Favorite

Send your daughters to A&M 

This just in: "Study Finds Fruitcake Right, Anti-gravity Left Share Similar Traits, Tactics."

OK, so I made that up, although I'm confident that there's no end of psychological studies confirming the observation. Have you ever known somebody who did a 180-degree ideological switcheroo, say from the Progressive Labor Party to the Ayn Rand Marching and Chowder Society? Were they less dogmatic and morally superior afterward?

Not hardly. There's a reason religious people are leery of converts. In my own tradition, "holier than the Pope" is one way to express it.

So anyway, New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait recently caused an uproar on the left by pointing out how many sanctimonious, puritanical progressives "attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate."

Particularly on college campuses, this isn't news. A single example will suffice: "A theater group at Mount Holyoke College recently announced it would no longer put on 'The Vagina Monologues' in part because the material excludes women without vaginas."

Seriously, people, send your daughters to Texas A&M. Encourage them to study engineering. It's long been this way on fashionable campuses. Things show no sign of improving. If they'd canceled 'The Vagina Monologues' for witless vulgarity, the Mount Holyoke campus would have gone up in smoke. Armed convoys would have arrived from Northhampton and Amherst.

Indeed, I'd advise any ambitious youth to avoid the Omphalic Studies wing of the university altogether in favor of subject-matter disciplines where competence brings respect, if not a lifetime guarantee against bigots and fools. Devoting one's entire academic career to the minute dissection and magnification of every imaginable ethnic and gender grievance can lead to a kind of auto-paralysis that can take years to overcome.

But I digress. Chait's broader point is that "political correctness," a hackneyed term everybody nevertheless understands, has made inroads into the broader political culture via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

"And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate," Chait worries "the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary ... . [It] has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular."

I don't know from "psychic space," but he's correct that campus culture warriors sneer at liberal pieties like free expression exactly as doctrinaire Marxists once did.

One immediate result is that friends of Chait's, such as feminist author Hannah Rosin, who offended militant Soldier Sisters over some damn thing, have found themselves so bruised by Twitter-based insult campaigns that they've fled the medium. "The price is too high," she explained "You feel like there might be banishment waiting for you."

Sounds like junior high, no?

Two responses: One, hurt feelings didn't prevent Rosin from playing a critical role in the takedown of the recent Rolling Stone-University of Virginia rape hoax. So I think she can handle herself.

Two, it comes with the territory. Every death threat I've gotten has come from demented "Christian" right-wingers. I once had to start unplugging the bedroom phone to prevent my wife from talking to a guy who'd call after midnight from a phone booth outside a liquor store to say he was coming to kill me and rape her. She'd pick up the receiver worried something had happened to our sons.

The police assured me that anonymous callers are cowards who never show up. But they did trace the calls.

To me, anybody intimidated by cant terms like "mansplaining," "whitesplaining," "straightsplaining," etc. must not have much to say anyway. So MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry called you racist. Boo-hoo-hoo. A list of public figures she hasn't charged with bigotry would be shorter. For that matter, I disagree with Justice Clarence Thomas on just about every topic but one: the baleful effect of ethnic groupthink on African-American life.

It's amazing how many responses to Chait were exactly the kind of ad hominem name-calling he criticized. Apparently, they can't help themselves. Slate's J. Bryan Lowder mocks "the whining of an out-of-touch white guy." To Gawker's Alex Pareene, he's a "sad white man" and "petulant man-baby."

Salon's Joan Walsh plays mind-reader, speculating that the author "has been wounded personally." She thinks he needs proper instruction in "his own racial subjectivity, and privilege."

I expect she thinks I do, too, and you, Dear Reader, as well.

In America, that's always a losing argument. As Chait observes, "Politics in a democracy is still based on getting people to agree with you, not making them afraid to disagree."

But the real damage isn't to opinionated loudmouths like Chait and me. Ordinary Americans are repelled by humorless dogmatism. Most would prefer to have race and gender play a smaller, rather than larger, role in their lives. Some are even naive enough to resent being called racist, sexist, etc. when they're trying hard not to be.

If that's what they think progressivism is, they'll want no part of it.

Favorite

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Him, again

    Now that President Trump has brought us peace in our time, can we all get back to stoning Bill Clinton? Because no Christian doctrine is so universally ignored among the influential tribe of Pundit-Americans as Jesus' admonition against sexual self-righteousness: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7)
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • Above the law

    So this is what Republican "conservatives" prating about limited government have brought us: an authoritarian cult of personality, the braggart crybaby in the White House insisting he's above the law.
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • On Philip Roth

    The recent death of Philip Roth, America's greatest living novelist, came as shock. Although he was 85, and had written movingly of his failing health, the strength of his voice never faltered. "Old age isn't a battle," Roth wrote in his 2007 novel "Everyman." "Old age is a massacre."
    • May 31, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Him, again

    Now that President Trump has brought us peace in our time, can we all get back to stoning Bill Clinton? Because no Christian doctrine is so universally ignored among the influential tribe of Pundit-Americans as Jesus' admonition against sexual self-righteousness: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7)
    • Jun 14, 2018
  • Above the law

    So this is what Republican "conservatives" prating about limited government have brought us: an authoritarian cult of personality, the braggart crybaby in the White House insisting he's above the law.
    • Jun 7, 2018
  • On Philip Roth

    The recent death of Philip Roth, America's greatest living novelist, came as shock. Although he was 85, and had written movingly of his failing health, the strength of his voice never faltered. "Old age isn't a battle," Roth wrote in his 2007 novel "Everyman." "Old age is a massacre."
    • May 31, 2018
  • More »

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Him, again

    • That's why it is better to bag babes at the bigger libraries. You get a…

    • on June 20, 2018
  • Re: Legislative boodlers

    • The U6 unemployment rate is still at 8%, partly because they can get benefits and…

    • on June 19, 2018
  • Re: Him, again

    • Regardless of my success or lack of it, I've been way ahead of Trump all…

    • on June 19, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation