Friday, February 8, 2019

Political Correctness: No Statute of Limitations

From The National Review:
The American university is the place where political correctness flourishes more than any other. Diversity is currently one of the leading goals of the contemporary university, except in the realm of opinion and point of view. Speakers with heterodox views, should these views even faintly smell of the politically incorrect, are there shouted down by students confident they have right on their side, and are rarely censured by their professors for doing so. In the university anything outside the realm of the politically correct is held to be dangerous, unsafe, and the First Amendment exists in theory only. The university in its homogeneity of outlook has become the utopia dreamt of by political correctness made flesh. 
Political correctness itself originated in the generation of student revolutionaries of the mid 1960s. Thinking themselves victims, they honored the victim above all and made victimhood a form of secular sainthood. The chief victims were African Americans, Hispanics, gays and lesbians — later, Islamics. Among other minorities, Asian Americans and Jews, not so much. 
Many of these ’60s students remained in the university as professors, and by the 1980s and ’90s were in positions of power there. The contemporary university is where bad ideas find a second life — a second and, thanks to tenure, lengthy life. Where else in but in English and History departments in American universities will one still find Marxists? Where but there are so many subjects politicized? Fortunately no way has been found to teach feminist physics or Hispanic chemistry or gay engineering, or the university would be an entirely worthless enterprise. 
In going along with the program of political correctness, the university has greatly helped spread its doctrines beyond its politically correct confines. I recently complained to a friend still teaching at Northwestern University, where I taught for thirty years, about the waste entailed in hiring an associate provost for diversity, at a salary I take to be around $200,000 a year. My friend, more knowledgeable than I about these matters, replied that without an associate provost for diversity on the staff the university might not qualify for federal funds for science projects. One wonders where would the federal bureaucrats would get such ideas, but then remembers that they, too, attended university. Politicians, when it serves their purposes, of course readily avail themselves of all the politically correct gambits. Thus do the tentacles of political correctness reach out beyond the university itself. 
Rare is the university professor of the current day who is ready to speak out against political correctness. My own experience of this conformity bred of want of courage was when, in the middle 1990s, I was fired owing to political correctness from the job of editor of Phi Beta Kappa’s quarterly magazine The American Scholar. With the exception of the historian Eugen Weber, the vote to fire me among the all-academic senator of Phi Beta Kappa was, I am told, unanimous. As for the reason for my being fired, it had nothing to do with politics, since I made it a point to clear the journal’s pages of all contemporary political content, but to do with my not running any articles in the journal on the subjects of feminism or African-American Studies — in other words, political correctness. I didn’t do so because I received no articles on these subjects that seemed of any genuine interest. I sought such articles from a few members of the Phi Beta Kappa Senate itself, with the proviso that I wasn’t interested in the clichés on the subject and hoped for work that went beyond standard victimology. None were forthcoming. I was, then, replaced as editor, given, in the best slow-motion academic fashion, two years to clean out my desk. 
Political correctness rears up everywhere in the business of the university. To find a commencement ceremony of a major university that does not provide honorary degrees for a few women and African-Americans would not be an easy task. The grandson of a friend of mine, a brilliant student who has mastered Chinese, showed up for a Rhodes Scholarship interview to discover that a dozen women were also being interviewed for the same scholarship and knew his goose was cooked. (Read more.)
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3 comments:

Helen D said...

What if you're a feminist majoring in Arabic?

elena maria vidal said...

What about it? Lots of military people study Arabic.

Helen D said...

I,meant it in irony.