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Why is Jonathan Chait concerned about Political Correctness?

Because, as we’ve been observing for a while, it has now become a tool by which the left finds itself the victim.

And they don’t like it.

By the way, Chait even defines it:

Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.

More “radical” my rear end.  Unless Chait wants himself labeled a radical leftist he’s used it any number of times (and there are plenty of those who have commented on his article that point that out).  It’s how the left works.  It’s a product of the left’s identity politics.  It is meant to kill debate by marginalizing the opponent and thus dismiss their argument.   It focuses on the facile but effective use of sex, gender, race, etc.

So now we see it being turned on leftists.  And they’re whining.

In a short period of time, the p.c. movement has assumed a towering presence in the psychic space of politically active people in general and the left in particular. “All over social media, there dwell armies of unpaid but widely read commentators, ready to launch hashtag campaigns and circulate petitions in response to the slightest of identity-politics missteps,” Rebecca Traister wrote recently in The New Republic.

Aye, and like political activists anywhere and on any side, this army of “unpaid but widely read commenters” won’t brook any deviation from the leftist cant. Plus its much easier to be an “extremist” when you don’t have to report to anyone or have your work edited.  So they expect the Chait’s of the world to toe the ideological line or be #destroyed.   Liberals like Chait used to have the entire field open to only them.  They had the access and the means to publish and didn’t have to be worried about being judged inadequate by some lonely leftist in Santa Barbara.

That exclusivity is gone.   They’re just another voice … not even much of an agenda setter anymore.  It hurts the ego a little.  And then, to see yourself a victim of your own favorite device – well time to whine a little.  Because what has happened is the left is constantly isolating segments of itself into little identity communities.  If a man can’t speak for a woman because they’ve never been a woman and don’t understand, what in the world are feminists doing trying to pretend they understand men?  Etc:

I am white and male, a fact that is certainly worth bearing in mind. I was also a student at the University of Michigan during the Jacobsen incident, and was attacked for writing an article for the campus paper defending the exhibit. If you consider this background and demographic information the very essence of my point of view, then there’s not much point in reading any further. But this pointlessness is exactly the point: Political correctness makes debate irrelevant and frequently impossible.

Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing. This has led to elaborate norms and terminology within certain communities on the left.

I love it.  I really do.  This is so pathetic.

Kevin Williams deals with it all with one line:

Chait is stumbling, in his way, toward the realization that in political arguments intelligent adults pay attention mainly to what is being said, while fatuous children pay attention mainly to who is saying it.

And that’s really all you need to know.  Sorry lefties – no exemptions for you.  You birthed it and now you get to live with it.


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16 Responses to Why is Jonathan Chait concerned about Political Correctness?

  • Arsonists complaining about their houses burning down? Hilarious! It’s fun to watch the 95% Left attack the 90% Left. /popcorn

    BTW, of course “Political Correctness” exists — it’s “not offending Leftists.” Of course, the person defining what is “offensive” is almost certainly to your left, whoever you are, so the only way to beat the Sanctimony Market is not to play.

  • Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate.

    OH, no. It is MUCH more than THAT. It is whole classes of not just “discourse” but entire sets of ideas and the words that have expressed them. Words that often have been and are being used in a totally innocuous way. Words like “woman”. Or terms like “black hole”. Where “Chicago” is somehow a racist “dog-whistle”.

    The intent, always, is to simply shut down any arguments that run contrary to the Collective.

    I’ve been delighted that Chait has been caught up in the gears of that machine, whole cogs of which he helped fashion.

  • PC Petard
    Goofball collectivists

    No assembly required.

  • In all seriousness, this sort of thing really gives me hope that the current spate of Leftism really is folding in on itself. It is born with a set of characteristics that makes it so it naturally always projects more strength than it actually has (because there is a certain brute strength in the manner in which they can baldly and repeatedly walk up to Mr. Reality and spit in his eye with absolute unwavering confidence and complete inability to connect what happens next with what they just did) which makes it really difficult to tell what’s really going on out there, but the fact that the Leftists are really seriously starting to eat their own with increasing frequency is a Big Sign that they are collapsing out there. And, dare I say it, it’s on path to do so before it quite manages to destroy us. We may yet have at least one more go-around on the swinging pendulum before it falls off the left side, which still seems like just a matter of time in many ways.

    • It was ever thus with Collectivists. How many vignettes from the history of Communism and Fascism tell the same story. When they feel its time, they turn most viciously on their nearest political cousins. Purge, putsch, purify.

  • Trying to understand political correctness is as useful as a Vanilla Ice (ice, ice baby) song writing contest.
    I’ve been nerdy enough most of my life that this BS has had no effect of my norms. I’m now old enough to know that this special version of “moot court” is now beyond debate, and has moved into the realm of the absurd.


    “But heads”. Heh! Gotta LOVE Klavan. Of course, he’s a bigoted Islamophobe. Probably inbred, too. A hillbilly…from the Hollywood hills.

  • Eating each other is entertaining but is only happening because there’s no one in true opposition worth consuming. Bohner? Romney? McCain? Ted Cruz is on the does not exist list. Anyone recognizable has been destroyed or is a tool and doesn’t need to be. Its because conservatives thanks to republican leadership are a non-factor anymore they are eating their own. Once the Presidential election goes into full swing, they’ll re-orient themselves on a common target.

    Schadenfreude is fun, but doesn’t change the fact of who dominates media. And there’s a reason they’ve made it almost impossible to keep your kids off the internet and why Obama and their ilk are turning net neutrality upside down into the need to give everyone internet access, even if its crappy. Crappy internet is all you need for social media. Its a way to peer pressure, monitor and shame dissenting views especially in the young.

  • Guess they don’t want to play anymore. Too bad- they will be MADE to play.

  • The real problem is the morons of yesteryear, formerly ensconced with their stupid brethren in the confines of some dreary local tavern, now instead have access to a world wide public forum.
    And the other morons from the other taverns agree with them when they start their painful stupid.

  • I noticed that one college had dropped “diversity” for “inclusiveness” .. I assume because “diversity” was absolute.