The Holy Cross Knights will no longer be known as such. Word has it that to be a knight is now offensive. Someone should inform the Caped Crusader that being a Dark Knight makes him a hate monger who supports Christian violence against Muslims. The college announced on Thursday it would drop its Knight mascot and related imagery to avoid ties to the violence committed by Christian armies during the Crusades.
The Massachusetts school’s president, Rev. Philip Boroughs, said in a letter to students that “the visual depiction of a knight, in conjunction with the moniker Crusader, inevitably ties us directly to the reality of the religious wars and the violence of the Crusades.”
There was also an ad by Australian beer company, Rusty Yak, that was forced to be taken down because it offended people with red hair. My sister is a ginger and she personally thought it was hilarious— but I suppose there is a chance that some lucky bastard out there with the unique and frankly gorgeous mane of hair would not have countenanced such an “attack” on their looks. Full disclosure, I am jealous. I’ve always wanted to be a red head.
A Brief History of Political Correctness
The buzz words first appeared as a pejorative tossed around between neo-cons and liberals in the early 1990’s. Politically Correct. The left calls it a tactic of the right —to “feign courage when choosing not to give up lechery and racism.” I read that this week in another Op/Ed and I cringed. The same Op/Ed suggested Americans should replace the words Political Correctness with Conscience and then it would make more sense why attacking the very idea of PC culture is wrong and hateful.
The article also slogged on through a thick layer of its own smugness to blame PC shaming on Donald Trump. Now I’ve heard it all. Trump is officially responsible for every single thing that happens anymore— good, bad and worse. Except that being irritated about having to bow to PC norms has been around my entire adult life, when most people outside of New York City had no idea who Trump even was.
It’s common to hear the right complain about PC and the left complain about the complaint about PC. Meanwhile, those of us who live in reality— that huge swath of people existing somewhere in the middle— we just want to be free to say what we truly believe and have the same courtesy given to us. Courtesy. It’s a funny word. PC makes itself the courtesy police because in defending it, you often hear it is based in the importance of “empathy” or “protecting marginalized people.” It is a nice attempt at appealing to emotion, but there is something far more sinister at work here.
Let’s take a look at the history of PC which actually predates even the Clinton years.
Professor Frank Ellis at the University of Sheffield noted the term political correctness was first used in the late 19th to the early 20th century when Vladimir Lenin began his rise to power. Ellis said that Marxist-Leninists and Maoists placed a heavy preeminence on being ideologically correct, both politically and theoretically. Essentially, a “forum for discussion,” as Ellis described it, would impede the revolutionary spirit needed to upend the social order.
You read that correctly, political correctness was born out of a communist, socialist desire to control free speech and encourage “right thinking.” Perhaps PC culture is more widely accepted today because communism is more widely accepted today. The frog has been boiling in that pot of water for far too long.
In 20th century Europe, the Frankfurt School of critical theory was born in Germany. Author William Lind noted, that it was the intellectuals who believed culture needed to be rooted out before it could be replaced by a Marxist one. Two Marxist theorists, Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary, independently came up with the same answer. They said that Western culture and the Christian religion had so “blinded” the working class to its true (Marxist) class interests that Communism was impossible in the West until traditional culture and Christianity were destroyed. Their solitary goal was to destroy old ways of thinking. In other words, they were progressive thinking. Progressive always sounds good because it implies moving forward. But at the expense of what?
While the right tends to adhere itself to rule of law and tradition, the left champions egalitarianism. It all sounds good on paper. It truly does. But to date, no country that has attempted to make such a Utopia has succeeded and millions upon millions have died to conduct such political and social experiments. Just ask the starving masses currently at each other’s throats to simply survive the day in Venezuela. And in advance of a rebuttal, the Nordic model is not some outlier example of a raging socialist success. In short, the Scandinavian countries are not socialist. Or Democratic Socialist if you prefer that Bernie buzzword.
In the Scandinavian countries, like all other developed nations, the means of production are primarily owned by private individuals, not the community or the government, and resources are allocated to their respective uses by the market, not government or community planning.
While it is true that the Scandinavian countries provide things like a generous social safety net and universal healthcare, an extensive welfare state is not the same thing as socialism. What Sanders and his supporters confuse as socialism is actually social democracy, a system in which the government aims to promote the public welfare through heavy taxation and spending, within the framework of a capitalist economy. This is what the Scandinavians practice.
Even the Prime Minister of Denmark acknowledged the difference saying “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”
But I digress, as I tend to do.
So where were we? Ah yes, the roots of PC culture in America. Critical theory made its way across the pond and took root in the 1950s and 1960s, when Herbert Marcuse translated the work of the other Frankfurt School thinkers into books college students could understand, such as Eros and Civilization, which became the Bible of the New Left in the 1960s. The idea was there, seething underneath in the shadows but finally gained widespread prominence in the early 1990’s when it was packaged and sold as the tolerant and compassionate way to speak to and about our fellow man. Wait, I’m sorry, saying man is not politically correct of me because it leaves out women. But then women spelled that way still carries the men within it. Perhaps I should say, the compassionate way to speak about our fellow human kind? Unless that leaves out the animals…I give up.
And you get the point.
So that’s the dirty secret of the PC movement. It’s Marxist. But calling it Marxist is not palatable to the average American so we dress it up as something else entirely. The late great George Carlin probably said it best when he now famously explained that political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners. Now I appreciate the fascism and Marxism exist at opposite poles on the political spectrum but I think most would agree we would prefer to live in neither of those worlds.
Why do I abhor political correctness? Not because I am some far right leaning hate-filled racist, sexist, homophobe. In fact I couldn’t be farther from those things. I abhor it because we are being systematically conditioned to get offended at everything these days. And if we are offended at everything, we cease to recognize those things with which we should truly be offended. People become enraged every day about things they read online, hear in the news, or witness on social media—about topics ranging from the words people use to gender politics, race, sports teams, body image, parenting styles. And on it goes. I realized that whether it be in articles, videos, conversations, or comments online, this was becoming a collective norm.
We are systematically being taught NOT to consider someone’s else’s feelings by ALWAYS considering someone else’s feelings. Rather than ban something or someone that we find offensive, why not preach real tolerance? Why not use that experience to understand why someone may say or do the things they do or question why it bothers us in the first place? Instead of looking at the deeper question and choosing to understand, we’re being taught simply to react and tell people they are right or wrong. Which in essence… changes nothing. Free speech and thought is fraught with dangers because some chucklehead is bound to say something rude or hurtful. It’s unavoidable. But having to second guess every single thought we may have, stifles any creativity and passion we may truly feel. It prevents us from being thoughtful for fear of not being, well, thoughtful. Such a horrible catch 22.
So what comes next I have to wonder? Should all sports teams just throw in the towel and be known as The Green Bay Football Team? Or the Cleveland Baseball Team? I didn’t use the Browns because that would have been the Cleveland Not Really A Football Team. (Just kidding Dog Pound – don’t send me hate mail – I know y’all are tough enough to take a joke) But seriously, I didn’t mean to offend you.
And see … that’s how it begins.
Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia