A good quote from Theodore Dalrymple on political correctness:
“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is...in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”
In the past, conservatives lashed out against political correctness. Recently right-wing tactics have changed. We have taken to calling left-wing opponents racist whenever they have mis-stepped in the increasingly hazardous minefield of racial politics, basically applying Alinsky’s Rule #4:
The fourth rule is: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”
On the face of it, this is a good tactic. Watching liberals hoisted up on their own petard is good, clean fun. Bad rules don’t change if there is a large interest group who doesn’t feel their pain.
Still, there is a great danger in this tactic, the danger that conservatives get comfortable with the PC truncheon. Instead of,
“[Liberal X] is a racist because he said [phrase that can be interpreted by paranoid PC antiracist hunters to sort-of mean something racist],”
“What [liberal X] said is not racist. In the past several decades we have allowed the rule of Political Correctness to twist innocent comments into career-ending outbursts of racism. [Liberal X] is not a member of the KKK and he is not a National Socialist [notice I said National Socialist, not Nazi]. Therefore he is not a racist. I think it is time to give people the benefit of the doubt, and also to begin respecting freedom of speech again.”
Isn’t this line better? It is at the same time both more overtly high-minded, in that you are rallying to the defence of your opponent, while being more subversive, in that you are directly attacking the principles of the PC-head.
And you still get too see liberal X twist in the wind as he tries to simultaneously explain how a) he is not racist, and b) there is nothing wrong with today’s PC-based anti-racism standards.