We usually complain about Political Correctness only when somebody on our side falls afoul of it. See here for instances in this regard, where I defended people on the ‘cultural right’. But Political Correctness is an evil regardless of whether it hurts the right or the left. Therefore, one is doing a disservice to cause of free speech by remaining silent when the truncheon of the PC Thought Police happens to crack the head of somebody on the other side.
In this spirit I defend the black radical, left-wing filmmaker Spike Lee. Apparently Mr. Lee is exorcised by the fact that the hipsterification of Brooklyn is turning the corner of Brooklyn where he grew up white. Some people were upset by his comments:
‘What’s really bothering Lee is that he doesn’t like seeing his old neighborhood full of white people, which makes him historical detritus.’
‘I’m sure the first reaction by a hipster or out of town gentrifier to Spike’s rant is “he’s racist”. He isn’t. He is specifically talking about hipsters; smug wannabe creative-type, gentrifying hipsters and yupsters who are trying to live upper class lives in working class neighborhoods. Sure New York is always changing – but this last decade’s hipster invasion has made the change too drastic; unfair to normal working families and young natives trying to live and work in the places they grew up; this does not just mean “black neighborhoods”.’
While I don’t know which version more accurately reflects Spike Lee’s mental state more accurately, let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that Time Magazine has a better read on his thoughts. Would he still be guilty of Thought Crime?
By present day conventions, no doubt he is. But should he be?
I argue no.
Because the division of people between “us” and “them” is one of the most natural instincts people the world over possess. This is why the current predilection of labeling this instinct as a form of mental illness - i.e. ‘xenophobia’ - is really dumb. When you criminalize everyday thoughts, or classify them as mental illnesses (the way the Soviet Union did), all you do is turn ordinary people into law-breakers. This is always the end result of socialism, and make no mistake about it, Political Correctness is the tip of the socialist spear.
But, I hear you say, can’t this kind of talk lead to violence, riots, apartheid and pogroms?
Why yes it can.
So what do you say about that?
If you see a racial demagogue like Al Sharpton whipping up the crowd the way he did at Crown Heights or in front of Freddie’s Fashion Mart, call me. At that point I will stand beside you in condemning the act. But until then, I will just call it for what it is: somebody just expressing his personal opinion about something he doesn’t like.
But what, I hear you say again, would I say if the races were reversed, and it was a white person ranting about a neighbourhood turning black?
Same logic applies. When it is nothing more than an opinion expressed, then I stand with Voltaire when he said, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it.” But if it escalates to a KKK lynch mob, I will add my voice to yours in calling for federal troops.
Violence and incitements to violence is one thing, but if you can’t express you honest opinions anymore without fear of repercussions, then you aren’t living in the land of the free or the home of the brave any more.