• Brave New Generation

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    Political
    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
    your education.”

    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
    rescue.

    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.

    We
    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.

    Lest
    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
    mindset.

    Intellectual
    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.

    April
    21, 2000

    Steven
    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.

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