Rand Richards Cooper on PC
The novelist Rand Richards Cooper has recently published an article titled "Political Correctness" (Commonweal, September 1, 2015) to explain it to folks who don't know what it means:
The m.o. [- modus operandi, the usual way of doing things -] on today's campuses, at least among the humanities, features the elevation of group identity politics, with a special focus on oppression, and the use of academic discourses to apply an analysis of systemic power relations to individual interactions and (especially) utterances. The goal seems to be to cleanse public discourse, and even campus itself, of anything ideologically adverse . . . . [There have been] disinvitations of Condi Rice, Christine Lagarde, George Will and others as campus speakers. When I was at college, we eagerly invited speakers whose ideologies we were hostile to (Antonin Scalia, Cal Thomas, etc), and then debated them. Christine Lagarde is the head of an organization whose workings are central to the global economy. The student group whose protests led her to withdraw blamed her for "the strengthening of imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide." That doesn't sound like an attitude of eagerness for inquiry.Cooper's right, of course, and he's explained political correctness perfectly. He's even endured it:
People seem to be spending a good deal of time waiting for other people to transgress, so that they can pounce. When I was visiting writer at an elite liberal arts college I published a fictional narrative with a black man as the protagonist (I am white). I was assailed by a progressive political scientist (also white) for my "audacity" in presuming to inhabit the point of view of the African-American underclass; he cheerfully skewered the story as an act of cultural and political appropriation. These tropes are common.I've tolerated political correctness at times, for much of it is about courtesy, but when it suppresses free speech, the time is right to fight back hard.