What’s an Honest Liberal to Do?
Rémi Tremblay, American Renaissance, June 18, 2020
Much has been said about political correctness as it has come to dominate most Western nations (Eastern countries seem to be immune to this disease). Agitprop in America, recently published by Arktos, adds to our understanding. Dr. John McElroy is professor emeritus at the University of Arizona and author of five books on American cultural history.
For Prof. McElroy, political correctness is a child of the Marxist doctrine that spread during the radical ’60s. Its enforcers now control the public schools, most academic institutions, the Democrat Party, as well as the Republican establishment. They no longer have to throw Molotov cocktails; now they set the rules.
The “Counter Culture,” partly inspired by Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” has become the dominant culture. After emerging from the fringe, its purpose is anti-American. Here, though, I disagree with Prof. McElroy: Political correctness is not merely an attack on American culture; it is an attack on European culture.
As the author rightly points out, the advocates of political correctness are not liberals; they do not profess anything close to liberalism. Nor can they be considered conventional Leftists; they are PC Marxists.
They think just like the student would-be revolutionaries of the ’60s. Only their tactics have changed.
Professor McElroy sums up their beliefs:
1 – All human problems are material in nature,
2 – Human beings are only one more species of animal that has evolved on this planet without intelligent design,
3 – The environment determines human behavior, as it does that of every other animal,
4 – The purpose of government is to control the social, economic, political and natural environment to produce correct human behaviors,
5 – Anyone who rejects these propositions deserves to be treated as an enemy of human beings.
The last point is probably the best-known facet of political correctness: People who disagree deserve to be silenced or eliminated, by whatever means. And whatever means is not an exaggeration.
In order to remodel the world, these Marxists continuously reshape language “to control perceptions, and thus behavior.” This manipulation has gone a long way, and speech that was considered uncontroversial 30 years ago is now improper, if not criminal. Terms such as “discrimination” and “Negro” have negative connotations, while new words such as “ableism,” “deadnaming,” “hate speech,” and “sizeism” have appeared further to restrict what can or cannot be said. At the same time, euphemisms promote acceptance of the inversion of normal values. For example, “illegal aliens” were first “undocumented immigrants” before being replaced by “immigrants,” then “migrant” and now “entrants.”
PC Marxists rose to power by demanding freedom speech but now shackle speech to keep their domination unchallenged. “Tolerance to them is never a two-way street.” The notion of “microaggressions” would be laughable if it were not a bludgeon against academic freedom and public discourse. The resulting feminization of America is producing a generation of “snowflakes” who cannot bear the simplest criticism.
University of California President Janet Napolitano made a list of offensive sentences, such as “America is the land of opportunity;” “I believe the most qualified person should get the job;” “When I look at you, I don’t see color;” and even the silly motto “There is only one race, the human race.” All of these statements are now “microaggressions” that “victimize” minorities.
But the enforcers of political correctness have also rewritten history “to make it into a Marxian tale of unmitigated oppression: the conspiracy of ‘the haves’ against ‘the have-nots’.” For Prof. McElroy, the intensity of racial tensions in America is the direct result of this victimological view of history that is reinforced in public schools and most institutions.
Every white man is the literal moral equivalent of a “slave owner on a nineteenth-century plantation, or a sex trafficker, or a would-be assassin of homosexuals.” The rest of humanity, including women, are perpetually oppressed minorities “victimized by straight white males.” A homeless white man is the heir of white privilege, while a black millionaire is oppressed.
At the same time, the liberal vision of immigrants assimilating to American culture has been replaced by the doctrine of multiculturalism, advocated also in Canada by former Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau. This ideology holds that all cultures are equally good and must develop independently on American soil, thus supplanting any host or mainstream culture.
The historic America founded on individual liberty is now a patchwork of groups that claim their own “entitlements” to counterbalance “historic inequities.” As the author notes, “Nowadays ethnicity, race, gender, and ‘sexual orientation’ define class consciousness in America.” Individuals fall into prescribed categories, willingly or not, knowingly or not.
The concept of equality has been upended. As President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed: “We seek not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.” All different groups must enjoy equal success, which is impossible even with race preferences.
So what is new in Agitprop in America? Nothing in the message, only the author.
John McElroy is not a dissident. He was a card-carrying Democrat from the ’60s to the ’80s, near the center of the political spectrum. He likes the Constitution, believes in God, believes in American exceptionalism, and is proud of the mass immigration the United States has welcomed. An enthusiast of Martin Luther King, Jr., he was happy to see Jim Crow laws repealed but also cheered when the USSR collapsed.
His beliefs have not changed, but America has; and Professor McElroy, the conventional civic nationalist, has found himself in a new and uncomfortable position. He spent a couple of futile years trying to find a mainstream publisher for this book — or even an agent to handle it — before he ended up with the dissidents and “extremists” at Arktos.
It would be ungracious to complain that he and people like him failed to stop the country’s catastrophic decline and enabled the rise of the illiberal ideologies he now denounces. Any ally is welcome in the struggle, and Prof. McElroy has written a book that could be a good first step in the education of a baffled former liberal.