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 Change.org 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.