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US will perish from PC-induced insanity unless universities become free-speech zones once again

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
US will perish from PC-induced insanity unless universities become free-speech zones once again
America is faced with the grim prospect of the First Amendment being abolished in the places where it should be most vibrant – the schools and universities. Nothing less than the nation’s survival is at stake.

Judging by the current PC madness now afflicting America, it looks as though Uncle Sam rolled out of bed one morning, stared at his reflection in the mirror and said to himself, “I no longer identify as a normal nation with long-standing values, conservative ideals and a strong moral foundation. Today I identify as an intolerant and self-indulgent narcissist, ready to lash out and silence anyone who disagrees with my worldview.” And then many of the nation’s inhabitants quickly followed suit.

Indeed, America seems to have reached the point in its ‘progressive’ development where those who seem to have literally lost their minds – much like the authority figures in Ken Kesey’s masterful 1962 novel, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ – wish to institutionalize the remainder of the sane population.

That preamble leads us to the greatest insane asylums of them all, the American university. Once the proud home of intellectualism and academic freedom, these centers of higher learning now resemble fanatic hotbeds of intolerance and bigotry where an invasive type of poison ivy has overrun the structures, leaving the ivory towers to whither in perpetual darkness. Most people are only too familiar with horror stories of campus censorship where activist-minded students work to prevent guest speakers – sometimes by resorting to outright violence - from airing their ‘controversial’ ideas.

Imagine that. The very cognitive exercise that allows ideas to ripen to perfection through open and free discussion is now deemed too radical for the university! These coddled young imbeciles seem to think that by paying exorbitant tuition fees entitles them to an inoffensive college experience in debate-free comfort zones where they may float for four effortless years in a bubble of self-delusional certainty. Perhaps the next step will be to make failing a class unacceptable because that would hurt too many feelings as well. What is most alarming about this situation is that it is the young and inexperienced – the apprentices who have paid admission to learn – who have laid down the ground rules to their masters. The word pathetic comes to mind.                                           

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It is trying times like these when the world of academia could use a heavy dose of George Carlin, the late comedian who once described political correctness as nothing more than “fascism pretending to be manners.” But since Carlin is no longer with us, we will have to settle for some reserved remarks by a couple of staid and brave professors instead.

In March 2017, two prominent academics, Robert P. George and Cornel West, co-wrote a statement in which they decried what they called ‘campus illiberalism,’ reminding students that the purpose of a university education is “truth seeking, democracy and freedom of thought and expression.” That such a reminder was even necessary speaks volumes about how deplorable the situation has become.    

George and West harked back to the teachings of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), the British philosopher who lectured that since our beliefs may be in error “is a good reason to listen to and honestly consider … points of view that we do not share, and even perspectives that we find shocking or scandalous.” That is essentially what Evelyn Beatrice Hall had in mind when she remarked, in words that would shock many students today, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  

Today, the PC thought thugs are attempting to superimpose their bold designs on humanity without any input from the rest of society. As just two samples, consider the endless questions involving the extremely controversial issue of transgenderism, the debate on which is now considered too radical and disrespectful to the subjects. 

The largely unchallenged belief that men can be women, and vice-versa – a view that is rigorously defended in many university Gender Studies programs – has had serious implications in many places, not least of in the world of sport where born males are now competing in events alongside females. This debate also leads to the question over the use of gender-neutral pronouns when addressing people. Despite the fact that such unprecedented issues require the highest level of frank discussion, the trend in the educational system is moving towards greater censorship and control.

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This month, for example, lawmakers from New Jersey introduced a motion to remove The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its public school curricula so as to avoid “an uncomfortable atmosphere in the classroom.” Again, the message is to shield the student from any disagreeable topics.

As any American knows, this classic piece of literature by Mark Twain presents an unfiltered depiction of the antebellum South, even including liberal usage of the inflammatory n-word. Apart from the question of outright censorship, which is hard to stop once put into motion, it is highly doubtful that sanitizing American classrooms will do anyone any good. In fact, it practically guarantees that Americans will be doomed to repeat history because they are essentially burning the controversial books that allowed such unfortunate moments to be remembered.

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Toni Morrison, the prominent African-American novelist, initially had misgivings over Twain's classic work, but later reconciled herself to the belief that the book had valuable lessons to teach. Attempts to ban it, she said, represented a “purist yet elementary kind of censorship designed to appease adults rather than educate children.” Sadly, not everyone views censorship in such an open-minded way.

The aggressive move to purge everything disagreeable from US history is beginning to rear its head in other ways as well, most notably with the systematic removal of Civil War monuments to Confederate leaders who fought against the Union forces. It cannot be emphasized enough that removing statues does not remove the stain of history; it only allows the public to discard history lessons that should never be forgotten (the argument that says history books can substitute for bronze statues in the public square doesn’t hold up to scrutiny when the move towards banning books is already in its latent stages).   

So what can be done to stop the slide towards blatant censorship in the public domain, not least of all the university? Well, Donald Trump has an idea, which is an intriguing albeit unfortunate one. The US leader said he would “sign an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research funds.” That makes sense. After all, why should the US government be expected to fund colleges and universities that are refusing to honor the US Constitution?

Although such a move makes for a temporary band-aid, the mortal wound of political correctness that has gravely inflicted the United States, and the rest of the Western world as well, will not heal even for lack of dollars. Thus, the conservatives and the liberals will continue chasing each other, year after year, in a game of fox and rabbit that will eventually lead both to their demise, and with it that of the country too.

Unless the Democrats and Republicans can finally agree that no amount of political correctness or social-justice nonsense should interfere with the 1st Amendment right to free speech, the future health and success of the United States will remain severely in doubt.

@Robert_Bridge

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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