Historically speaking, political correctness has been for the most part a merely tiresome annoyance nipping at the fringes of society. Most of us chuckle at the sheer inanity of things like the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's direction to Wisconsin's high schools to stop fans from chanting "Air Ball" at the opposing team because “any action directed at opposing teams or their spectators with the intent to taunt, disrespect, distract or entice an unsporting behaviour in response is not acceptable sportsmanship.
Or take the case of Washington State University, in which students risk failing if they use words like "illegal immigrant" or even "male" or "female" because it represents oppressive and hateful language." And it's not confined to one university either, it pervades the social sciences in most universities. Critical studies has gone from being a minor academic enquiry into the Frankfurt School and derivative post-modernists to a staple of most post-graduate Arts degrees, in some cases demanding its own faculty. If these ideologues had their way, our institutes of higher learning would be turning out wussified balls of angsting gelatin, useless for anything but sniffing out "injustice" around every corner.
But what was once the exclusive territory of academia has leached into general society. The truly sad thing is that some people reading this will agree with the trend, either because they've been conditioned to think that way through repeated bombardment or because it fits with their tidy conception of perfect people interacting with all the well-mannered repression of late Victorian bourgeois society. Speaking of late Victorians, C.S. Lewis had something to say about the political correctness of his own day:
"My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position [imposing “the good”] would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under of robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some points be satiated; but those who torment us for their own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to heaven yet at the same time likely to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on the level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals."
Lewis would have harsher things to say were he to witness the degree of political correctness that's inebriated the west of late. Sure, it's insulting and degrading to be lectured at by sanctimonious twits, both to the lecturees and to the alleged victims the do-gooders are do-gooding on behalf of, as I touched on here, but all of that pales into irrelevancy when political correctness takes on an existential aspect.
First, in Europe, following the mass sexual assaults in Cologne, it has emerged that this sort of behaviour has been going on for a long time not only in Germany, but in Australia, Norway, England, and Sweden, where violent crime has increased by 300 per cent and rapes by 1,472 per cent. By all accounts the perpetrators are migrants, almost all of them Muslim. And it has been actively covered up in what can only be described as a conspiracy of silence by both media and politicians.
Second, thousands of western Muslims are being recruited to ISIS from countries across the west, and by some analyses there are almost 100,000 people in the West (North America, Australia and Europe) who are "ready to radicalize." And we are doing nothing, presumably because we don't want to offend anyone, thereby "radicalizing" them.
These are facts, as unpalatable as they may be. Yet it is how we in the west deal with these facts that is most troubling.
Let me add a standard caveat here, in the interests of avoiding the loud accusations of "racism" and "Islamophobia" and whatnot that are sure to follow. It is not "all" Muslims, or "most" Muslims, or even "many" Muslims who are raping and pillaging and joining ISIS. And the cause of it isn't "Islam," as if Islam is a monolithic, Borglike entity. But it is most certainly an Islamic issue.
On one fringe we have the low-information "hide-your-wives-and-daughters" crowd who couldn't tell a Pashtun from a Sikh and whose knowledge of Islam is taken from the scholarly howls and barks of Ezra Levant and Donald Trump. Some of them, for unexplored reasons, even think our current Minister of National Defence, a highly decorated Canadian war hero who wears a turban, is in league with ISIS.
But it is the other side, equally mentally benumbed, who is at the root of the problem, because they construct a narrative that often has a tenuous connection to reality, and whose skewed priorities are almost mythical. Their folly reminds me of a story by the historian Procopius:
"At that time they say that the Emperor Honorius in Ravenna received the message from one of the eunuchs, evidently a keeper of the poultry, that Rome had perished. And he cried out and said, 'And yet it has just eaten from my hands!' For he had a very large cock, Rome by name; and the eunuch comprehending his words said that it was the city of Rome which had perished at the hands of Alaric, and the emperor with a sigh of relief answered quickly: 'But I thought that my fowl Rome had perished.' So great, they say, was the folly with which this emperor was possessed."
The politically correct see what they want to see and remain intentionally oblivious to what they don't want to see, by remaining firmly rooted in the relativist paradigm. In Norway, for example, in the wake of revelations of mass molestations across Europe, the director of a course teaching migrant men not to "make mistakes" (presumably the mistake of molesting women) ironically insisted, "There's no single cultural code to say what is good or bad behaviour because we want a free society....There has to be tolerance for attitudes that may be seen as immoral by some traditional or religious norms." The director is representative of western feminists who, for reasons best known to themselves, have remained remarkably silent on the recent manifestations of predatory patriarchy in Europe, preferring to expend their energy instead on tasteless university chants and abstractions like the ill-defined "white privilege" we hear so much about of late.
Far worse is the western response to Islamic recruitment. In Calgary, a young Muslim woman named Hajar Al Khouzaii recently organized a protest against the lack of attention police and politicians are paying to the radicalization of young Muslims in at least two local Calgary mosques. Police Chief Rick Hanson's response? "We're not in the mosques. We're not in places where those who know that environment and know when something unusual is happening." This is an odd thing to say, as if to distance himself from the very thought of intruding on the machinations of a hostile gang of thugs lest he offend them. Mayor Nenshi's response? He didn't have one, instead calling it a police matter and declining to by interviewed by CBC. So we have the Calgary mayor dumping it in the Calgary police chief's lap, and the Calgary Police Chief running away from it as fast as he can. It would be funny if it weren't tragic, and it is typical of the western response to terrorism.
I understand the impulse of the politically correct. I understand that they believe that the only way to stop the unwashed masses from grabbing pitchforks and torches and burning down mosques is to present a transparently dishonest narrative of business-as-usual. And I understand that they believe that confronting the threat head-on will somehow "radicalize" Muslims who were not radicalized in the first place.
But it's incredibly sad that when a young Muslim woman, at great danger to herself, comes forward in an attempt to curb the spread of Islamic radicalism, and both the mayor and police turn a blind eye to it. Because not only does that feed into the general unease about Islam in the general population, but it incites people to take matters into their own hands and the last thing we need is for the internet's 'Islam-is-taking-over-the-country' yahoos to start acting out in the real world.
We have to stop hiding behind euphemisms, fear of offending, and outright lies. And we have to stake out our western values for all to see, and be ready to defend them. My culture, a culture that teaches respect for women, is in my opinion far better than one that does not. We have to stop treating citizens, both Muslim and non-Muslim, like fragile imbeciles who must be protected from reality at all costs lest they either "radicalize" or turn into vigilantes. Indeed, we are doing more real harm to our society and our body politic by relying on candy-coated lies than we ever could by dealing openly and honestly with a clash of cultures.
— Scott Anderson is a Vernon City Councillor, freelance writer and a bunch of other stuff. His academic background is in International Relations, Strategic Studies, Philosophy, and poking progressives with rhetorical sticks until they explode.