I No Longer Say “Chair”

A boxer who strikes a painful blow knows quite well to keep pounding the delicate spot. He knows when his opponent is hurt and he strikes the same spot over and over again. If there is a tiny cut above the eye, he keeps pounding the cut so that the bloody trickle becomes a torrent.

If the reaction of the left to charges of political correctness is any indication, political correctness is that tiny cut above the eye.

That political correctness is a vulnerability is easily seen in the utter silliness on college campuses. The Delicate Flowers now matriculating need safe spaces and trigger warnings so their sensibilities won’t be traumatized. And it is all so deliciously mockable. For one such horse-laugh at the Delicate Flowers, watch the (slightly off-color) South Park spoof “In My Safe Space.”

About this time last year Jonathan Chait published a warning about political correctness in the pages of New York Magazine. He recounted the story of a student at the University of Michigan who published a gently mocking column about “the culture of taking offense that pervades the campus.” He condemned “a white cis-gendered hetero upper-class man” and denounced “our barbaric attitude toward people of left-handydnyss.” Note the spoofing of the way the gender-minded left spells “wymyn.”

He was fired from a staff position at the student newspaper for creating a “hostile environment,” even though his column hadn’t appeared in that publication, and four students in hoodies vandalized the door of his apartment.

Chait cited a number of other incidents, and the progression of politically correct language, including a new phrase called “mansplaining” where men are said to explain things to women that women already know, or know better, or that otherwise do not need men to explain to them. Something like that. There is another one called “tone policing” which is what happens when a student is accused of some infraction against political correctness, and dares to request the accusations be made in a less hostile way. Chait says the only proper response to an accusation is groveling and apologizing, because there is never a consideration that the charges may be false, particularly if you are a person of non-color, or if you like girls.

Chait cites the case of two pro-life protesters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their posters depicting aborted babies were snatched by a professor of feminist studies, who also assaulted one of the girls. The black female professor later told police the images “triggered” her, and that she had a “personal right to go to work and not be in harm.” She later said she had a “moral right” to attack the pro-lifers.

Leftist writers were quick to pounce on Chait. They fell all over themselves in condemning the excesses of the Delicate Flowers, but were equally quick to point out that as a white man with a column in a major magazine, Chait was merely defending his privilege, and, though he may be right in a few particulars, he was most certainly wrong overall, because political correctness doesn’t really exist, and/or whitey-straighty had it coming anyway.

J. Bryan Lowder, a homosexual writer at Slate, insists that the phenomenon of political correctness is hardly sweeping the country; that most Americans never ever come in contact with it; that these battles take place only on social media, and therefore could not be a “threat to our democracy,” as Chait argued. Lowder should tell that to the employees of most major corporations, who are forced to accept the new gender ideology and rainbow stickers on their office doors or cubicle walls. Such companies are rewarded with good “gay-friendly” marks by the anti-Christian Human Rights Campaign.

Judy Berman, writing at something called “Flavorwire,” said: “Like most critics of leftist ‘outrage,’ he conflates passionate debate and the struggle of oppressed people to make their own voices heard with censorship and the use of coercion, force, and/or rules to shut down opposing views.” Berman says Chait is really concerned about Chait: “What Chait is really angry about—as his vast, weird, and otherwise inexplicable underestimation of the philosophical threat posed by conservatism also betrays—is the fact that social media, the Internet in general, and the current, identity-driven climate of progressive politics have given his formerly voiceless critics a platform from which to challenge him.”

Jia Tolentino at Jezebel wrote, “I don’t use the word mansplaining, I don’t like trigger warnings, I don’t care about microaggressions, I am extremely un-P.C. in person and I agree that verbal policing on social media has gotten excessively out of hand. Political correctness can indeed mandate that everyone use the same vocabulary and peer through the most ideologically paranoid lens; it can suffocate the real world of complicated opinions into a pale, asterisked, overwrought mirage of protected online consent. But does that indicate that being considerate is a concept that’s now out-of-hand nonviable, or rather, that many people have their priorities way out of whack?”

Tolentino wants us to know that voluntarily denying reality or being coerced into denying reality—that man over there, the one wearing a dress, the one with the really big Adam’s Apple and the huge hands, is really a woman—is really only a matter of upholding good manners.

There were dozens more squawks and squeaks from the “progressive” left about Chait’s column. But, fast forward a few months, and you see the presidential campaign begin, and most of the Republicans began criticizing political correctness. Donald Trump said we have “become so politically correct as a country that we can’t even walk. We can’t think properly. We can’t do anything.”

Ben Carson said, political correctness has “created fear in a large portion of our population, causing them to remain silent.”

Ted Cruz said, “Political correctness is killing us.”

And the left started up all over again at once denying and defending political correctness.

Cass Sunstein of the Harvard Law School calls it “the political correctness racket” that is used by the “self interested” to “gain advantage.”

Robert Kuttner, founder of The American Prospect, said the term “political correctness” is a tool of frustrated working class and middle class white guys who’ve had a “belly full of women, blacks, gays, lesbians, and transgender, Muslims, telling them what language they are permitted to use.” And by the way, these guys deserve all they get. After all, they used to “enjoy the perquisites of stay-at-home wives.” He also said he was old enough to remember when homosexual marriage was a preposterous idea, though anyone over ten is old enough to remember that.

Amanda Taub had a huge take-out at Vox arguing “the truth about ‘political correctness’ is that it doesn’t actually exist.”

Can you see the tiny cut above their eye? Can you see how it’s really hurting them, and that this is something we ought to be pounding over and over?

And here’s the thing. Political correctness is totalitarian. It takes place in more spots than Twittter, as the progressives want us to believe. It takes place in our daily interactions. Next time you are in your place of employment, say out loud that women with children ought to stay home with them. See what happens to you. Say out loud that children are better raised by their biological mother and father rather than two men and see what happens. Say out loud that abortion should be illegal and see what happens. Of course, you won’t, precisely because you know what would happen. You’d get a reprimand. You might be brought up on charges of creating a hostile work environment. You might get fired.

Political correctness seeks to close down not just our speech, but also our relationships. The indispensable writer Stella Morabito is very good on this topic. Morabito, an expert on Soviet propaganda and a former intelligence analyst, argues that political correctness is totalitarian because it seeks to isolate the individual from colleagues, friends, and even family. The Soviets were so good at this. Neighbor turned on neighbor. Children turned on parents.

Totalitarians everywhere have sought to isolate the human person, all the better to manipulate that person into the new ideology. “A man alone ain’t got no chance,” wrote Ernest Hemingway. A man alone has no choice, either, except to rely on the state.

The new sexual ideologies must be enforced by the state. Otherwise how would they gain a foothold? It is not simply good manners to refer to a man-in-a-dress as “she.” It is a lie and it demands that we deny reality. The only way to get most of us to address a him as a “her” is by coercion. New York City will fine you up to $250,000 for the “willful” denial of someone’s “gender identity.”

We are not so far gone, we are never so far gone, that we cannot fight back. How? By refusing to go along every single time and to take back ground that was lost from our being nice.

We must refuse to accept their terms starting right now; not only not giving an inch but by rolling things back. We might take our lumps but they will not kill us, not now anyway, and when others see our resistance, they may be emboldened to resist with us.

I will never say “chair” again when I mean “chairman” or “African-American” when I mean “black.” These may sound trivial, but this is how it happens; tiny acts of resistance make a counter-revolution.

If someone calls me on it, I will simply say, “I am not politically correct.” Maybe I will find that Cass Sunstein is right, that this will give me an “immediate reputational subsidy, in the form of a boost in popularity.” I will let you know.

Austin Ruse

By

Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of C-FAM.

MENU