April 18, 2006


A SECULAR RELIGION WITHOUT HOPE: Political Correctness Is Doomed (Philip E. Devine, May 1995, New Oxford Review)

Understanding PC requires understanding the social position of its adherents. Yes, one can make too much of the elite credentials of PC people: Pat Robertson, like President Clinton, has a law degree from Yale. But PC remains the outlook of those who consider themselves, and to some extent are considered by others, the most sophisticated element in American culture.

PC people are not only an elite, but an extraordinarily disconnected one. They are disconnected, first, from the larger society; second, from the past; and, third, from any hope for the future.

First, PC people hate and fear the majority of Americans. Racial minorities are of course accepted, but only so long as they play their assigned political part. Black people are allowed a greater license than white people -- e.g., they are allowed to be moderately serious about their religious beliefs. But a black person whose views are outside the acceptable range will cause PC people to "go ballistic."

Second, for people who presumably are well educated, PC people are remarkably hostile to attempts to remedy the historical illiteracy of the rising generation. More importantly, they do not draw on any tradition of even moderate duration. Their intellectual forbears (and sometimes their earlier selves) drew upon a wide range of sources, ranging from Marxism to Social Gospel Protestantism, and including secular progressivism, Rerum Novarum Catholicism, and the teachings of the Hebrew prophets. But all of these sources are regarded, in PC circles, as hopelessly "phallogocentric."

Third, PC people are disconnected from the future. The members of the PC world are more likely than the general population to be childless, though since many of them work in education this does not have as much importance as it would otherwise. More important than literal childlessness is their lack of a way of life that they might hope to transmit. Their position is one of negation: Down with Western culture! Down with Big Daddy in the Sky! But you can't raise your metaphorical children (i.e., your students) on negations, let alone your real children.

All of us live in a rapidly changing world which often seems increasingly difficult to understand. Few there be who propose to make adjustment to change any easier. Even professed conservatives enthusiastically support a capitalist economy whose most conspicuous feature is the promotion of technological change, and whose capacity to disrupt communities by destroying their economic base is well known. For these reasons, the PC constituency has an extraordinary need for affirmation and conformity, for "clinging together against the dark" in Richard Rorty's phrase -- hence their obsession with "insensitivity." Even the smallest details of life are subject to PC oversight: I know a PC person who objected to calling John Paul II the Pope, on the entirely fanciful ground that Coptic Christians, about whom he knew nothing, might object. Hence the most conspicuous feature of PC people: their fondness for denouncing (and shunning) real or supposed racists, sexists, and homophobes. All religions are to some degree intolerant, but for the PC the hurling of anathemas is a virtual sacrament.

Note that political correctness proceeds from exactly the same source as xenophobia, insecurity.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 18, 2006 8:03 AM

"I hate political correctness because it's founded on the idea that by means of language you can escape truth--that if you simply give a different name to something you've somehow changed it. It is a very childlike idea."--P.J. O'Rourke

But with a very adult purpose; to pre-emptively silence dissent. And to assert Leftist dogma as the norm when it is not.

Posted by: Noel at April 18, 2006 12:40 PM

Read this, an Angry Leftist's first-person account of the horrors of sending her 5-year old to what appears, from her account, a perfectly good public school in a perfectly decent community--one which utterly failed her test of political correctness.

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 18, 2006 12:50 PM

The PC crowd also assumes a smug moral superiority that holds not only their own beliefs as being the "higher' truth, even if it means lying to get at those truths, but gives them free reign to engage in their own decidedly un-PC behavior towards folks like Clarence Thomas or Condi Rice when they decide it's necessary to do so.

Posted by: John at April 18, 2006 12:54 PM

Mike Morley

That is no ordinary angry leftist, but one who said

"I would be happy to give him a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs."

Posted by: h-man at April 18, 2006 2:56 PM

I thought that name was passing familiar.

Posted by: Mike Morley at April 18, 2006 7:25 PM