ll take the former any day.
I’m familiar myself with the phenomenon of the embarrassed silence that ensues after I say something that my audience judges to be racist, sexist, homophobic, disablist (yes, it really is a word) or, unsurprisingly, Islamophobic. It is no defense for me to say that I support gay marriage and often give non-disabled people parking in disabled-only spots a seriously hard time. It isn’t how you act, it’s the combination — as Steyn makes clear — of how you talk and who you are.
The phenomenon of black rappers who are allowed to say ‘nigger’ (a lot) has been much discussed, and of course Sarah Silverman is permitted to say anything. I think this is because of who is the arbiter of what is allowed and what is forbidden, which is to say the academic and media elites, which is to say, The Left. They find Silverman amusing, and black rappers threatening. But let a white southerner like Deen, an evangelical Christian ‘redneck’ like Robertson, or a nobody like Sacco break one of the taboos and the gloves come off. Violators are ostracized, lose status and influence, and sometimes jobs and livelihoods.
Think about it: in what is supposedly the freest, most open society in the world, where the Constitution prevents the authorities from interfering with the obscene antics of the Westboro Baptist Church, there is an unofficial but fiercely enforced taboo on certain kinds of speech, managed by an unelected establishment that makes itself judge, jury and executioner.
Now here is what is really bothering me about all of this. Political correctness is more than a limitation on speech; it is an attempt to control thought.
If you think this is an exaggeration, look at the situation in the very belly of the beast, the academic world. Here students learn that opposing the received wisdom, a form of 1960s-style anti-Americanism and idealization of ‘oppressed’, indigenous, and third-world cultures — which, ironically, was promulgated then by the ‘liberal’ KGB — will get them poor grades. Some don’t care, some are naturally rebellious so they become counter-revolutionaries, but most go along with the flow. The ones that stay in school the longest are the ones that learn to work with the system, not to challenge it. They are the ones who in turn become faculty members.
There is much more to it than just an exaggerated concern for the sensitivities of particular groups. There is a whole belief system. In the politically correct universe, it is forbidden to talk about differences between ethnic groups or genders, even though it’s obvious, statistically, that there are such differences. It is forbidden to say that some cultures are morally superior to others, even though some despise murder and others glorify it. It is believed that certain groups are entitled to employ violence “to obtain their rights” while others are not entitled to defend themselves (the decision about which groups are which is made by the academic and media elite).
In that world it is believed that, on the one hand, conflict would disappear if the various groups, tribes, etc. would make an effort to fully understand their enemies. There are only misunderstandings in PC land, not real conflicting objectives. But at the same time, when electing or appointing officials, it is insisted that only a candidate of the same race/ethnicity/gender/linguistic group can understand the needs of his or her people (regarding ‘linguistic group’: don’t get me started on the meaninglessness of ‘Hispanic’)!
Out there, everyone is divided into two groups. One is ‘people of color’ (which doesn’t include Ethiopian Israeli Jews, who are about as ‘colored’ as you can get), indigenous peoples (which does not include Jews in the Middle East), ‘formerly colonized peoples’ (which doesn’t include Americans, Israeli Jews or Irish Protestants, but does include all Arabs everywhere and Irish Catholics), etc. The other group is called ‘Europeans’, ‘colonizers’, ‘whites’, and so forth. The PC universe sympathizes with the former and despises the latter.
The three victims I mentioned at the start of this post were all punished for being insensitive to sympathetic groups — African-Americans, gays, and either black Africans or AIDS sufferers or both (I’m not totally sure) — while belonging to an unsympathetic one.
All of this would be amusing if it didn’t have concrete negative consequences for the less-favored groups, like working-class ‘non-Hispanic white’ applicants to universities, or Israeli Jews.