correctness watchers have had a field day so far in the year 2000,
as events from the media flaying of Atlanta Braves relief pitcher
John Rocker to the public vilification of Bob Jones University aptly
testify. Clearly, this mindset is now everywhere. However, the most
troubling cases are still occurring on university campuses (both
public and private), and a disturbing pattern is emerging.
Case One: at Georgetown University, "token conservative" Robert
Swope writes a column for the campus's biweekly student paper The
Hoya which denounces a now-infamous radical feminist play, Vagina
Monologues, and criticizes Georgetown for sponsoring the
play, as it features an alcohol-induced lesbian rape of a 13-year-old
girl. Swope's editor-in-chief, David Wong, pulls the column and
gives Swope five hours to produce a replacement. When Swope cries
foul, Wong summarily removes him as a The Hoya columnist.
It is worth noting, in passing, that we are talking about a play,
produced on the most prestigious campus in the capitol city of our
nation, which sends the message that forced sexual contact is acceptable
so long as lesbians do it.
Swope had a history of columns critical of affirmative action, diversity
engineering, postmodernism, and other mainstays of the politically
correct left. Most of those denouncing his columns in letters to
the editor were his fellow students. It was a fellow student who
threw him off the staff of the student paper.
Case Two: Wendy
McElroy recently reported a "university-sanctioned campaign
of discrimination" against straight white males which went into
effect for a period last October at Michigan State University. White
males were told they should not be allowed to use elevators or appear
in various other public areas. There were "blacks only" and "gays
only" signs posted on cafeteria tables, for example, or on the doors
of some of the restrooms. The exercise was voluntary, but enforced
through a campaign of intimidation by militant minority students.
One student with libertarian leanings, Jason Van Dyke, filed a complaint
with the university's Judicial Affairs Office on the grounds that
it violated the university's own anti-discrimination code.
While the university administration did basically ignore Van Dyke's
complaint, again his most hostile attackers were his fellow undergraduates.
McElroy reported how one female student responded to an article
of his in the student newspaper denouncing political correctness
at Michigan State by telling him to "stop whining about how hard
it is to get respect for being a white, Christian man. If you can't,
please do the rest of us a favor and find another place to receive
In other words, Politically Correct U: Love It or Leave It!
These are just two cases, but I have no doubt there are others,
or that others will emerge during the course of this year. No doubt
many cases of this sort of thing are never reported, because the
lone "conservative" student is either intimidated or decides that
swimming against the tide isn't worth the trouble. What I would
draw attention to is the fact that it was neither administrators
nor radical-left faculty that took the lead in persecuting lone
dissidents from the new campus orthodoxies. Rather, conforming students,
whether in positions of some authority like David Wong or simply
members of a "protected group," are acting on their own. They generally
have free reign in expressing their views in campus newspapers.
The situation, as I see it, is roughly as follows. The youngest
of those who entered colleges or universities last fall were born
in or around 1981. These students have few meaningful memories of
the Reagan years. They were still basically children when political
correctness began its encirclement of the campuses. They are essentially
products of the 1990s, the era of the Clinton Regime and the era
when PC took over the campuses. Those now moving through high schools
and nearing college age have even fewer memories of days when what
we aging Baby Boomers thought of as free speech was still acceptable.
We are rapidly approaching a time of generation that will be politically
correct by default, because it has never known anything else. The
Robert Swopes and Jason Van Dykes of the world will simply be unable
to get educations in most colleges and universities. Their fellow
students will see to that, and the intellectual cowards that populate
most university faculty and administrations will never come to their
To date, the handful of organizations opposing the spread of political
correctness whether in universities or elsewhere in society seem
to this writer to have made very little headway. It is true that
there are a few identifiably conservative institutions, including
a number of Christian colleges. However, with rare exceptions such
as Bob Jones University they are invisible, at least as of this
writing. When they become visible, they face the usual denunciations:
racist, bigot, homophobe, etc., ad nauseam. So far, hardly
anyone has handled these denunciations particularly well. The typical
"respectable conservative" tends to tuck his tail between his legs
and cower like a scared dog before a fearsome master. Naturally,
in this environment, the PC left does what it wants, and the students
pick up the lesson: power is what matters, and intimidation is the
way to wield it.
had better figure out a new strategy before we witness the coming
of age of a Brave New Generation: a generation not just unfamiliar
with this country's founding principles but with anything except
Orwellian "right think." These kids will willingly help institute
totalitarian conditions akin to those which held sway in the former
Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
this seem alarmist, let me point out that when some of us warned
back in the early 1990s that political correctness would run roughshod
over read education if not opposed, we were mostly ignored at least
by those who had the power to do something. Now, it is probably
too late for the more visible colleges and universities in America.
They have not simply become bastions of intellectual totalitarianism,
they are filling up with student cheerleaders for the totalitarian
fascism taking over America? Do not say it can't happen here, because
we are getting closer all the time, and not even by stealth. Its
advocates are operating right out in the open, and on their home
territory the campus they are practically unopposed.
Yates has a Ph.D. in philosophy and is the author of Civil
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (San Francisco:
ICS Press, 1994). He lives in Columbia, South Carolina and works
as a freelance writer and researcher.