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Political correctness: Will it be the death of Western civilization?

I wonder at times where our western civilization is headed.  I see signs of resistance to the slide toward oblivion, but for the most part I see things which convince me that slide is almost unrecoverable.

While reading the Belmont Club, I find that Richard Fernandez seems to be seeing the same thing.  And he brings two examples to the fore that signal the extent of our decent, not whether or not we’re actually sliding toward the inevitable end.

One has to do with a school teacher in the UK who was hounded by students to the point that he finally struck back violently.  The situation developed over months.  It was apparently known to all of those in positions of responsibility in the school.  Yet the solution apparently didn’t involve disciplining the children, but instead, having the teacher take 5 months leave of absence.  Of course, the fact that those who were behaving badly were left untouched by the authorities only meant the 5 months delayed the inevitable end:

Hounded for months by a group of students who decided to see what it would take to make him snap; tripped up, shoved him into hedges and followed home threateningly, Harvey went on a 5 month leave of absence because he feared he would lose his mind. Punishing the gang leaders was out of the question. Traditional classroom disciplinary measures were no longer available to him. No more harsh words, no more corporal punishment, however slight. Teachers had been sentenced to jail for striking students in a country where the police were called into classrooms 40 times a day because the schools had lost control. Upon his return from leave the same group decided to secretly record him going over the edge and arranged to goad him after which they planned to distribute the video to complete his humiliation. They didn’t reckon on the 7 pound dumb bell. The result was a 14 year old with a skull fracture and a man accused of murder.

Fernandez believes that political correctness has created a “new morality”.  Going on he says, “[t]hings are now ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ for reasons which only 20 years ago would have been regarded as completely crazy.”

The situation with teacher Peter Harvey points to this evolving morality of political correctness that completely changes the hierarchy of what is “acceptable” and “unacceptable” behavior.  It is the re-institution of a stratified society:Underlying the new morality is not some notion of good or bad, but the preservation of privileges in an unstated but obvious hierarchy. Things are now ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ in the old courtly sense. Did you forget yourself? Rise above your station? The idea that animals should not be filmed in their burrows is founded on the idea that  their relative ranking in the PC universe should be revised. “What does it say about our assumptions about animals?” That we think we’re better, hence we’re bigots. QED.

That formula (simply change “animals” to your favorite PC favored group and “bigot” to your favorite PC charge) brings us to our second example, again from the UK.

A Muslim protester who daubed a war memorial with graffiti glorifying Osama Bin Laden and proclaiming ‘Islam will dominate the world’ walked free from court after prosecutors ruled his actions were not motivated by religion.

Tohseef Shah, 21, could have faced a tougher sentence if the court had accepted that the insults – which included a threat to kill the Prime Minister – were inspired by religious hatred.

But – citing a loophole in the law – the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to charge him with that offence and he escaped with only a two-year conditional discharge and an order to pay the council £500 compensation after admitting causing criminal damage.

So, since he wasn’t “motivated by religious hatred” according to CPS, his crime was less heinous than had it actually been motivated by such hatred. The fact that he scrawled “Kill Gordon Brown” on the memorial is just plain vanilla hate, one supposes and much less worrisome – although had Shah carried out the threat, I’m sure a dead Gordon Brown wouldn’t particularly care what his motivation actually was.

Shah showed no remorse for what he’d done in court. And although his lawyer contends there was nothing religious about the act and it has nothing to do with his culture – “he’s just an ordinary guy.” But who is it he sends out to speak for him?

[H]e appointed Abdullah Ibn Abbas, who described himself as spiritual leader of a group called Road to Jannah, to speak on his behalf.

He said: ‘It really doesn’t concern us how the British people feel about the graffiti he wrote – the real outrage should be about the thousands of Muslims who are being killed and butchered as a result of British foreign policy.’

Very conciliatory, wouldn’t you say?  Certainly nothing to do with his culture or religion, right?

But the authorities are hoist on their own petard. They were unable to act because of the fear of being “politically incorrect” which is obviously much worse than confronting the crime for what it is and punishing the perpetrator. Why Shah isn’t in prison orange and physically cleaning the graffiti off the monument right now as he would have been 20 years ago, is something only those who let him walk with a fine can answer.

As Fernandez notes:

Everything, guilt or innocence, morality or immorality is judged not by what is done, but by who did it. Alternet has an article by a rape victim who thinks her Haitian attacker was justified because she was white and deserved to be punished. Others are above it all. If Roman Polanski does rape, is it really rape? The need to judge every act within the new hierarchy means only one real crime is left in the world: not knowing your place.

This is our world as it is evolving today. It is a crippling disease that turns the current western concept of justice on its head.

Political correctness is gradually replacing common sense and natural law with an unstated but controlling code of manners. Certain things cannot be said; certain illegal things are legal and vice versa; things though evident may not exist.

The problem, of course, are the results of such nonsense and avoidance. Dead 14 year olds because their behavior was excused regardless of how abhorrent or destructive it was. A situation that was allowed to spin out of control. The obvious sin to those who allowed this to manifest itself over those months of hell for the teacher was the possibility of being charged with damaging the fragile egos and trashing the self-esteem of the hooligans who perpetrated the crime by making them behave in a civilized manner. Instead, the responsibility was shifted to a teacher who had no power to correct the situation or stop it other than the way he eventually did.

The authorities in the case were more terrified, for various reasons, of taking on the perpetrators than stopping the abuse. And the perpetrators continued to be abusive because they knew they could get away with it. The results speak for themselves.

In the case of Shah, the same thing seems evident. He knew, based on recent history, that his chances of being punished in any meaningful way were minimal if caught. PC demands that authorities pretend that the motivations of political or religious minorities be considered pure as the driven snow or ignored. Punishing them is bad form. Consequently:

In brief the politically correct world is becoming very much like Mr. Peter Harvey’s classroom: a “caring place” seething with hatred; a place of forced gaiety, of smiles as mirthful as the Joker’s, a place you want to take five month’s vacation from knowing nothing will have changed when you get back.

And one in which those who know their behavior will be excused, no matter how vile, abhorrent or excessive, will continue to take advantage of the situation.


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18 Responses to Political correctness: Will it be the death of Western civilization?

  • Europe is finished.  We need to take a lesson and adjust accordingly.  We already have our own political correctness being used to dissolve our borders and sense of nation.

  • What these people who support political correctness don’t understand is that they are screwing with the very foundations of civilized society – principles that have been thousands of years in the making and are based in the nature of human behavior and thinking.

    There’s a reason “do unto others as you would have them to unto you” is the basis of most morality and law.  Without that symmetry, you can never achieve a stability that is accepted as fair by a vast majority.

    Some variation of this principle is part of the foundation of every major religion except Islam, and it’s so universal that majority of agnostics and atheists implicitly support it and expect it of their fellow man. Take away that foundation, and it becomes replaced by “what’s right or accepted  is whatever you can get away with”. That’s the road to a thuggish and violent society which suffers continual deprivation as it becomes more effective and rational to subjugate and steal from others instead of produce anything.

  • I am reminded of Starship Troopers: in Heinlein’s fictional future, students learn about the disintegration of Western society and express disbelief that people could have been so stupid as to allow things to reach such a state.  That Heinlein wrote in the middle ’50s tells me that we’ve been on the slide for some time, and that the warning signs have been there for years.  Unfortunately, people who see the signs and have the desire to stop the descent (i.e. conservatives) tend NOT to get into government.  The people who either DON’T see the signs or else see them as a call for more of the same policies that create the problems in the first place (i.e. liberals) DO tend to get into government.

    I suggest that the battle is not between civilization and barbarism: it’s an internal struggle between civilized people who oppose barbarism and civilized people who enable barbarism.

  • It’s a bit of a puzzling post, considering that just the other day you were against racial profiling to find illegal immigrants (the AZ law)

    After all, profiling is undecidedly PC.

    • sigh….I mean “decidedly NON-PC”

      proofreading is my friend.

    • Not everything has to do with political correctness, shark. Some things are just wrong on their face.

      • Fair enough. We’ll just disagree on this particular item in this case – the territory has been plowed already

  • I think there might be hope for us, but there is no hope for Europe, we will in our lifetime, see the lamps of western civilization be extinguished in most of Europe.

  • Testicles = Zero.

  • Well, “Yes,” is the answer to the title of this post.

    Definitely in Europe, which is the land of what Billy Beck calls the Eloi, and if Europe has its fondest desire, it will drag America down into death with it.

    Remember, that over there, on the Continent and in the UK, that’s the part of the West that effectively committed suicide, twice, last century. Americans were distracted from that by the more formidable suicide of Orthodox civilization in Russia. But the evil of the latter seeped continuously into Europe and produced a society of Erbs.

    Now we have an Erb as President in the U.S.

    He’s sitting not well, like a stolen pizza, in the American stomach. But there’s a long way to go to get rid of him.

  • The Soviets tried to create a New Soviet Man. China tried similar ideas, maybe even more intensely. Both failed.
    I doubt true European culture is dead, anymore than the Soviets or Chinese succeeded.
    It is merely in hibernation.
    In fact, I think the whole crisis is changing things swiftly. The PM of the UK is in deep trouble because he was overly PC in assuming concerns about immigration were bigoted.

    • I think that Delusion is in the driver’s seat in Europe, and I don’t think an economic crisis is going to change that. It goes deeper than economics. Way deeper.

  • There’s no doubt my mind that Europe is the coal mine canary year.  Certainly we are fearlessly going where they are fearfully retreating , they having experienced the problems resulting from prevailing political correctness, while we have not.  Meantime, I’ve been saying for a long time that political correctness is the final act of a dying culture.  So I find it interesting that you should come up with this one, Bruce.

    • “…they having experienced the problems resulting from prevailing political correctness, while we have not.”

      I wouldn’t make that bet, that we haven’t.

      PC is the inducement of fear via social taboo to warn people off of having fairly normal reactions to institutional and social mendacity.

      For instance, the healthy side of the civil rights movement — making it unacceptable to harbor a racist attitude in public life — has been long overdrawn so that all that’s required is the mere accusation of racism, regardless of whether there is any at all. Now you have kids being taught in public schools that racism is part of being white, while blacks cannot be racist. This has gone so far as to be codified at many universities. But whether it is codified or not it is the prevailing wind of political correctness.

      And that’s the way Barck Obama was elected president. The only way he could be elected president. No white candidate who had belonged to a racist church for 20 years would survive five minutes on the national stage. Nor should he, or she. But Obama just had to pretend that he never saw what was in fact the very basis of his church, a revolting hatred of white people.

      That should have been totally unacceptable in America, not just because of the good prejudice against racism, but because of what it very immediately says about Obama’s character.

      Yes, America tolerates all sorts of religious diversity. There are indeed Christian Identity churches that still teach white supremacy. But we don’t elect people who attend them to high public office. Likewise, Obama should have been laughed off the national stage after five minutes of inspection of his background. But he wasn’t. That’s the new enforcement code of political correctness at work. And we are imperiled by it.

      Note how many times now the same media that ignored Obama’s background and proclaimed him the post-racial president have accused his critics of racism. It’s disgusting and vile, and was totally predictable.

      So, I wouldn’t take that bet, Eric. The UK is a different sort of place and we see it differently, but the fact is that we might well be in worse shape. The culture war here is real and intense.

  • You can’t seriously suggest that a fifty year old science teacher at a private Catholic school in England, snapping and beating a fourteen year old because he was hounded is evidence that Western Civilization is doomed thanks to PC.
    Because that would be a huge ripe pile of horsesh!t.
    These are isolated incidents – especially with the teacher.  If they weren’t isolated and if they were as a result of widespread political correctness gone mad, we would see them happening more often.
    And this seems a lot like you’re blaming the victim…  A fourteen year-old boy…

    Dead 14 year olds because their behavior was excused regardless of how abhorrent or destructive it was. A situation that was allowed to spin out of control. The obvious sin to those who allowed this to manifest itself over those months of hell for the teacher was the possibility of being charged with damaging the fragile egos and trashing the self-esteem of the hooligans who perpetrated the crime by making them behave in a civilized manner. Instead, the responsibility was shifted to a teacher who had no power to correct the situation or stop it other than the way he eventually did.

    (FYI – the boy isn’t dead.  And Fernandez is wrong – the teacher was not charged with murder.)
    You know, Harvey could have quit the job if dealing with a bunch of troublesome kids was causing him to go crazy.  Hell, I can’t handle kids more than five minutes… so I know teaching isn’t my gig.
    Harvey had other problems.  His wife suffered from depression – they have a sick kid.  And why weren’t these other teachers at this start-every-day-with-a-prayer private performing arts school beating these same students half to death???
    This is a poor example in a poorly written piece.  Fernandez is all over the place with his points and fails to prove any of them.

  • “These are isolated incidents”

    ‘These’, eh?
    I note you use the plural.
    How many isolated incidents does it take before they stop being isolated?