Daniel Henninger does his usual great job in a 6 January opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, identifying the features of the “political correctness” voters are revolting against as they flock to non-establishment GOP candidates.
There’s one thing that’s slightly off, though, and that’s the tone of the piece. Henninger writes as if the voters’ disgust with political correctness is a largely theoretical exercise. People are seeing things they don’t like happening at a great distance, and reacting to them by doing off-the-wall stuff like rallying for Donald Trump and Ben Carson – that’s the sense we’re left with.
But it’s kind of the whole point, that political correctness isn’t a theoretical imposition on the American people. It’s a real and direct attack, and the fed-up voters have been bearing the costs of it for years now.
There are two key aspects of this. One is that political correctness actively suppresses the truth about things, making it forbidden to either argue for the truth, or at least question the orthodox narrative about what’s going on around us.
Henninger’s partial list of “PC’s keywords” suggests the scope of this aspect:
Identity, gender, gender-neutral, diverse, inclusive, patriarchy, workplace harassment, multiculturalism, dead white males, sexism, racism, organic, “privileged,” hate speech, speech codes, prayer in schools, affirmative action, respecting our differences, microaggressions, trigger warnings.
Even that partial list raises the question: what the heck can we speak the obvious truth about today? What features of human life can we see through realistic, empirical lenses without finding ourselves on the outs with the political power structure?
The other key aspect is that political correctness has immediate, material consequences for people’s lives. It’s intended to, after all. Henninger puts it well in this summary passage:
The left goes nuts when anyone suggests political correctness has totalitarian roots. But the PC game has always been: We win, you lose, get over it, comply.
“We win, you lose, get over it, comply” – yes, and millions of people then actually lose: jobs, businesses, business opportunities, freedoms they once had to do perfectly harmless or benign things. Some of them even lose their literal, physical freedom, ending up railroaded and incarcerated over things they didn’t do or that shouldn’t be illegal. They get sued and lose their life’s savings or their property, or both, not because they did anything bad, but because political correctness suddenly made something ordinary a pretext for a lawsuit.
People actually pay through the nose; they actually find themselves being shaken down, held twisting in the wind, and forced to fork over increasing amounts of money, time, and property to a mafia collection team with government IDs (from the EPA to the EEOC and everything in between).
They are forced to sit through Stalinesque group sessions (i.e., “diversity awareness” training at work, in school) where the “aggrieved” levy accusations and designated others are supposed to grovel before the collective confessing their faults. At a minimum, this is a fascist, centrally organized dragooning of millions of people’s precious time.
But just above that minimum, people can and do lose their jobs over writing something like what I just wrote, anywhere that their employers might become aware of it.
An opinion writer for the Wall Street Journal may not know, viscerally, what it is to be one of these people who could well lose his job for an unwary statement of fact; e.g., that diversity-awareness training is Stalinesque, and requiring it as a means of complying with government mandates is a feature of fascism.
But the point is that the American voter out there does know. He knows it even if he can’t immediately think what the right adjectives are to describe it. He knows he’s being jerked around, held at risk, placed under ritual suspicion, and forced by the government – as a price of participating in the economy or avoiding a lawsuit – to do more and more things against his conscience and his interests.
We’re not waiting for the day when the implications of PC finally mean that the American people are hobbled, muzzled, and coerced in their daily lives. It’s already here.
That is what the Trump and Carson voters are revolting against. These people are exactly the ones who attend homely “holiday” parties in county conference facilities, and who are now more likely – because of political correctness about “Islamophobia” – to be shot to death in such a venue by Muslim terrorists carelessly imported from abroad.
They’re the ones who get stuck with whining, incompetent, litigation-prone co-workers because of hiring quotas. They’re the ones whose small businesses come under fatal attack from LGBT activists masquerading as customers. They’re the ones whose jobs have been manipulated and killed off by the great PC lie of our time: the narrative of “climate change.” They’re the ones whose children are being force-fed the diet of social resentments and sexual anxieties produced by PC in the public schools. They’re the ones who have to live, day by day, with the reality of what it means when America isn’t welcoming legal immigrants who assimilate and contribute, but instead is pretending – according to the PC narrative – that lawless migrants who bring poverty, crime, and disease into other people’s communities aren’t really here.
Forty years ago, it might have been possible to treat the lying-in-plain-sight nature of political correctness as an abstract joke: a mildly mind-bending parable with a “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” punchline. But it’s forty years later now. The lying is getting people fired, graded down, denied opportunity, made second-class citizens, financially ruined, killed. And all with the armed power of the state behind it.
Of course voters are surging away from the establishment, and toward candidates who display the most relevant quality in this situation: courage against political correctness. PC isn’t a marginal annoyance in people’s lives. It’s the vehicle by which their lives are being transformed out from under them into something unrecognizable, with shackles and goads. PC is a minister of slavery, and the people whom it keeps stalking, unbidden, are standing up and saying no.