I did not live through the dark days of McCarthyism when there was a communist behind every bush, blacklists controlled who worked in Hollywood, liberal college professors had trouble obtaining tenure or getting published and conformity was forced down everyone’s throats in the name of “social norms,” but I guarantee you that I know what it feels like. Social scientists will look back at the years of the Obama Administration as the pinnacle of the dark years dominated by the censorship of the “Politically Correct.”
Today it is “evil” to poke even good-natured fun at anyone unless they are a rich, fat, gun-toting, Southern white Christian male. All of those categories are fair game and there is virtually no repercussion for anything public figures or the press say about folks in any or all of those categories. Say a disparaging word about any other group and the forces of the Politically Correct will rise against you simultaneously condemning your actions. You actually don’t even have to say a disparaging word, if ANY potential recipient of your words has their feelings hurt or is in any way offended by your words then you will be castigated. It doesn’t matter whether their feeling of insult is unreasonable, irrational or insane, you will be condemned for your words or actions.
In the first of this six part series I am going to talk about the censorship of conformists by the Politically Correct. In subsequent parts we will look at the censorship of the Politically Correct in education, in the media, in religion, and relating to patriotism and tolerance.
The Sin Of Conformity
During the dark days of McCarthyism anything different or non-conforming was viewed as suspect. Unique was viewed suspiciously, different was bad, people strove to “keep up with the Jones’” so that they would be viewed as the same as their neighbors. Conformity did have certain benefits. Conformity provided a feeling of belonging, a feeling of being a part of a greater whole. Conformity created a sense of community and created a sense of shared values and shared morals. Conformity also suffocated creativity, isolated those that acted or looked different, condemned diverse views, bred intolerance and launched witch hunts for those that varied from the norm.
Despite the comforts that came with conformity there was a huge push of “counterculture” where defiant non-conformity began to emerge in the late 50′s and exploded in the music, literature, theater and general culture of the ’60s. The pendulum of change continued to swing away from conformity to non-conformity over the next four decades.
I watched a really interesting interaction tonight that helped clarify my thoughts on the censorship of the Politically Correct for non-conformity. Two young girls walked into an ice cream parlor wearing zebra pajamas and sun glasses. I laughed to myself wondering what they were thinking. I then watched as another group of kids walked into the store and immediately smirk at the two girls, and it was not a nice smirk. What was being communicated during those looks, whispers and glances was that this new group of youths thought themselves superior to the two girls wearing the zebra pajamas. The acts of condemnation that I watched were no different from the condemnation that a non-conformist would have received during the dark days of McCarthy.
Ironically, these arrogant and smug kids mocking and smugly condemning others had pink or purple hair, lots of piercings and tattoos and were wearing clothes that I would describe as “grunge.” To me both sets of kids simply looked like they were expressing themselves and trying to find their own voice. However, it was clear that the second group of kids viewed themselves as “normal” and anything that diverged from their definition of normal was to be mocked and condemned.
I find this quiet conflict in a suburban ice cream store to be symbolic of the real life theater playing out across America. Those pioneering non-conformists of the last half-century have actually become the majority. Triumphant in their “uniqueness” they celebrate tolerance, diversity, protection of self-expression and the feeling that everyone should be equally able to celebrate that they are special.
Ironically, because these non-conformists have melded into a majority known as the Politically Correct, the benefits of self-expression have been matched by identical negative attributes. Conformists are viewed with suspicion, stating closely held beliefs about faith, especially Christianity, is viewed as “intolerant.” Free thought is stifled if it varies from the mantra of the Politically Correct – anyone daring to question climate change, the benefits of diversity or any one of a number of different topics is immediately marginalized as crazy or paranoid. News that is reported that varies from the working views of the Politically Correct is called “Faux” to further marginalize that source and everyone that watches or listens to it.
We find ourselves having come full circle – this wonderful freedom that comes from individualism is now crushing conservative values under its boot heel of censorship. Sadly, just like the dark days of McCarthyism, those censoring are absolutely convinced that they, and only they, are correct and that any censorship is absolutely necessary to guarantee that their “correct” views are exclusively followed nationwide.