By Norman Rogers at American Thinker
Is there a bigger collection conformist drones than the tenured professorate of American universities? Tenured professors have lifetime guarantees of employment granted for the specific reason of protecting them from retaliation when they speak out on controversial subjects. Yet they are, by and large, terrified of even minor transgressions of progressive orthodoxy, otherwise known as political correctness. Granted, they do have reason to be afraid of stepping over politically correct lines. They won’t be paraded through the campus with a dunce cap while being pelted with rotten eggs, but they can be shunned, tried in a kangaroo court or fired. Universities may have totalitarian impulses, but they don’t have the enforcement tools that real totalitarians have. Harvard doesn’t have a forced labor camp in the forests of Maine. If a small percentage of professors stood up against political correctness it would melt away very quickly.
Political correctness is defined by dictionary.com as “marked by or adhering to a typically progressive orthodoxy on issues involving especially ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or ecology.” For example, if you want to be politically correct, you cannot use ethnic or gender stereotypes, or suggest that gay marriage is a bad idea. When Larry Summers, then the president of Harvard University, timidly suggested as a hypothesis to explain the underrepresentation of women at the highest levels of mathematics that women may perform less well in math than men, he was quickly out of a job. Suggesting that men and woman are emotionally or intellectually different is prohibited by political correctness. If a mob of young blacks attack pedestrians, or robs a store, in the politically correct media they become unruly teenagers of no particular race. If you criticize the computer models that predict a global warming disaster you are depicted as an ignorant climate denier.
The website of the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education contains numerous case studies of professors and students whose rights have been trampled because they stumbled on a political correctness land mine. For example, Professor John McAdams at Marquette University was abruptly suspended and prohibited from entering the campus because he dared to suggest in a personal blog that it was ok to discuss the pros and cons of gay marriage in a class. Some things cannot be discussed because that would imply that there are legitimate differences of opinion about the issue.
If you want to intimidate people it is better to make the rules of behavior vague. That way they cannot defend themselves because it is never clear what the charges are. An example of vague rules is this gem from San Jose State University:
“Any form of activity, whether covert or overt, that creates a significantly uncomfortable, threatening, or harassing environment for any UHS resident or guest will be handled judicially and may be grounds for immediate disciplinary action, revocation of the Housing License Agreement, and criminal prosecution. The conduct does not have to be intended to harass. The conduct is evaluated from the complainant’s perspective.”
Under this standard, anyone who says much of anything can be disciplined if he authorities don’t like him. Rather than rules of behavior, the standard of bad behavior is whatever the person who complains says it is.
Global warming/ climate change is a field rich with hypocrisy and intimidation. The global warming alarmists believe that a climate disaster is imminent because we are burning fossil fuels and increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The official scientific backing for this thesis comes from the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC. The IPCC is a politicized organization that should have zero credibility. The extensive lying and misrepresentations of the IPCC have been documented in the book: The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert. Numerous scientists have bitterly denounced the IPCC. The Norwegian politicians, who often award peace prizes to cut throats and frauds, gave a shared peace prize to the IPPC and Al Gore.
Punishment for political incorrectness violations is not evenly applied. Big shots with the right politics can get away with a lot without getting in trouble. The recently dismissed head of the IPCC, the Indian railroad engineer, Rajendra Pachauri, is a hilarious example. Pachauri wrote a soft porn novel that was published 5 years ago (“…caressing her voluptuous breasts. He felt very excited…”). The star of the novel was an elderly important person, much like Dr. Pachauri. More recently the 74 year-old Pachauri was accused of indecent behavior by various young women who worked for an institute in India that he headed. That, apparently, was too much and resulted in his dismissal (or forced resignation) from the IPCC. No doubt, global warming believers will assert that the fact that the head of the IPCC authored porn novels and that he pestered women young enough to be his grandchildren for sex, does not reflect negatively on the “scientific” conclusions of the IPCC.
Pachauri’s activities show recklessness and entitlement. Most senior citizens do not aggressively solicit sex from much younger women in their workplace. Why wouldn’t Pachauri’s personality characteristics also infect his approach to the scientific work of the IPCC? Pachauri has made many extreme statements critical of those who dare to question global warming. For example he said that climate skeptics should “apply asbestos to their faces every day.” Perhaps the young women he was pestering would suggest he apply asbestos to a different part of his anatomy. (As with global warming, the dangers of asbestos have been exaggerated.)
The heavy hand of political correctness is not limited to higher education and governmental agencies. In the politically correct media, single mothers are always hard working and devoted to the welfare of their children. Poor people are victims of circumstance who are earnestly trying to overcome the barriers to self improvement erected by the system or by the Republicans. It is politically incorrect to suggest that criminals, or down and out people, bear some responsibility for their plight. That is because, according to the progressive agenda, these people are blameless and only suffer from a lack of government help that would be provided if only more Democrats were elected.
Accusations of racism play a prominent role in the world of political correctness. If you were to suggest that many south of the border illegal immigrants are poorly educated and have weak English skills, you are opposing the progressive agenda to bring in illegals, grant them citizenship and thus get more political support for progressive policies from first and second generation immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic. By making any discussion of the qualification of illegal immigrants be politically incorrect racist talk, the progressives shut up potential opposition to their scheme. Timid Republicans cave on the immigration issue because they fear accusations of racism.
A serious discussion of the state of black America is impossible because there is only one politically correct answer, namely that black people are oppressed by white racism. It is in the interest of the Democratic Party to keep blacks in an agitated state of dependency because without the monolithic black vote, the party would lose much of its political base. If the black minority became better educated and more prosperous, many blacks would drift away from the Democratic Party. Thus, a race agitator like Al Sharpton is placed on a pedestal by Democrat politicians. He is a frequent visitor at the White House.
Exploitation of race cuts both ways. In the South, over whelming majorities of whites vote Republican, presumably because they see the Democrats as being the party of the black minority. If the Democrats overdo the racism card they run the danger that whites in the North will increasingly abandon the party as they have in the now solid Republican South. Political correctness serves as a barrier to the exploitation of white resentment of blacks and white fear of blacks. In many Northern cities there has been an increase in racial attacks by blacks on whites. These instances, that would be big news if the races were reversed, are systematically covered up the media, including conservative media, because the media fear crossing political correctness lines. The journalist Colin Flaherty has documented much of this black on white violence in the American Thinker.
In my experience personal relations between people of different racial and ethnic groups are generally cordial. In most places police exhibit a high degree of professionalism. The Obama administration has consistently tried to inflame racial hatred by accusing police of abusing blacks and by treating defensive shootings of blacks by whites as if they were lynchings. Obviously the administration is trying to shore up its political support in the black community. The danger for the progressive left is that they will alienate white Democrats and even begin to look dishonest to the black voter base. Michael Brown, shot by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, has to be one of the least convincing victims in civil rights history. He was, of course, caught on video behaving as a nasty thug robbing a small business. The Obama administration contributed to the controversy by publishing a report accusing the Ferguson Police Department of racism.
Americans are very used to minorities speaking different languages and practicing different cultural traditions. Generally we are so accustomed to this that we don’t pay much attention. We take it for granted that these minority groups will be assimilated into the American mainstream in 1, 2 or 3 generations. In special circumstances it may take longer, as with the descendants of the former slaves. Often some of the cultural traditions of a minority become part of American mainstream culture. Of course there are clashes and often people keep their distance from minority neighborhoods. But it is not helpful for the government or the progressive political groups to try to inflame intergroup hatred for political advantage, and then to impose political correctness to prevent honest discussion of problems that may arise.