If the media circus surrounding the election cycle of 2008 reminded us of anything, it was that the real battle in this country is not between different parties or different ideas, but between people with an unapologetic will to power and those who have lost their will to take a stand. And while the divide between those with a will to power and those who have lost their will is often party-specific, the lesson rises above parties by calling our attention to academia, culture, and politics as a whole, where political correctness fetters a once-strong citizenry and contributes to their demise.
Political correctness is a façade constructed in opposition to reality and sold as “tolerance.” Because of this, its purveyors are given to moral relevance and all who reject it are branded as “intolerant.” When properly implemented, it stifles our ability to think clearly.
Perhaps nothing epitomized this better than Reuters’ post 9/11 refusal to use the word “terrorist” in reporting the news of terrorists blowing up buildings, themselves, and others in acts of terror. Steven Jukes, Reuters global head of news, defended the refusal thus: “We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word ‘terrorist.’ To be frank, it adds little to call the attack on the World Trade Center a terrorist attack.”
I have just one question here: If we can’t speak the truth about terrorists determined to destroy our children, our culture and ourselves, when can we speak truth? (The politically correct response here is “what is truth?”)
We must understand that a major tenet of political correctness is that there is nothing more wrong than the act of pointing out what is wrong. Political correctness is understandably hostile to facts and its followers quite intolerant of anyone who refuses to budge on the fact that absolutes exist; for the rejection of absolutes is a most convenient way to open discussions about “the non-existence of God” in university classrooms throughout the country.
This is not to insinuate that the problem is only in university classrooms. Political correctness reigns supreme throughout our educational system. This why men like John Adams, the second president of the United States, are almost wholly unknown to generations of students, for it was Adams who said: “Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may your wishes, your inclinations, or the dictates of your passions, they cannot change the state of facts and evidence.” To this a tenured, politically correct university professor says: “Adams was an intolerant white, slave owner” and suddenly any student who has read Adams on his own or watched David McCullough’s special on him is ashamed to admit it.
This is the power of political correctness in the hands of those who know how to use it — it literally silences opposition. And this brings us to a second point: political correctness is not just a façade sold as tolerance, but a way to heave guilt upon soft consciences, thereby stagnating courage and the free exchange of ideas. Anyone with their eyes halfway open saw this same tactic used again and again through the past election cycle.
When push came to shove in the last few weeks of the recent elections and the polls made it look like Barack Obama was having a hard time closing the deal against John McCain, Democrat Congressman Jack Murtha accused his own constituents of being “rednecks” who “still have a problem voting for someone because [that someone] is black.” His words were then complimented by a chorus of 24-hour news commentators who asked whether we’d “progressed” far enough in this country to vote for an “African American?” While these provocative questions were being asked by astute thinkers along the lines of Keith Olbermann, Ted Kopel released his film, “The Last Lynching: How Far Have We Come?” just weeks before the presidential elections.
These were all appeals to what Shelby Steele calls “white guilt,” and they were effectively used in an unabashed attempt to shame us into keeping our minds and our mouths shut over the obvious threat Obama poses to our nation.
In light of such tactics it seems that the greatest lesson we need to learn about political correctness is that it’s a yoke we take upon ourselves by allowing the words of others to shame us into silence or inaction. And no one demonstrated this for us more clearly in last election cycle than McCain.
When the North Carolina Republican Party ran an ad which showed Obama’s pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, standing behind the pulpit saying, “Not God bless America, but God damn America,” McCain cried foul and asked that the ad be pulled. Why did he do this? Was the ad inaccurate or false? No. It was the actual footage of Obama’s actual pastor saying those exact words. But McCain said the ad should be pulled because he wanted to run “a respectful campaign” and “be the candidate of everybody.”
Note to Senator McCain: To stand for everything (or everybody) is to stand for nobody. You bought into the false promises of political correctness and were rewarded with the opportunity to give a concession speech instead of an inaugural address.
When McCain demonstrated his “respectful campaign” by pressuring members of his own party to pull ads that raised legitimate concerns about his opponent’s associations, the Obama campaign saw weakness and knew they could spew falsehoods with impunity from that point forward. “Big Mac” was not going to call anyone on the carpet. (It was quite evident who had the will to power and who had lost their will to stand.)
So where do we go from here? We must return to the path of true conservatism rather than continue down the road of quasi-conservatism that our Leftist plantation owners have allowed us to travel to this point. And while returning to our roots, we must remember that political correctness is a debilitating disease, a cancer, that has stolen not only our courage but innumerable elections by making us too weak to fight and too unwilling to care.
Perhaps by thinking about what it’s taken from us, we’ll learn to hate it enough to rid ourselves of it.
*Appeared on HUMANEVENTS.COM, November 21, 2008