Photo illustration by Erick Lemus
Two protests about free speech at U.C. Berkeley set side by side with only decades to separate them.
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A deadly substance called PCP (politically correct person) is spreading through American college campuses once again, but this time at even higher rate. This phenomenon hasn’t been an issue since the 1960s where American socialists within their communist party line began to be egalitarian with their politics.

Pretty much that is when far left principles began the course for an ‘equal’ society. Opening the doors for those who follow the phrase “all men (and women) are created equal” and interpreting it as a law.

The Declaration of Independence was written to separate from Great Britain; it is not a law. The law we do follow is the Bill of Rights, democracy, a republic for which we stand… not for communism or for socialism.

All in all, the politically correct party would soon fully grasp America and find its way into the universities during the late 80s and follow through in the 90s.

Fast forward to 2017, ever not-funny comedian Stephen Colbert was trending on twitter for his hysterical rant towards President Donald Trump, leaving many on both sides of the political platform to yell out political correctness. However, most people aren’t familiar with the phrases history or the effect it’s had today.

 

 

Within America, the term PCP kept coming up, where it had turned radicals into socialist and communist groups. Debra Schultz, outspoken author of “To Reclaim a Legacy of Diversity,” said in her book, “throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the New Left, feminists, and progressives… used their term ‘politically correct’ ironically, as a guard against their own orthodoxy in social change efforts.”

The New Left in Schultz time was the result of some of the 1960 radical students that had become professors and brought new agenda in mind.

NY Times reporter Richard Bernstein gave spotlight to the term PCP that hit universities, and said, “the P.C.P’s themselves, there is a large body of belief in academia and elsewhere that a cluster of opinions about race, ecology, feminism, culture and foreign policy defines a kind of “correct” attitude toward the problems of the world, a sort of unofficial ideology of the university.”

Bernstein went on to describe how conservatives and classical liberals took the phrase as a satirical jab. They believed the PC agenda would only pressure those who wouldn’t conform to the new curriculum and close debate at whatever cost, thus, hurt students along the process.

A thin line was made between being politically correct and being an extremist.

The University of Texas executed the politically correct process with a “Writing on Difference” program that would highlight ‘real-life concerns’ about students. Unsurprisingly, UC Berkeley also followed suit, at the time, where they held a “Political Correctness and Cultural Studies” conference on changing up their scholarships for non-white students.

Changes that seemed as a great step towards creating bonds with all cultures were the gravestone of academic orthodoxy.

In a different case in Stanford University, a student named Amanda Kemp campaigned to eliminate a Western Civilization course. Kemp stated, We, the non-Western-Europeans, have no greatness, no culture, no explanations, no beauty, perhaps no humanity.”

Triggered, Kemp believed the Western Civilization course was “unfair” to minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community.

One can argue, that at the time those three groups weren’t really represented and she was fighting for their voice; however, wanting to remove a course just because it seemed unfair was a ridiculous thing to campaign against.

In spite of the PC Culture appearing compelling to students, administrators, and faculty (many of whom were ex 1960s radicals), political correctness took a petrifying turn. In late December 1990 the Chicago Tribune reported, “Groups of PCPs have disrupted classes, prevented speakers from being heard, burned controversial publications, bullied professors into changing course content.”

Wow, what a coincidence. The report from that year reminds me of other college campuses shutting down events in this day and age.

Chicago Tribune reporter Joan Beck, was giving insight about President Bush’s U.S. Secretary of Education Assistant, Michael Williams. Williams accused college scholarships of violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act towards minorities, in which PC student and faculty agreed with his outrageous claim.

“On some campuses, charges of being politically incorrect can get a professor dismissed, endanger a college newspaper editor`s job, force a student out of university housing or sentence an offender to attend sensitivity training seminars suggestive of Red China,” Beck said. “Fears of such charges have made it virtually impossible to talk about some issues altogether.”

The fear of backlash that Beck reported in the 90s still stands to this day.

A report in 1991 from NY Times writer Robert McFadden, stated, “After a racial incident on campus two years ago, Stanford University adopted a code prohibiting racially offensive speech. Since then, 100 colleges and universities have passed similar codes…”

The article went on to explain that the debate over political correctness will grow because of advocates of  change and advocates of tradition who have evenly risen. McFadden believed American education along with free speech and equal opportunity were at risk.

And so, isn’t free speech and American education under attack now?

Furthermore, the Chicago Tribune  in 1991 reported on another PC concern. Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (at the time) Lynne Cheney was concerned with many professors using arts and humanities as political tools. A case she cited was of a professor in the University of Texas who abused their power by indoctrinating their freshman students with their feminist beliefs.

The course was supposed to be a required basic writing skills class for freshman.

Cheney stated, “intolerance in the form of political correctness is most rampant on the campuses of major resource universities, which have become increasingly insulated against the rest of the society… the best way to counter the problem is through increased media attention and public awareness of the debate over the issue.”

Well, PCPs of the past, meet the PC Police of today.

In 2015 at the University of Missouri, protests broke out after alleged melodramatic  “hate crimes”  in campus. The result was ugly.

Heat Street and National Review reviewed 7, 400 emails that revealed an overwhelming loss of support from deep-rooted sports fans, donors, and alumni. The emails weren’t deleted nor were the computers sabotaged. However, most emails mentioned parents/family members of UM students wanted nothing to do with Mizzou, including talks of transferring them to other schools.

In other emails students felt they were left high and dry.

The protests led to the resignation of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe, Chancellor Bowen Loftin stepped down from his position, in May of 2016 athletic donations fell 72 percent, and since the events of 2015 freshmen enrollment decreased 35 percent.

Other hyperbolic examples are:

  • Students want Northern Arizona University President to resign after she suggests ‘safe spaces’ do not challenge students to “confront ideas they don’t like rather than hide from them.”
  • A student group at the University of New Hampshire called “All Eyes on UNH” listed demands to the school administration and town officials that local shops should look elsewhere for revenue and quit the selling of ponchos and sombreros for Cinco de Mayo. It outlandishly suggested that cultural appropriation at UNH normalized racism.
  • Resident assistants (RA) at Scripps College attached two flyers throughout the campus on “emotional labor” suggesting that non-white students should, “Call in professors and white peers to help educate their peer(s); Charge for your services.” The RAs defined emotional labor as a way to address non-white students feelings, a way to educate them, making those students comfortable, or help their ability of living up to social expectations.
  • There was also an incident at Yale University, of all places, where certain Halloween costumes were considered offensive. It led faculty member Erika Christakis and her husband to resign from their positions for using their freedom of speech to have fun.
  • The NY Times reported Ms. Christakis sent an email to students asking, “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.”
  • Protest capital University of Berkeley has shut down free speech with violence. Earlier this year, a controversial Milo Yiannopoulos event was shut down by anarchist groups — ANTIFA (Anti Fascists) and By Any Means Necessary — turning the free speech event into a riot.  

Mayhem erupted as those groups violently attacked fans of Yiannopoulos and vandalized local shops. Some students claimed he was going to spew his “hate speech” towards Berkeley students.

They have kept protesting towards speakers of different opinions.

Yet, isn’t sharing different ideas what the college experience is all about? Even veteran free speech advocate — who was a legit free speech advocate — of the 1960s, Lynne Hollander Savio, was saddened to see Berkeley affiliated with violence and denying free speech instead of promoting it.

Above all, political correctness doesn’t correct anything. It has been an atrocious issue for the past 27 years. The PC culture has only harmed college campuses and society by dividing us. It has undone any progress of unity to get along with one another, despite their personal beliefs. From college campus to your close friends, to my beloved satirical comedy, being a preposterous censoring puerile doesn’t create awareness or harmony.

 

“Modern Educayshun” is a vision of what hypersensitivity would look like in the near future, written and directed by Neel Kolhatkur. 

Modern Educayshun or Education? You choose.