During the communist revolution in China, Mao Zedong adopted two pillars to succeed in gaining control over the country—unremitting violence and “correct thought.”
This was the beginning of political correctness (PC) in America. Today people a.) buy into political correctness b.) resent it or c.) brush it off as harmless drivel. It’s not harmless, but let’s see how it morphed from a violent tool of the Chinese Revolution into its modern American version.
Mao was a sadistic dictator who did Hitler and Stalin proud. In order to eliminate his opposition within and outside of the Communist Party, he needed to build an army that was in ideological lockstep with his goals. Enter correct thinking (his term).
In the early 1950’s just after consolidating power, Mao embarked on the Great Leap Forward, an attempt at rapid industrialization of the country. He would trade grain to communist Russia in return for setting up factories. The amount of grain he needed to be produced was enormous. He forced the Chinese peasantry into slave labor setting impossible production goals. If not met, he withheld food from them while most of the grain went off to Russia. It’s estimated that 14-20 million peasants died of starvation.
The damage to the country was so great, that members of his own party took the bold step of criticizing his dictatorship. To combat this threat of opposition, Mao fell back on correct thinking, in other words, my way or the highway, and the highway, in this case, was a permanent one-way trip. But Mao needed a tool to enforce his ideology so he did two things.
First, he codified correct thinking into the infamous Little Red Book. His next step was nefariously brilliant. He astutely recognized that young minds are the most impressionable and subject to indoctrination, so he recruited students into an army of terror that swept the country in the Cultural Revolution. The young students went on a decade long rampage reciting verses from the Red Book and combating the “four olds”—Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas—which meant any traditional values that disagreed with Mao’s “progressive” direction. Getting to sound a bit familiar?
The students murdered and brutalized their teachers, the older generation, and any that would not conform to Mao’s vision of a brainwashed culture. It reached a crescendo in the 1960’s and 70’s. This event coincided with the Vietnam War and the huge anti-war movement in the America that produce the first mass-radicalization on college campuses. I remember that time as a student. Large contingents of student radicals participated in the huge anti-war marches shaking Mao’s red book in their raised fists, eerily mimicking the millions of zombie-like Chinese students terrorizing their own countryside.
This radical movement proceeded to enforce its goals with occupations of college facilities, disruptions of classes, shouting down the opposition, and attempting to enshrine their views as sacrosanct ideas the correctness of which no one should dare to dispute. Thus appeared on American campuses and within the fabric of leftist politics the seeds of PC.
Fast forward to the present. The radical violence of the sixties abated for a while, but the notion of eliminating free debate by establishing a sacred standard of thinking, language, behavior, and political views incubated and morphed into modern political correctness. Campuses today are still a spawning ground for indoctrination. The political leanings of college faculties, many of whom are products of the 60’s, is well-known. You do not find many traditional voices there nor in the American educational system in general. Lack of diverse ideas is the death knell of traditional liberal education.
Still, we have to be careful in drawing direct comparisons of the American experience to that of the Chinese. We have not reached that level of outright violence and repression, not yet. But, witness the recent suppression of opposing voices on campuses through rioting and property destruction. At Evergreen College, the old 60’s tactics of occupying offices were employed along with intimidation of people opposing an “absence of white people” day on campus. You were a racist if you did not agree with whites absenting themselves from the college they pay to attend. How’s that for doublethink?
Recently we saw the politically motivated shooting of GOP congressmen in the wake of anti-Trump hysteria on the part of the media, the entertainment industry, and the campuses where students sought safe rooms with cookies and Playdoh to soften the shock of Trump’s election. Hillary Clinton described Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” racist, sexist, homophobe and all the other clichés that dismiss the essence of your opponents in a single easy label –fits- all word. This shooting incident was also preceded by a comedienne holding up a severed Trump-head likeness and a public play in which Julius Caesar Trump is stabbed to death on stage by minority actors.
Am I laying this climate of hatred and budding violence at the doorstep of PC? You bet I am. PC has transformed large segments of our society into uncritical dogmatists with no opposing voices of diversity. They are inculcated into thinking their way is the only right course for the human race. This entitled mindset is the only way to explain the depth of shock displayed in the anti-Trump phenomenon. Losers exist in every election, but this is like a mass psychosis, a hyper-indignant disbelief that the country could elect someone so alien to their way of talking, thinking, and acting.
In the brave new world of PC, if you disagree with the standard line on climate change, you’re a lunatic, and some have advocated jail terms for people holding opposing opinions. You must be aware of an ever-changing landscape of words you can use so as not to engender hurt feelings on someone else’s part. BTW, they get to define when and how their feelings are hurt. If you oppose economy-killing hyper government regulations that hurt the middle classes, you’re anti-worker. Disagreements with the direction of the Obama administration qualified many as being racist. CNN happily trots out Van Jones to tell people that Trump’s election had nothing to do with the policies of the prior administration that demonized producers in the country as greedy “one percenters.” Instead, it was “whitelash” against a black president, which makes half the country de facto racists.
Now I know some will say I’m choosing ideological sides. Let me dispel that. I have many disagreements with opposing socio-political philosophies to the views I’ve presented here. But the PC ideological virus is dangerous and needs to be called out. For one thing, it is insidious. Like other infections of its kind, it operates under the banner of fairness, inclusion, diversity, and equality. So did Stalinist Russia and Maoist China. How’d that work for you? Any nonbiased observer can tell you that the PC police are the least tolerant, least inclusive, least fair, and least diverse group of dogmatists going. This should be a tip-off that like so many other bankrupt socio-political philosophies, PC is merely a tool to gain power for people who’d just replace what they oppose with something worse.
The ultimate course of thought control movements is to graduate to violence. Thought control acts as the conditioner to dehumanize opposition. Once that is achieved, opponents become open targets. Modern American PC is mostly contained so far as an ideological force. But, even if arrested at this stage, it has a chilling Big Brother effect already becoming normative for our future leaders on college campuses. Their self-righteousness is encouraged by the media, politicians, and the entertainment industry.
America can find a way to progress, be fair, and be inclusive without borrowing from China. We can empower one segment of people without criminalizing another segment, but only if we do not allow PC to progress to the extremes in which it is heading. We must allow traditional debate free of intimidation to proceed without dehumanizing opponents under a barrage of labels. You can call me a traditionalist, but I always thought the best way to win minds and better the world was by force of exchanged ideas, not by intimidation of a society into Uni-think.