Most people don’t know that the term, politically correct, has its origins in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Back then, it meant more than just excommunication from the Party. It often meant excommunication from this veil of tears – a la Trotsky, via an icepick to the head.
Well, it may come to that here as well.
It is certainly headed that way.
Of all things – and of all places – the car business has become hag-ridden by politically correct orthodoxies and while the penalty for running afoul of these is not yet NKVD thugs bashing in your skull, it is serious enough.
About year ago, I wrote a column (here) lambasting the fact that a major automaker – General Motors – actually had a vice president of diversity. An in-house, full-time (and six-figure, maybe seven) Jesse Jackson.
Because – third rail time – as we all know perfectly well but must never say openly, “diversity” means the promotion of and focus on certain racial groups (and sexes and sexual preferences) to the exclusion of one very specific race and sexual (spare me talk of “gender”) preference.
It means bean-counting people not according to who they are as individual human beings or what they bring to the table in terms of individual merit and achievement but according to their hue and reproductive equipment and bedroom inclinations.
Thus, embarrassments such as African Americans on Wheels (yes, really) and GayWheels.com (the relevance of the latter will shortly become clear) and of vice presidents of diversity at a major automaker.
Being a car guy, I figured car companies were places where cars and engineering mattered – as opposed to skin pigment and claspers or not.
I wondered – in print – about the oddity of seeking a color-blind society by focusing on . . . color.
And why any of this should be the concern of a major car company, whose business ought to be designing, building and selling great cars – which GM has often done in the past as well as currently.
Is African Americans on Wheels any less noxious than Aryans in Audis – or Jews in Jeeps? Do gay people base their car buying decisions on who they sleep with? Or is it that they object to not having specifically gay people designing – and selling – them?
God, it makes my teeth ache.
I wrote in goodwill, as a journalist and one of the few such remaining not hostile to the car industry – and as a Libertarian, who loathes the PC cant and the denial of individuality and individual merit which inheres in categorizing people by group, according to their racial or ethnic origins or because of their sexual equipment and what they do with it.
Within two weeks of the publication of that column – just by coincidence – GM decided it would no longer allow me to test drive its vehicles for purposes of reviewing them. Which I had been doing without interruption – or complaint, as my reviews never slight a car based on feelings or some other non-rational consideration . . . you know, such as race or sex or sexual orientation – for more than 20 years, up to this point.
The denial of access to press pool cars is the equivalent, for a car journalist, of Don Corleone kissing you full on the lips. It means death – or at least (for now) the next-best thing . . . from their point of view.
By kicking me out of the press pool, they hope to prevent me from being able to write about cars – at least, their cars – which is a major problem for a guy who writes about cars for a living.
It is a purely punitive measure – like taking away a White House press pool reporter’s credentials for asking too many uncomfortable questions. It is ugly. Thuggery.
And that’s the point of this column.
GM has every right to deny me or any other journalist access to the press fleet. They are not my cars, after all.
But the dishonest reasons for denying me access are despicable and I have every right to publicize them.
In order to understand, you need to know a little about how it works. Or rather, how it used to work.
Media access to new cars is determined – was determined – by objective criteria such as which publication(s) one wrote for, how large an audience one had. They didn’t loan cars to just anyone. You had to be an objective someone. Legitimate.
I’m pretty legitimate.
I began to get access to new cars to test drive way back in the mid-1990s when I became a columnist for The Washington Times in DC.
As my audience grew (I began to write for national level publications such as the Detroit News and Chicago Tribune as well as major online sites such as cars.com and The Car Connection) I got full access to every major automakers’ vehicles.
It has been so ever since.
Well, until now.
Until that column appeared.
At a stroke, I was persona non grata, which struck me as both odd and suspicious, given two relevant facts.
The first fact being that I have a very sizable audience and write for several national-level publications, have a syndicated column, run the largest, widest-read Libertarian car site on the Net and do regular radio spots all over the country. My audience today is larger than it was when I was merely a columnist at The Washington Times – and also a columnist for major online media such as thecarconnection.com and cars.com and AOL Autos (I was once the car columnist for AOL).
The second fact being that I know for certain that GM has not pulled the press privileges of much lesser journalists – in terms of the size of their audiences and the pubs they write for.
In other words, in plain language, I have been singled out for sonderbehandlung – special treatment. Some will know the reference.