Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Edsall: Trump, Obama And The Assault On Political Correctness (and: What Is Political Correctness?)

This is ok.
   The comments are pretty lame, though. It seems as if nearly every other one is of the "Political correctness???  What does that even mean???" variety. This is a ploy usually used by liberals of the "no enemies on the left" variety. It's little more than a hollow gesture, a generic bit of semantic obfuscation. Trump and the other GOP candidates might use the term in an overly-expansive way in order to paint ordinary liberals with the same brush... But ignoring that, anyone who's honest and paying attention knows what political correctness is. Roughly and off the top of my head: it's the largely campus-and-internet-based movement that advocates illiberal leftist positions and policies--e.g. speech codes, "de-platforming" of insufficiently leftist speakers, harassment and shaming of dissenters, etc. It's characterized by its association with a cluster of bad ideas from Continental philosophy--postmodernism, post-structuralism, critical theory, etc.--and by its passion for inaccurate, quasi-technical terminology ("differently abled," "person of color," "microaggression," "de-platforming," etc.). Pretending that we don't know what 'political correctness' means is dishonest and futile. We can use the terms "campus left," "illiberal left," "regressive left," "social justice warriors," or whatever you like. But what we're talking about is the extremist leftist movement that showed up in the late '80's and early '90's, and that is back again now. When we talk about PCs, we're talking about the people who, for example, tried to stop Germaine Greer from speaking at Warwick because she (like well over 99% of the population) does not believe that "transwomen" are actually women. We're talking about the Princeton student shrieking about Halloween costumes, the Mizzou students and professors assaulting a photographer for entering their self-declared "safe space," the Wesleyan students who cut funding for the student paper after it ran a politically incorrect editorial... "I don't know what 'political correctness' means" is not an objection to anti-PC arguments, it's a profession of ignorance. Ignorance is usually excusable, and can be remedied by, for example, reading. The only real problem with the relevant professions is that they masquerade as objections. But "I don't know what x is" is not a reason for rejecting cogent arguments against x.


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