WELL, THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY:
The Cocked Fist Culture has turned into an ouroboros, except the snake is well past swallowing its own tail. It’s eaten its way clean up to mid-sternum. Recent books across the political spectrum have extensively documented this turn, notably Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson’s End of Discussion on the right and Kirsten Powers’s The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech on the center-left. Though the outrage industrial complex shows no sign of shrinking, some thought a high-water mark had been reached earlier this year when Jonathan Chait, a New York writer and reliable liberal, broke ranks, accusing his own team of ideological repression through all the thought-and-speech policing. He charged that the hijacked left had adopted the modus operandi of old-line smash-mouth Marxists, who’ve always been contemptuous of mainstream liberalism’s tendency to enshrine dissent. The present left merely swaps Marxist preoccupation with economics for race-and-gender-identity fetishization.
While some on the right gave Chait a swat for sniffily arriving a quarter-century late to the anti-p.c. party, his comrades lined up to steamroll him. Amanda Taub, Vox’s self-described “senior sadness correspondent,” responded that there’s no such thing as political correctness. Even using the term is just a way “to dismiss a concern or demand as a frivolous grievance rather than a real issue,” a device “often used by those in a position of privilege to silence debates raised by marginalized people.” A sentence that sounded suspiciously like it had been written by a political-correctness meme generator. The kind that Orwell described as prose consisting “less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a pre-fabricated hen-house.”
But the senior sadness correspondent must’ve grown even sadder when several months later, Vox itself ran a piece by a professor bylined Edward Schlosser. He complained of students’ claiming grievous harm over every imagined affront. Of his and his colleagues’ having to adjust their teaching materials so as not to trample the fragile buttercups, for fear of losing their jobs. Of being afraid to teach the likes of Upton Sinclair and Mark Twain at the risk of triggering sensibility-offending IEDs. Of cultural studies and social-justice writers enabling these attitudes in popular media by attempting to make complex fields of study as easily digestible as a TGIF sitcom, which has “led to an adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice.”
The piece’s headline, incidentally, was “I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.” One is tempted to reply to Professor Schlosser (not his real name, he was too afraid to use it): How do you think the rest of us feel? Especially as the students being taught—if “teaching” is actually what happens in the trigger-warned, hermetically sealed safe spaces that higher-education classrooms have become—move into the workforce. There, they can further the debate, which no longer remotely resembles a debate, since a debate is something too unsafe-spacey to have.
— “The Cocked Fist Culture: Crossing the Microaggressions Minefield,” by Matt Labash, which appeared online this past Thursday at the Weekly Standard.
— Twitchy.com, yesterday.
No word yet when Paul Krugman, Chris Matthews, Brian Ross, CNN and President Obama will be condemning this disgusting bit of eliminationist artwork and its excoriating effect on the culture as a whole.