VIRTUE IN A JACKBOOT: Anthony Browne on Political Correctness
(Anthony Browne is the chief political correspondent for The Times Of London and author of the book “Do We Need Mass Immigration?”)
Anthony Brownes “The Retreat of Reason-Political Correctness and the Corruption of Debate in Modern Britain” is just one of a long litany of books written about the scourge of the new McCarthyism that has seized control of every important institution in the Anglophone world. Nevertheless, the subject is of such critical importance that it deserves re-iteration. Brownes polemic is argued concisely and persuasively. While his examples are primarily British, people in Canada, Australia and the U.S. will quickly recognize the sickness he describes.
Political correctness (PC) has been defined as a neo-puritanism that attempts to save souls through assigning taboo or “disease” status to a real discussion of ideas such as immigration. People can avoid “infection” by obeying the taboo and either not participating in or preventing a thoughtful exchange of views on such topics. For Browne, it is simply an ideology that classifies certain groups of people as victims in need of protection from criticism, and which makes believers feel that no dissent should be toleratedThere are few as intolerant as those who preach tolerance; people who transgress politically correct beliefs are not seen just as wrong, … but evil,… to be condemned, silenced and spurned.
Browne itemizes numerous hallmarks of PC: guilt by association, ad hominem attacks, support of censorship, according high status to victim-hood, taking offence, lack of humour, etc. Some deserve emphasis. On liberal guilt, he says: The combination of Western guilt and fear of racism has all but killed off the public concern about overpopulation in the last few decades. In the U.S., when population growth was caused by white people having too many babies, the countrys largest environment group, the Sierra Club, campaigned to control population. But now that U.S. population growth is mainly caused by immigration, it has dropped all policies on population, and indeed its funding is dependent on never trying to tackle the immigration issue.
And of course, the PC have adopted double standards. Ever wonder why it is illegal now in many jurisdictions to publish crime figures broken down by the ethnicity of the offender, but that universities collect racial data to determine who gets in and to ensure that visible minorities get hired? Or that police “gender profiling… that targets men is perfectly acceptable, while racial profiling which targets blacks is not?
In regards to preferential hiring, Brownes book could have profited from the use of a flagrant Canadian example of positive discrimination(i.e., reverse racism and sexism). As the National Post reported on June 27, 2005, the so-called shortfall of qualified applicants to the RCMP academy was due to its gender and racial hiring quotas that required white males to score 20% higher than women and 33% higher than visible minorities on aptitude tests in order to be accepted. For a while in the mid-90's, with unmet racial and female recruitment targets co-existing with a five year backlog of Caucasian male applicants, the RCMP had a quiet no white males policy.
Browne observes that PC has fuelled a huge industry of charities and pressure groups that promote (with little opposition) the PC world-view; are fed by public taxes; and are given endless uncritical air-time by the BBC. On the other hand, an organization like Migration Watch, which campaigns for less immigration to Britain, a position that has 80% public support, enjoys no taxpayer money and is almost totally blackballed by the BBC.
British groups, whose policy aims might call for a politically incorrect solution, usually bury that solution. For example, The Council for the Protection of Rural England campaigns against house building in the countryside, but it would never dare tackle one of the main, and most easily tackled, causes in the growth in housing demand: mass immigration.
For Browne, shutting down debate to defend taboo policies does not end problems, but causes them to fester and grow to explosive proportions. The Netherlands has turned from one of the most socially cohesive countries in the world to one where Muslim and non-Muslim communities live in fear of each otherpolitical correctness undermined the functioning of its liberal democracy to such an extent that it was no longer able to debate and tackle serious and growing problems until the tensions were so great in society that they exploded.
Even one of Brownes critics, Nick Cohen of “The Evening Standard”, conceded that the BBC fails to cover some inconvenient views, like those of African intellectuals who denounce the West for trying to assist Africa with development aid that merely lines the pockets of corrupt leaders. Consequently, the full debate over African aid never takes place. What Robert Fulford said of the CBC is apparently true of the BBC as well. It is a herd of independent thinkers. Browne would add, Britains tabloids, so hated by the left, have actually been the torch-bearers for the truth by daring to write deeply uncomfortable things that others refuse to.
When the media acts to insulate government from public opinion by filtering out forbidden thoughts, government policy becomes unilateral and fundamentally undemocratic. Despite the governments official (and the BBCs unofficial) policy of promoting mass immigration, opinion polls show 80 per cent of British think there is too much immigration. In almost all western countries, political correctness has undermined democracys ability to reflect public concern on this issue. As Australian author and academic Geoffrey Blainey remarked in “All for Australia”, immigration policy should not be bi-partisan (government and opposition party), it should be tri-partisan. The people should have a voice in its framing.
Brownes argument can best be summarized in one sentence. Political correctness promotes the creation of a victim mentality, discourages people from taking responsibility for their own lives, suppresses free speech, and distorts public debate, leading to bad policies being adopted.
Browne has some prescriptions to defeat PC. Free speech could be protected with something like the U.S.'s First Amendment. Also, direct democracy-citizen initiatives would allow the citizenry to impose its will on the ruling class. He leaves his most important recommendation, however, to the last. It is a point that needs elaboration and warrants greater prominence than he has given in his book: The emotional root of PC must also be challenged. PC is founded on western guilt and self-loathing, which can be countered by more objective teaching of history and western values. Foundations can be set up to preserve and promote Western heritage and values.
Alan Bloom in his “Closing of the American Mind” described how western self-loathing began. He argues that European nihilism planted itself in American colleges giving birth to cultural relativism and its contempt for Western civilization and Western values, a process epitomized by a student chant at Stanford, Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Civ has got to go!. Cultural relativism (every culture is of equal merit) and a byproduct, the notion that host cultures should adapt to immigrants (rather than the logical opposite), is the philosophical foundation of multiculturalism, now the code word for mass immigration. History courses are designed to induce shame rather than pride in our forefathers so that we may become self-flagellating penitents willing to see high immigration from aggrieved cultures as redress for our so-called collective past crimes.
For me, PC began when New Left guru Herbert Marcuse spoke at Simon Fraser University in 1969 and quoted from his infamous essay “Repressive Tolerance”. In it, Marcuse promoted the withdrawing of freedom of speech and assembly from all groups and movements which promote chauvinism, discrimination or oppose the extension of public services, social security or medicine. In 1969, my student colleagues clapped enthusiastically.
It is sobering that what began as an appeal for free speech at Berkeley in the sixties has ended with an equally fervent appeal by the Left for the imposition of censorship (at the University of Michigan), said Roger Kimball in “Tenured Radicals”.
The difference between the classes I experienced in the late 60s and the ones that followed a generation later is this: The students who
supported the withdrawal of freedom of speech in my generation are teaching now. They are the tenured radicals that Roger Kimball wrote about. Efforts to dismantle the traditional curriculum and institutionalize radical feminism, to ban politically unacceptable speech.now typically issue from the deans office or faculty Senate, not from students marching in the streets.
And if the students of the late 60's and 70's did not stay on to become faculty, they became media editors, broadcasters (CBC and private), and union harassment officers. Somewhat as in the Sci Fi movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, these pods were all incubated and indoctrinated at university, then sent out to occupy positions of influence and power. They look human, but they think like “pods”, giving conditioned responses couched in PC Newspeak.
Ironically, universities are the boot camps for political correctness. Whereas you arrive at an army camp a wimp, and emerge eight weeks later a soldier, you arrive at university uninformed, and emerge four years later misinformed. As Tammy Bruce said in “The New Thought Police”, It is much easier to prep them in the closed environment of the academy, so that once they enter the real world, they will accept totalitarianism as if it were a regular, everyday part of life.
We must confront and root out political correctness in its lair. We must return free thought to the universities and colleges. Thats where the rot starts.
Political correctness is a new form of dictatorship, imposed by the self-righteous. It is virtue in a jackboot, lodged in the faces of all those who dare to challenge prevailing doctrine, particularly on immigration. It is an undemocratic societal poison so pervasive that it must be neutralized before it destroys democracy itself.
Merely by speaking out, Anthony Browne and others like him are providing an antidote.