Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Political incorrectness gone mad

You may have heard it mentioned by conservatives that certain opinions are practically off-limits, and that lefties have been preventing people from arguing that, say, the traditional family is the best way of raising children or that immigration should be reduced.

For example, I have read or seen these opinions argued for, and claims made about how they have been suppressed, in the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Daily Telegraph, the Times, the Evening Standard, by religious leaders of all the major faiths, by the Conservative Party, the UK Independence Party, the British National Party, in bookshops, in reports produced by think tanks, on the telly, on the radio, and, of course, on the internet (this is not an exhaustive list).

I therefore conclude that us lefties are obviously doing a pretty hopeless job of using political correctness to stifle freedom of speech, and need to jolly well try a bit harder.

But more seriously, this whining appears utterly impervious to the actual evidence. The Conservative Party fought the entire 2005 election campaign on the subject of immigration, the media gives a massively disproportionate amount of coverage to the BNP, and still right-wing people go on about how we need to break the decade long silence and have a proper debate about immigration policy.

By "freedom of speech" they seem to mean "no one should be allowed to call us bigoted or disagree with us when we hold forth on the subject of immigration or single parents". It's the modern version of Orwell's 'Ignorance is Strength'.

Political correctness is sometimes caricatured as people being oversensitive and trying to prevent anyone from being able to criticise them or their arguments. Ironically, this caricature describes exactly the tactic used by conservatives who pretend that lefties who criticise right-wing arguments are stifling debate - a kind of 'political incorrectness gone mad'. In a similar vein, the BNP have adopted many of the worst caricatures of what 'identity politics' aims to achieve and tried to apply them to white British people, for example the comical idea of 'White History Month'.

I was reminded of this, and just how intrinsic this persecution complex is to the political strategy of the 'conservative movement', when reading an article about Sarah Palin:

"Indeed, if political figures stand for ideas, victimization is what Ms. Palin is all about. It is her brand, her myth. Ronald Reagan stood tall. John McCain was about service. Barack Obama has hope. Sarah Palin is a collector of grievances. She runs for high office by griping.

This is no small thing, mind you. The piling-up of petty complaints is an important aspect of conservative movement culture. For those who believe that American life consists of the trampling of Middle America by the "elites" -- that our culture is one big insult to the pious and the patriotic and the traditional -- Sarah Palin's long list of unfair and disrespectful treatment is one of her most attractive features. Like Oliver North, Robert Bork, and Clarence Thomas, she is known not for her ideas but as a martyr, a symbol of the culture-war crimes of the left.

To become a symbol of this stature Ms. Palin has had to do the opposite of most public figures. Where others learn to take hostility in stride, she and her fans have developed the thinnest of skins."


At 7:36 am , Blogger Hughes Views said...

The charming Sarah Palin notwithstanding, if grumbling and gripping were to be made Olympic sports Britain could be certain of two Golds.

Speaking of whining appearing to be "utterly impervious to the actual evidence", a rightish correspondent to the Western Daily Press berated me and another leftie serial letter writer to that paper for something like "always obscuring the issue with facts" in our offerings. Gossip, received opinion, malicious rumour and blind prejudice seemed much more his cup of Horlicks...

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