Friday, November 13, 2015

Concern troll alert! Political Correctness, Aaaa-iiii!!!

"This is an editorial for my fellow liberals."

That's usually a sign of "concern control troll advice ahead." That is the first sentence of Matt Rozsa's Liberals Should Be Deeply Disturbed by Political Correctness Craze Sweeping College Campuses 11/11/2015.

Conservatives are always upset by black people protesting against white racism. And by college students protesting against anything, unless they're demonstrating against abortion or for gun proliferation. So when black college students at various places starting demonstrating against white racism, conservatives start sounding the alarm. And since the FOXists always want to scold the Mean Libruls for being big ole hypocrites, the demands start popping up for the Mean Libruls to have "Sistah Souljah" moments in which they denounce the unruly Negroes for being black and uppity.

And any liberal that gullible enough to fall into the trap will then face demands to denounce more convincingly. That's the way the game is played. (See MoveOn, General Betray Us ad, 2007)

Like most things in politics, the current round is not entirely new, it's just happening now. After the 1988 elections in which Old Man Bush smeared his way to victory over the admittedly rather hapless Michael Dukakis, there were several years of similar concern-troll demands around the deadly danger of "political correctness" on campus. Then as now, when people talked about "political correctness," the speaker usually meant things the speaker considered politically INcorrect. An interesting case of words taking on an opposite meaning.

The FOX/Limbaugh/Republican Party idea of Political Correctness is opposed by what art critic Robert Hughes called Patriotic Correctness in his book, Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America (1993). There are always fad ideas and trend to be criticized. But the idea of Anti-Political Correctness singled out feminists and efforts to combat white racism for particular criticism. For the Christian Right, the notion that Political Correctness aimed at persecuting conservative white Christians by advocacy for abortion rights or LGBT rights was always part of the mix.

Also part of the anti-Political Correctness whining is the notion that it's not billionaire capitalists like the Koch Brothers who constitute the ruling elite, or ruling class if you prefer, in the United States. But rather it's "Hollywood" (i.e., TV, movies and Jews) and college professors who control the country and exercise a borderline reign of terror against good Christian white folks who are the Real Americans. It's a fantastic construction. But if you want to have One Percenters like Mitt Romney to be able to pass for advocates of the Real Americans while advocating only policies that favor the very wealthiest, you have to create some alternative reality to frame that posture.

It also gives conservatives defending white racism, segregation and voter suppression, discrimination against women, police brutality and general authoritarianism a way to posture as brave truth-tellers standing up against the tyranny of Political Correctness.

If there's enough money behind it, you can make this into a useful political ideology, as one can see any day atd any hour on FOX News.

To see a pearl-clutching version that more-or-less echoes the conservative hissy-fit, you can check out this piece by Conor Friedersdorf, who seems to have adopted this as a pet theme: Campus Activists Weaponize ‘Safe Space’ The Atlantic 11/10/2015.

A more practical-minded but still narrow view on the same incident on which Friedersdorf focuses comes from Will Bunch in College campuses aren't supposed to be intellectually safe. They need to be intellectually dangerous Attytood 11/11/2015.

Glenn Reynolds, aka, the Ole Perfesser, weighs in with what he probably thinks is clever snark to piss off Mean Libruls in After Yale, Mizzou, raise the voting age — to 25 The Tennessean 11/11/2015. The Ole Perfesser uses the recent protests by unruly Negroes at Missouri and Yale to say that the voting age should be raised to 25. In the process, he manages to compose a classic old-fart sentence: "it’s intolerable to be *governed* by spoiled children." Dagnab it, Bubba, how come they let all these here young whipper-snappers vote? The Ole Perfesser has been one of the leading conservative bloggers since the early 2000s.

The strangely-named student newspaper at the University of Missouri, Maneater, has a good editorial on this latest rightwing hobby horse, the confrontation between student protesters and a free-lance photographer. It straightforwardly defends the right of the press to cover the scene, which as I understand it is on public property and out in the open. But they also talk about the reasons that the black students have for not trusting the press generally: Nate Gatter, To journalists covering Mizzou protests, please take a breath 11/11/2015

Terrell Jermaine Starr also writes about how There’s a good reason protesters at the University of Missouri didn’t want the media around Washington Post 11/11/2015.

Digby Parton and Duncan Black both take realistic view of the recent disputes over free speech and white racism on college compuses. Digby in About those anti-free speech PC kids Hullabaloo 11/12/2015:

I've written a about the right's ongoing crusade to interfere with research and the doctor patient relationship on guns and abortion before. I realize that it's really icky when students get all PC and everything but I wish that some of our liberal defenders of free speech would pay a little bit closer attention to the way the government under conservatives is actively engaging in censorship. It seems to me that's a bigger problem.
Duncan address it in The Kids Today Eschaton 11/12/2015:

Anyway, without getting too deep into all of the details, I'm a bit confused by the fact that no one remembers The Kids In Their Day. Nothing much has changed. Some college kids are socially active. They often focus on the things they know about and the things they might have some influence over. You know, their university. This is actually smart, not silly.

It is true that sometimes kids do silly things, because they're kids. Adults sometimes do silly things, too, because they're people. Sometimes adults do silly things like invade other countries and kill lots of innocent people for no good reason. Sometimes they are real threats to free speech! Silly adults! Sometimes adults actually have power, unlike the kids.
Bruce Shapiro at The Nation reminds us of the actual protests on campus against white racism (Don’t Tell the Student Protesters at Yale to ‘Grow Up’ 11/13/2015):

Stirred by the Black Lives Matter movement, this year’s campus protests engage students on some pretty primordial terrain: the day-in-day-out interactions with classmates, teachers, administrators, and police that tell students whether they matter or not, individually and collectively. To off-campus observers, these protests can be confusing. The sparks and targets can seem diffuse, from emotional arguments over offensive Halloween costumes at Yale to allegations of racial slurs at Mizzou. But the stakes are real and have everything to do with some of the most fundamental issues roiling American politics.
Friedersdorf seems to have been a bit stung by criticism of his previous article on the scary protesting Negroes on campuses. In Free Speech Is No Diversion, he writes: "I hope to bridge that gap, and help everyone understand that liberals, libertarians, conservatives, and individualists alike are just as engaged in the fight against racism as the campus left, but in very different ways."

Interesting. Because conservatives seem to engage in "the fight against racism" by yelling, "Black people are racist against whites! Latinos are rapists and murderers!" And so on.

Here's a report from PBS Newshour, which features, Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a conservative group that challenges campus rules and publicizes campus events that seem to fit into the anti-Political Correctness/they're-picking'-on-us-pore-white-folks framework, At Mizzou, Yale and beyond, campus protests stir fresh questions about free speech 11/12/2015:

Lukianoff and FIRE seem to be the most prominent group working this particular issue right now. So it's always helpful when these types of campus issues become a flashpoint for conservatives to whine about Political Correctness to be mindful of what role FIRE and its agenda plays in framing the discussions. The PBS discussion touches on "catastrophizing," which Matt Rozsa uses in the article from which I took the opening quote of this post.

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