Bruce Burleson – May 14, 2017

Donald Trump famously proclaimed in a presidential debate: “I don’t have time for political correctness.”  Then-candidate Trump had fallen under intense criticism for stating that perhaps, in the name of national security, it was time to at least temporarily exclude Muslims from entry into the United States.  One could argue that it is Trump’s refusal to bow to political correctness that has fueled many of the protests and riots we have seen spread across the country.


Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines “politically correct” as “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.”


In short, if we utilize that textbook definition, political correctness is the belief that we should never say or do anything that could offend someone who is somehow different than we are.  Indeed, definitions of “hate speech” reflect this.  Today’s social justice warriors more or less treat any behavior, language, or set of ideas that runs contrary to their ideology as “hate speech.”


I would expand upon the Mirriam-Webster definition, as today political correctness has become a full-throated assault on our Constitutional right to free expression, as outlined in the First Amendment.  In fact, political correctness is, in essence, a virus that infects the mind, the public consciousness, the media, and social institutions, particularly higher education.


Political correctness emerged from the 1960s, originally as a reaction to traditional uses of language.  Some of it made sense at the outset; for example, use of the word “nigger” was increasingly frowned upon, and continues to be today.  I myself do not use the word, not because it might offend others, but because I find it intellectually repulsive.  Interestingly, the word is commonly used by young black people in conversation with each other.  But if anyone else uses it, it’s viewed as “racist.”


Why?  Because it’s not just about language.  Political correctness gradually took on overtones of Marxism—the belief that society is divided into opposing interests and that one class of people inevitably oppresses another.  Many today refer to political correctness as “cultural Marxism” because it has expanded beyond the scope of social class, and now affects conversations about race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.


So instead of just being “people,” we are defined by skin color, gender, and sexual orientation—all of which are considered “oppressed.”  By whom?  Straight, white males.  And yet there is little evidence of this in today’s society, at least in terms of “discrimination,” as one can easily find women, gays, lesbians, and people of a wide variety of racial backgrounds working in our companies, government agencies, and in the media.  In other words, oppression as defined by the campus thought police doesn’t really exist in any real form—except as a form of ideology.


Take for example the common belief that society is characterized by “institutionalized racism.”  Is there any evidence to support that claim?  I once heard a professor argue that racism is “woven into the fabric of society.”  (But what exactly is the “fabric of society?”)


While there is no doubt that racist individuals certainly exist, institutionalized white-on-black racism is gone.  The term may have applied in the days of slavery or Jim Crow, but there is no evidence it exists anymore, at least not in the form we once knew.  That said, many argue that policies such as affirmative action—which often gives preference in hiring situations to minorities—is a form of racism as it constitutes preference of one race over another.  If institutional racism can still be said to exist, it takes that form, not the forms described by the media and leftist academics.


And yet, if you wander onto any college campus and tell people, “There is no such thing as institutionalized racism, except for affirmative action,” guess what the response is?  “You’re a racist!”


Western civilization as a whole has moved beyond the antiquated belief that one race is somehow superior to another.  But despite that, there are groups on campuses today arguing for renewed segregation, such as separate dorms for blacks!  In fact, Harvard University plans a separate graduation for black students.  The reasoning?  Well, racism.  It makes zero sense, but even the most venerated institutions of higher learning are falling prey to regressive racial programming, ironically in the name of being “inclusive” or “culturally sensitive.”


What is happening is that cultural Marxism is replacing critical thought.  The search for truth, which any rational individual would define as a collection of proven facts, has been usurped by an ideology of division in which we’re not supposed to say or do anything that might criticize any of the “oppressed” groups.  There is hypocrisy built into this ideology, as apparently it’s still okay to systematically insult and denigrate the culture of the 73% of Americans who happen not to be “minorities.”  To listen to today’s college professors and social justice warriors, one might get the impression that it’s okay to be anything but white.  But if you point that out to them, you’re immediately labeled a “white supremacist.”


The search for what is, has been replaced with the search for what ought to be.  Realism and the scientific method are disappearing in the face of an irrational idealism lacking any mechanism for establishing the factual validity of arguments.


And while political correctness defines victimization across racial, sexual, or gender-identity lines, the real victim is Western civilization itself.  Armed with political correctness and collectivist ideology, today’s “social justice warriors” rail against capitalism and Judeo-Christian values—the foundations upon which Western civilization is built.  In fact, Islam is now increasingly seen by these pseudo-intellectuals as a viable alternative to civilization as we know it.


It used to be that political correctness was merely an annoyance to conservatives—something that made us roll our eyes at the Thanksgiving dinner table when politics inevitably came up and someone said something “offensive.”  And when I was in college, you could still bring a conservative speaker onto campus without facing violent, hateful mobs.


Not anymore.  Political correctness is now not just a reaction to language that leftists don’t like.  It’s an all-encompassing ideology found in virtually every corner of academia, the media and even government.  It even infects public safety.  A case in point: the San Bernardino terrorists would have been exposed prior to committing their atrocity had their next-door neighbors not been afraid to be seen as “offending” Muslims.


Ultimately the epicenter of political correctness is the college campus.  That is where our young minds increasingly turn into misshapen ghosts of what we once thought the mind ought to be—a tool for learning.  But what are college students “learning” today?  The danger of “microaggressions” and the need for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.”  It is actually detrimental to teach college students any of this because, from a factual (and politically incorrect) perspective, the world is not a safe space.


Because campuses are Command Central of cultural Marxist ideology and politically correct indoctrination, returning America to common sense and a genuine inquiry into truth will require reform of higher education.  It’s time to allow conservatives to be professors again, and not just at the University of Chicago.  How do we get there?  It begins with seizing control of the purse strings.  All campuses require money to operate, and a lot of that money comes in the form of research and tuition grants.  Perhaps it is time for those funds to come with strings attached:  Either allow a free atmosphere of inquiry and expression of competing ideas, or the money will dry up.


Countering the ravaging effects of political correctness also requires a new free speech movement.  When people use free speech to argue from a basis of facts and reason, or at least to require others to use facts to back up their arguments, truth eventually emerges as the winner.  In the presence of actual truth there is no room for cognitive dissonance.  Lies cannot occupy the same space as truth.


Either we get rid of political correctness or ultimately we will witness the death of Western civilization as we know it.  Will one set of ideas reign supreme while those opposed to it are silenced? The choice is up to us.