ED081497a: The Real Meaning of "PC"

COMMENTARY Political Process

ED081497a: The Real Meaning of "PC"

Aug 14th, 1997 2 min read
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.


Edwin J. Feulner is the founder and president of The Heritage Foundation.

By now, we've all had our laughs at the expense of the gurus of political correctness (PC), who spend their days goose-stepping through the English language, removing everything that might offend this or that "oppressed" group and replacing it with mindless gobbledygook. For example, in their bizarre nomenclature I'm a melanin impoverished, genetically oppressive, visually and horizontally challenged non-female. In plain English: I'm an overweight white guy with glasses.

While these absurd descriptions may be good for a laugh, the logic behind them is sinister, and incites campus clashes you won't find so funny.

The Young America's Foundation recently published its politically correct top 10 list from college campuses. While the list contains amusing examples of the left's defunct view of reality, it also describes some tragic and shocking events on our nation's college campuses. Many of the examples are too graphic and offensive to repeat.

At Dartmouth, administrators have been intimidated into believing Christmas carols must not include any mention of Christ. After years of performing at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the school's glee club was told to sing on their own time. Why? Because their musical program included songs like "Silent Night" and "O Come all Ye Faithful." Upon questioning, administrators said they didn't think such songs created an atmosphere in which "persons of all faiths and non-religious persons would feel welcome." Apparently, only such inspirational songs like "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" are permissible at this center of higher learning.

At Swarthmore College, freshman English courses no longer focus on the classics of William Shakespeare, John Milton or Charles Dickens. Instead, students read "Memories That Smell Like Gasoline." No, this isn't a book about a high-school junior pumping gas for the summer. Instead this "classic," as administrators called it, is a sex book, richly illustrated with drawings depicting homosexual group sex and child molestation.

If you think the PC movement is only concerned with the songs that are sung on campus and the books that are read in the classroom, think again. Across the country, college newspapers are being attacked solely because of their political orientation. More than 100 student-run-and-written conservative newspapers have had editions burned or stolen from their racks or have been otherwise vandalized in the last four years because of their content.

When the Cornell Review, the conservative student newspaper at the upstate New York Ivy League school, published a satirical look at the Africana Department's course descriptions phrased in "Ebonics" (the "ghetto talk" exalted as language), left-wing students rioted. They blocked a campus intersection and burned editions of the student paper.

The students of the politically correct left were never reprimanded by university officials. In fact, far from denouncing this violation of free speech, the dean of students said the Cornell Review "performed a negative role on campus," and if an article offends people then it should not be tolerated. Can you imagine the national scandal if conservative students had similarly burned a left-wing publication, or made such blatantly anti-First-Amendment statements?

What's going on at American college campuses goes far beyond burning newspapers and boycotting Christmas. In a "PC" world, you only have the right to one opinion: theirs. If you don't agree, you are immediately labeled "insensitive" and become a fair target, even for physical attack. And the people who revel in this gender-neutral, multi-cultural, lock-step mindset do so in the name of tolerance!

Next time you hear someone make a joke about the verbal somersaults required by political correctness, set the record straight: The PCers don't just want you to talk their way. They mean to stop you from talking any other way.

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Note: Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. is president of The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based public policy research institute. Additional information about The Heritage Foundation can be found on the World Wide Web (www.heritage.org).