Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homosexual Frogs (3)

You can't read about the Political Correctness conspiracy for very long before coming across the following "joke".

"Political Correctness is the belief that it is possible to hold a turd by the clean end." 

Actually, the joke originally took the form "Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end".  American academics don't really do "humour", do they?

I have to admit that it took me some time to work out why this "joke" was "funny". I think -- I am not certain, but I think -- that the point is that Political Correctness is an obvious absurdity; a self-contradictory belief; an idea that doesn't need to be refuted because it obviously goes against Common Sense. 

If I say you are being Politically Correct then I am not saying that you are trying to do a good thing (e.g. reduce violence against women) in a silly or over the top way (e.g. by banning Punch and Judy shows). I am saying that the whole idea that there is such a thing as violence against women is silly in itself: so silly that it isn't worth explaining why, as silly as thinking that you can hold a turd by the clean end.

As we have seen, the following are examples of Common Sense propositions:

* It's OK -- in fact, it's essential -- to beat children with objects, hard enough to cut or bruise them.

* It's OK to hunt wild animals with dogs.

* Jews have a natural tendency to work in finance.

* Asians have a natural tendency to work in retail.

* Chinese people have a natural tendency to gamble

* Employers aren't responsible for their employees safety.

* There's no need to check someone's criminal record before letting them work with kids.

* You should be allowed to advocate genocide if you want to.

* You should be allowed to promote race hate if you want.

* You should be allowed to use racial slurs in public if you want to.

* There's no such thing as man made climate change.

Did I mention global warming? Mr The Awful Truth is particularly good on this one. Common Sense tells us that global warming must be a scam. The weathermen can't tell us what the weather is going to be like three days in the future, so why believe them when they tell us what it's going to be like in fifty years. [1] One fine day, The Political Correctness Brigade noticed that the argument "you can't do this because it's offensive" didn't work in all circumstances. They needed an even stronger argument to further their agenda. The one they thought that no-one would dare contradict was "you can't do this because it will destroy the planet". They invented the idea of global warming so they could use that argument when all else failed.  Oh and they did this with consciously malicious intent: they have a positive plan or policy to cause as much damage to the country as possible, and are using "you can't do this because it's racist" "you can't do this because it will destroy the planet" to further that policy.

This is not something which I am reading into Mr The Awful Truth's website. This is precisely what he says. He defines The Political Correctness Brigade as consisting of "anyone from a left wing, socialist, or Labour background". These people have

"a left wing policy to cause damage to the country and as it defies common sense, (they) don't want it openly discussed - unlimited immigration?"


"The half sensible reason to appeal to the half sensible is the downfall - 'it would offend' - clearly has its limits. They needed another idea to appeal to peoples better nature and what better than 'saving the planet'?"

This is

"All part of the same left wing agenda. This agenda will be used as a cover to impose crazy left wing ideas on us - high on the list will be the attack on the car and motorist."

It isn't immediately clear to me why not liking cars is regarded as "left wing", but then, I come from a Labour background, so I am out destroy the country. So don't pay any attention to anything I say.

What appears to have happened here is that some ideas from American right-wing nutters have crossed the Atlantic and, half-understood, been absorbed into the thought processes of relatively harmless disgusted-of-Tunbridge-Wells types who think that six of the best never did them any harm [2] and it's rather silly to put "may contain nuts" on bags of nuts.

I attempted to read Bill Lind's notorious essay on the Origins of Political Correctness. It made my head spin, rather. 

Most English people would, I assume, and without resorting to any stereotypes about gun-tooting hang-em-high Merkin fundamentalists, imagine that the centre ground of American politics is rather to the right of the centre ground of English politics. Their Democrats are well to the right of our Labour Party. They think Liberal means "extreme"; we think Liberal means "middle of the road". We see Obama as moderate, even right of centre: they see him as astonishingly or, even frighteningly, left wing. Our own dear Lady Thatcher was regarded as right-wing even by members of the Conservative Party, but she never challenged the principal of free health care. (We may not like how she ran the NHS, but she never remotely said that it should be abolished.) She never said that citizens should be allowed to carry guns. She never made it party policy to restore the death penalty. She stopped teachers from hitting children. She was, by many American's standards, a liberal.

So its quite a surprise to discover that America is in fact practically a Soviet client state, with universities in particular run along North Korean lines, and legal sanctions brought to bare on anyone who strays from the path of orthdox Marxism. White Americans, it turns out, are practically powerless -- they have been systematically disenfranchised by the ruling elite, just as the bourgeois in Communist countries had their assets seized. So powerful is the gay mafia that no-one dare come out as heterosexual. Liberals have complete control over the media, so no Conservative or right wing views ever get aired. And all this -- this Soviet takeover of America -- can be laid at the door of a thing called Political Correctness.

No, really.

It turns out that, in order to destroy western civilisation and apple pie, them darn reds needed to translate their godless queer loving Marxist ideas into philosophical terms. So they started up something which was first called the Institute for Marxism and then became the Institute for Social Research and then became Political Correctness. One of their main tools for world domination was a fantastically obscure branch of literary criticism:

"For the classical Marxist, it’s Marxist economics. For the cultural Marxist, it’s deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially takes any text, removes all meaning from it and re-inserts any meaning desired."

No, I don't know how you draw a line from Adorno, Marcusse, the Frankfurt school and and deconstruction to the belief that it's nicer to say "people who can't speak" rather than "dumb people". I don't even know why the idea that it's okay to like people whose private parts are the same shape as your private parts is "left wing". I venture to say that Mr and Mrs Midgley and Mr The Awful Truth don't know either. I am very doubtful if the people who think that we must at all costs resist the encroachment of gingerbread people on our traditional way of life have studied Eros and Civilisation or On Grammatology at all closely. But they do seem to have absorbed the idea that anything which annoys them is part of an International Communist Conspiracy -- and that this conspiracy is so pervasive that white, heterosexual males are effectively an oppressed minority. 

We have seen that Mr The Awful Truth specifically identified the Political Correctness Brigade with the political left. He seems to have got this from Lind. It's quite fun to watch his attempts to translate Lind's right-wing rant-speak into the broken English of the internet chat room: 

"At the root of communism was the theory that all valid ideas come from the effect of the social group of the masses. The individual is nothing. And they believed that the only way for communism to advance was to help Western Civilization to destroy itself by undermining its foundations by chipping away at the rights of those annoying individuals. One way to do that? Change their speech and thought patterns by spreading the idea that vocalising your beliefs is disrespectful to others and must be avoided to make up for past inequities and injustices. Then use this to stifle any discussion which might show up the lack of common sense in their ideology. And call it something that sounds positive: Political Correctness."

The Midgley's are committed to the same conspiracy theory. It's not just about gingerbread mean and the great British gollywog. Political Correctness was invented by the Communists. 

"Well, it is understood that the concept was thought up by a group of intellectuals who came together to form the “Frankfurt School” in 1923. They developed “Cultural Marxism” and “Critical Theory”. The institute was modelled on the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. In 1933 the members of the Frankfurt School moved to the United States and eventually spread out onto the campuses of American Colleges."

That's why bonfireless bonfire nights are such a serious attack on our way of life. 

"Political correctness is about trying to control peoples thoughts -- determining that there is a correct way of looking at things and that everything else is incorrect....You have the very disturbing social engineering we see rampant in our schools."

Dangerous intellectuals... Jews...s ocial engineering... thought control... subjugation of the individual... Marxist... Communist... stifling discussion. When a council asks a cafe to move an extractor fan because the smell of bacon is disturbing to Jewish and Muslim neighbours you might think that they are just being over sensitive. But they're not. They're conscously working towards the downfall of western civilisation. 

Kind of like what existed during the Nazi era.

[1] Actually, I have to admit it, there's a kind of mad genius to that remark. It delights me in the way that some of Dave Sim's arguments delight me. 

[2] "Oh? Then what did?" - A. A. Milne


JWH said...

The whole article does remind me of your comment on Dave Sim's conversion (descent?) into all this a while back, the one along the lines of:

"He is still talking about Canada. He hasn't moved to Cuba or somewhere in the meantime".

Sam Dodsworth said...

The relatively mainstream charity "Sense About Science" - currently campaigning for libel reform alongside Ben Goldacre - also push the "we can't predict the weather a week ahead" line, although they don't actually come out as climate change deniers explicitly. Ironically, this is probably because they're an offshoot of Living Marxism - a Trotskyite group who went Libertarian after the fall of the Soviet Union - and take a lot of contributions from multinationals.

What this suggests to me is that some of the crossover we're seeing between American and British right-wing loonies is actually the result of corporate PR rather than simple cross-fertilization of ideas. Luckily, we've got fewer right-wing loonies of the proper kind on this side of the Atlantic.

Mark Schaal said...

Aren't all of these statements functioning as shibboleths rather than any sort of logic? For example, when someone calls the center-right Obama a "liberal fascist Nazi Muslim" I don't think they are working from obscure dictionary definitions that make that plausible, but really they are saying Obama is a "not-us not-us not-us not-us".

It reminds me of a dialog between a meteorologist and a climatologist I read. At the end of the exchange the meteorologist took the position of "You have answered all my questions, but my gut instinct says global warming is suspect so your answers are beside the point." It isn't clear how a conversation can continue at that point.

Gavin Burrows said...

"It turns out that, in order to destroy western civilisation and apple pie, them darn reds needed to translate their godless queer loving Marxist ideas into philosophical terms."

A little-known fact is that Marx himself was obsessed by Political Correctness, the whole of Volume Two is devoted to it, and one whole section to why we should call dwarves "vertically challenged."

This is little-known because it is untrue.

"Actually, I have to admit it, there's a kind of mad genius to that remark. It delights me in the way that some of Dave Sim's arguments delight me. "

Very much so! I reckon there should be a Myopia event in the Olympics.

Helen Louise said...

'American academics don't really do "humour", do they?'

I beg to differ, Tom Lehrer always makes me laugh.

Andrew Rilstone said...

But apart from Tom Lehrer, Woody Allen, Mark Twain, Groucho Marx, Ambrose Bierce and Will Cuppy, the Americans really don't understand irony.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Aren't all of these statements functioning as shibboleths rather than any sort of logic? For example, when someone calls the center-right Obama a "liberal fascist Nazi Muslim" I don't think they are working from obscure dictionary definitions that make that plausible, but really they are saying Obama is a "not-us not-us not-us not-us".

Up to a point. People have certainly published books, with actual words in them, arguing that modern American liberalism has its origins in the Nazis ("Hitler, Man of the Left", and so on.) Some of the people who say that Obama is a Nazi have read these books, or read about them, and sincerely believe (as the writers doubtless did) that "thinking that poor people should be able to afford to go to the doctor" and "killing all the jews" are idelogically connected. And others have picked up a general vibe that "Hitler" and "Obama" are the same kind of chap. And many others just call Obama a Nazi because Nazi is, in their vocabulary, an insult. (I heard a lady in the supermarket calling a member of staff a "paedophile" because she'd closed the checkout.) The idea that "Political Correctness" -- not just saying "Chairperson", but putting frosted glass in swimming pools and using "contains nuts" labels -- is part of a specifically left-wing plot does seem to be fairly widespread.

Andrew Rilstone said...

I only just came across this, but there's an extremely funny site called "Political Correctness Watch" which is also highly committed to the Marxist Conspiracy Theory -- e.g:

"I also record on this blog much social worker evil -- particularly British social worker evil. The evil is neither negligent nor random. It follows exactly the pattern you would expect from the Marxist-oriented indoctrination they get in social work school -- where the middle class is seen as the enemy and the underclass is seen as virtuous. So social workers are lightning fast to take children away from normal decent parents on the basis of of minor or imaginary infractions while turning a blind eye to gross child abuse by the underclass."

He believes Hitler was a socailist, and although he is an atheist, thinks that "the Bible" has a got point about executing homosexuals.

It doesn't seem to be a spoof.

Matt Hilliard said...

Re: Hitler the leftist, in parts of America and particularly in the American right wing, the "right/left" distinction is applied mainly to the libertarian/authoritarian axis of political values. I think this is because while in Europe there was a long period were being conservative meant conserving the power of the monarchy, or perhaps the landed nobility, in America these structures were tossed out in the revolution. Meanwhile, America's frontier communities had fairly low amounts of government, and the blurry lens of nostalgia and idealization has obscured the role government did play (also the pre-Civil War federal government was a pretty weak institution...I don't know if there are any European analogues but I kind of doubt it).

Anyway, this resulted in a mindset that has a great deal of difficulty remembering the differences between fascism, "national socialism", actual socialism as it is practiced in Europe, and the many varieties of communism. The fact that these days most of these people advocate authoritarian approaches to perceived moral issues right after they get finished decrying "big government" is testimony to the American two party system's ability to forge lasting coalitions.

Gavin Burrows said...

I wouldn't disagree with Matt says. (Though I might add the word 'obsetensibly' before " tossed out in the revolution".) But it does seem to me to describe the root rather than the branch. We no longer conserve the power of the monarchy, why should this still be true of America now?

It's rather like the religiosity of America being put down to the Founding Fathers. That was all some while ago, and they never strayed past the Proclamation Line. An awful lot of people have migrated to America since, and more were fleeing poverty than chasing a religious ideal.

A related notion, I wonder if America conceives of language differently to the UK. Until relatively recently we would still refer to "the Queen's English." In America neologisms abounded more easily, acronymns became words and so on. To us language was something fixed and to be respected, like a statue of a great leader in the park. To them it was something in flux, reflecting the will of the people, like the House of Representatives.

...which, if true, says nothing about the motive of political correctness but something about the opportunity.

Matt Hilliard said...

Gavin: American political history is a story of very slow centralization of power in the federal government, so at any given time, there was in living memory the example of less government to hold up as an ideal being lost. Conservatives in America (as elsewhere, I'd assume) try to conserve what they think life was like 30-50 years ago.

As for language, there are plenty of people who will go on about "incorrect" English here, but perhaps they are less effective since Webster isn't really that impressive of an authority? I'm not sure.