January 28th, 2015

Binders full of PC thought

This piece by Jonathan Chait that appeared in New York Magazine has become the talk of the internet. It’s about the overwhelming monster that insistence on PC thought has become, which is apparently alarming even the liberal Chait.

He’s not alone:

…[O]ne professor at a prestigious university told me that, just in the last few years, she has noticed a dramatic upsurge in her students’ sensitivity toward even the mildest social or ideological slights; she and her fellow faculty members are terrified of facing accusations of triggering trauma — or, more consequentially, violating her school’s new sexual-harassment policy — merely by carrying out the traditional academic work of intellectual exploration. “This is an environment of fear, believe it or not,” she told me by way of explaining her request for anonymity. It reminds her of the previous outbreak of political correctness — “Every other day I say to my friends, ‘How did we get back to 1991?’ ”

But it would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. 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.

I would say to all those liberals who are surprised and disturbed at how far this has gone: what on earth did you think was going to happen? Do the words “slippery slope” mean anything to you? Do you understand why academic freedom is so prized? Do you appreciate that it is not everyone’s right—or really, anyone’s right—to demand not to be “triggered” or upset by the speech of others?

And do you understand that this didn’t start around 1991? That may be when you began to notice it and find it offensive, but that’s probably because it may have been when the attackers stopped attacking only those you found offensive and started to attack those you didn’t (maybe even to attack you).

And it’s not just the “the more radical members of the left” who do this—it’s most liberals these days. Chait spends quite a bit of time trying to deny this last fact—but very few of today’s “liberals” defend the tenets of free speech in the way he seems to think they do. And apparently, he’s not always one of those defenders, either (for example, several writers have pointed out that Chait recently wrote an article saying that Republican AGW-deniers are “unhinged” and unqualified to hold public office).

In his anti-PC piece, Chait describes how PC-accusations poisoned an invitation-only Facebook women writer’s forum called “Binders Full of Women Writers” (his piece contains quite a few astounding quotes from the forum’s participants):

The name came from Mitt Romney’s awkwardly phrased debate boast that as Massachusetts governor he had solicited names of female candidates for high-level posts, and became a form of viral mockery. Binders was created to give women writers a “laid-back” and “no-pressure” environment for conversation and professional networking. It was an attempt to alleviate the systemic under­representation of women in just about every aspect of American journalism and literature, and many members initially greeted the group as a welcome and even exhilarating source of social comfort and professional opportunity. “Suddenly you had the most powerful women in journalism and media all on the same page,” one former member, a liberal journalist in her 30s, recalls.

Binders, however, soon found itself frequently distracted by bitter identity-­politics recriminations, endlessly litigating the fraught requirements of p.c. discourse….

Who would have thunk it? How could those supportive, kindly, lovely, misunderstood, discriminated-against-but-extremely-worthy-of-renown women end up turning on each other in a tangle of competing and aggrieved special-interest identities?

When the raison d’etre of a large number of a group’s members starts boiling down to complaining about victimhood and hurt feelings, exchanges are going to degenerate into a competition for who’s got the most to complain about and who stands highest in the approved-victim hierarchy.

I remember long long ago, in the early days of ’60s and ’70s feminism, hearing some women (and even some men) claim that women were inherently nicer, better, kinder, and more spiritually evolved than men, and that the groups they formed would just naturally be nicer, better, kinder, and more spiritual than other groups. Well, anyone who believed that hadn’t yet spent a whole lot of time among women in groups.

[NOTE: Ace makes some good points about mobs and speech.]

25 Responses to “Binders full of PC thought”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    Chaits problem is that he thinks liberalism is being perverted by such things when its defined by such things. ie. they think its something different everytime they run into what it actually is.

    Debra Shultz said that “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”

    un funky history the wiki claims its a conservative thing. but it wasnt conservatives that figured if they changed the language, they would change peoples thinking. which is what put feminists at the forefront… manhole covers became what? actresses exist no more, they are now female actors… and on and on and on..

    accuracy in academia
    The Origins of Political Correctness
    The totalitarian nature of Political Correctness is revealed nowhere more clearly than on college campuses, many of which at this point are small ivy covered North Koreas, where the student or faculty member who dares to cross any of the lines set up by the gender feminist or the homosexual-rights activists, or the local black or Hispanic group, or any of the other sainted “victims” groups that PC revolves around, quickly find themselves in judicial trouble.

    The Roots of Political Correctness

    Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. Its history goes back not to the 1960s but to World War I.
    Two Marxist theorists, Antonio Gramsci in Italy and Georg Lukacs in Hungary, independently came up with the same answer. They said that Western culture and the Christian religion had so “blinded” the working class to its true (Marxist) class interests that Communism was impossible in the West until traditional culture and Christianity were destroyed
    The Frankfurt School’s key to success was crossing Marx with Freud. They argued that just as under capitalism everyone lived in a state of economic oppression, so under Western culture people lived under psychological repression. From psychology they also drew the technique of psychological conditioning. Want to “normalize” homosexuality? Just show television program after television program where the only normal-seeming white male is homosexual.
    In 1933 the Frankfurt School moved from Germany to New York City. There, its products included “critical theory,” which demands constant, destructive criticism of every traditional social institution, starting with the family. It also created a series of “studies in prejudice,” culminating in Adorno’s immensely influential book, The Authoritarian Personality, which argued that anyone who defends traditional culture is a “fascist” and also mentally ill. That is why anyone who now dares defy “PC” gets sent to “sensitivity training,” which is psychological conditioning designed to produce submission.
    Obviously, there is far more to the history of the Frankfurt School and its creation of Political Correctness than I can cover in a short column. This is just a bare-bones outline.
    By William S. Lind

    this weekend is a politically correct assault on the superbowl… all men are rapists and abusers dont ya know…

  2. Doom Says:

    Meh. As people get old, they tend to wise up, even just a bit. Most academics are brittle bones. Just one curve of probability crossing the other. They are still more for it than against it, just becoming grumpy enough to chaff at it when it comes their turn.

  3. Lea Says:

    “Well, anyone who believed that hadn’t yet spent a whole lot of time among women in groups.”

    Ha! Indeed.

  4. Paul in Boston Says:

    This has been going on a long time. About two decades ago one of my sons was having trouble in elementary school. The teacher said he had ADHD, aka, a bored little boy in classes run for not particularly bright little girls. Yes Virginia, boys are very different from girls. Anyway, we had a conference with the teacher and principal in the principal’s office where I noticed a poster that said “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will surely hurt me.” Certainly the reverse of what I’d learned as a kid and life. Needless to say I was stunned and tried to engage the principal about something so idiotic. She wouldn’t talk about it.

    At the time, “sensitivity training” was very popular, no surprise. Maybe it’s time for someone to start “Insensitiviy Training” classes. They’d be run by former Marine drill sargents, athletic coaches, and the like. “SIT UP STRAIGHT, MAGGOT. NO YOU CAN’ T GO HOME TO MOMMY’S BASEMENT, PAJAMA BOY. QUIT CRYING TITHEAD.” Anyone who thought harsh words or contradictory opinions were worse than sticks and stones would be given the opportunity to compare and contrast, after having signed all the appropriate waivers.

    Too many women getting psychology and social work degrees is as big a plague on society as an over supply of lawyers.

  5. Ray Says:

    As you point out, PC is all about who is the biggest victim. Dr. Sanity long ago pointed out the advantages of being a victim.
    •You are not responsible for what happened to you
    •You are always morally right
    •You are not accountable to anyone for anything
    •You are forever entitled to sympathy
    •You are always justified in feeling moral indignation for being wronged
    •You never have to be responsible again for anything

  6. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Wow. Talk about your First World Problems.

    Here we talk about microaggressions. Elsewhere in the world, people are stoned to death for their beliefs, or thrown off buildings for being homosexual, or beheaded as a political statement of defiance.

    I find myself wondering if somewhere in America — anywhere — there is a university administrator willing to address this on that basis. For example, when a student comes raging about microaggressions — such as a professor requiring proper spelling or grammar, or expecting an assigned text to actually be read — who is the administrator who will display a picture of Daniel Pearl and say quietly, “This man died for being Jewish. His head was sawed off. His murderers are still at large. Now, how does this compare with the microaggressions you claim to be suffering from?”

    Once we said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

    These days, we might as well say: “That which barely affects us is grounds for a very expensive lawsuit.”

  7. parker Says:

    The ‘trigger victims’ are a pathetic bunch. What would they do if confronted with actual aggression instead of imaginary micro aggression? I suspect they would whimper and die.

  8. Sam L. Says:

    “Women are nicer.” I present, for your consideration, middle-school girl cliques and high-school girl cliques.

    Then they get older. College-girl cliques; work-area cliques.

    O/t: I note the link to Dean Esmay. I have this recollection of reading that he died. Perhaps another Dean or another Esmay.

  9. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Sam L. — the old-fashioned stereotype was that men were trained to fight, but women were not. This means that men learned concepts such as “rules of engagement”, but women did not.

    This is important. I’ve been asked this many times — “Rules of war? Doesn’t war by definition mean that there are no rules?” No, not at all. War is hardly ever TOTAL war, and there are good reasons for limiting it. For example, there’s the unspoken rule that my side won’t attack your civilians if your side doesn’t attack mine. (A corollary is the unspoken agreement that soldiers will wear uniforms, so that we can tell the soldiers and the civilians apart. The former are targets; the latter are not. This is one reason why professional soldiers almost universally hold terrorists in contempt. Terrorists violate the rules of war, and thus have no grounds for claiming protection under them.)

    And another such rule is: when the battle is clearly won, when one side screams “please, I surrender, I’ll do anything you say, please just don’t hurt me anymore!”, the other side will cease attacking.

    I’ve heard that fighting animals understand this rule instinctively. One animal will surrender, and the other will stop fighting. But animals used to fleeing, not fighting, do not understand this… and will keep fighting to the death. (Doves, when forced to fight, show no mercy at all.)

    And similarly — again, using old-fashioned stereotypes — women were not taught to fight, and so, when forced to fight, they would fight dirty.

    “Women are nicer”? Oh, if it were only that simple…

  10. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    About one of the Progressive attacks on reality, called PC, and the fact that truth is anathema to the Left, my friend Liberty wrote:

    “Words carry meaning. That is why the moral relativists devote so much effort to creating new phrases that turn Judeo-Christian morality, from which America’s cultural mores grew, on it’s head, leaving a zombie like acceptance and regurgitation of the lexicon of the left.”


    In part of my comment to this I wrote: “Like the zombies, the Left feeds on humans, but it is on souls and human potential that it tears and shreds. It is omnivorous: it feed not only on the ideals and hopes of its victims, but also on the achievements and happiness that might have come to those who fall sway instead to the manipulation of the Left’s narratives.”

    ”The Left’s narratives and new terms and phrases are deliberately constructed to pre-emptively answer any questions that might have arisen in the normal course of life. They are to provide a self-righteous anger against any questions that might be asked by others; indeed, they are intended to render curiosity impotent, and to distort and make grotesque any search for truth. They thrive on problems, blue-print the exact confines and architecture of “solutions”, and seek to define the contours and emotional construct of every issue—especially controlling, by whatever means necessary, the words, phrases, topics, ideas, and content, even the mental geography, of permissible questions.”

    The PC attack on free speech is an essential part of one of the greatest intellectual battlefields of our time, or any time.

    In thinking about it, I reached a conclusion about a main strategic reason the Administration won’t just use “Muslim” or “Islamist” or “Jihadi” etc. about some violence, so I wrote an essay too long to be a comment anywhere. I included direct quotes from the SOTU and spokespeople for the Administration, and from the President’s 2012 UN speech, to trace an important strategy intended to Federally criminalize many forms of speech.

    Unlike many—with whom I totally sympathize—I listen to the President’s main speeches. Part of my argument in my essay is based on something I noted in 2012 that the President said in the UN speech. Here is part of what he said:

    “It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi, ‘Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.’ And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence.”

    In case you’re interested in my essay, my friend at LibertyBelle Diaries posted it at:


  11. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    My essay, referred to in my comment above, may also indicate a strong reason for the Administration to insist that we are not involved in a “war on terror”, and that “terrorism” is a crime to be dealt with in the criminal court system. They say, it’s just people using an idea as an excuse to do violence. Or to excuse, incite, or carry out violence.

    The attack at Fort Hood wasn’t terrorism, it was just someone angry about something. Etc. Howard Dean knows that the viewership for American Sniper is just people—say, like Tea Party Members—who are just angry at something. See how easy it is? It’s just pesky angry people who might excuse or incite violence, and who undoubtedly desire violence. It makes them feel good. They just use ideas as a convenient excuse to be a problem to normal, decent people like those on the Left.

    There is method in the Administration’s “madness”.

    Nothing important is going on, just law and order type stuff . . . . Oh, look, a squirrel!

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    The Fascist Left, where eventually all thought, speech and behavior must be either forbidden or mandatory.

    “Seattle to Fine Residents for Throwing Food in the Garbage”

    “AG Nominee: ‘Right To Work Is Shared By Everyone In This Country Regardless’ Of Immigration Status”

  13. Cranberry Says:

    I took my undergrad senior seminar class 25 years ago from a professor of organizational politics who was an avowed feminist. Normally this would be a concern, but when I spoke to her before the class she seemed clear eyed, and moreover something about her demeanor reassured me. It turns out what reassured me was probably a disappointing, worldview-altering experience she had just had that summer, at a special feminist enclave in the woods of Vermont. It was supposed to be an egalitarian, “womyn” only Utopia….

    What actually happened was something completely unsurprising to George Orwell – or your readers. All of the plans for work sharing and self governance by consensus were almost immediately replaced by a hierarchy and traditional sex and social roles – but in a single-sex environment. Those at the top explained to her that it was just “more efficient” for them to walk around inspecting and holding meetings while others did all the cooking, cleaning and caring for the children. Those who did all that work just didn’t want to cause trouble, or didn’t mind, or didn’t want to be in charge anyway, or liked the work. Of course the more masculine lesbians also generously took on security duties (not that anyone bothered their camp, she had noticed). By the end of the summer they had what amounted to a “patriarchal” society, minus the patriarchs. Despite one young female classmate’s hopeful pleas that participants were just too conditioned by society, our Prof concluded that Orwell was right. All feminists are equal, but after a few weeks in the woods of Vermont apparently some are more equal than others.

    One other thing stayed with me about her confession, if you will. A few “womyn” there had the misfortune of accidentally conceiving boys but had decided that, rather than have an abortion, they would raise a “good” male (I’m not exaggerating). So they brought their little experiments to the camp – in long hair, dressed in girl’s dresses, with pink backpacks stuffed with dolls and etc. Even our professor couldn’t help betraying a smile, though, as she described the obvious humiliation and frustration these women experienced over the coming weeks. As soon as these boys gained a little freedom they promptly (almost instinctively, she said), bent their Barbie dolls at the waist in an “L” and, holding Barbie’s legs firmly, began chasing each other among the trees of Vermont, shouting “bang, bang, bang.” The horrified moms confiscated the dolls, which were consecutively replaced and confiscated by potato mashers, can openers, sticks – it didn’t matter. For six weeks this lasted, and I still get a chuckle when I think of it.

    It turns out that little boys play soldier – even boys in shoulder length hair who’ve been dressed their entire lives in pretty dresses and strictly kept from every hint of American culture. No amount of feminist hostility or lofty intellectualism can deter that male impulse – it’s an almost elemental force in these little guys, and the truth of it – and a brutish willingness to simply pick up another stick and keep on playing – eventually ground down the wills of these ridiculous women. Don’t get me wrong. I’m concerned about political correctness and its free speech like everybody else here. But I figure as long as we keep some little boys with sticks nearby to protect us we’ll be fine.

  14. parker Says:

    We will all be fine once DC is put back into the box intended by the Constitution. Until/if that happens all bets are off. I want to live to see such a day or at least my grandchildren see such a day. I fear that day will not arrive although I fear the bloodshed if it arrives. I am growing old and most of all fear to be too old to lend my trigger finger to the the next civil war.

    Make no mistake, it will happen… when it happens.

  15. charles Says:

    Many liberals were too busy re-writing, or making up, their own version of history to learn from real history. They should have listened to the words attributed to Martin Niemoeller:

    First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a Socialist.

    And then they came for the communists, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a communist.

    And then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a Jew.

    And, then they came for me; and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    Whether he actually said those words or not doesn’t matter. The idea behind them does.

    Most liberals didn’t bother to learn about him because they would have considered him to be a irrelevant dead white male anyway.

    Most liberals were too busy comparing Republicans and other conservatives to the Nazis to even notice they were becoming more like them each day.

  16. Beverly Says:

    I love a good Red on Red dogpile.


    Chait’s article is a good one to post on Faceplant, btw. The libbies might actually read it.

    Remember that deprogramming them will be a process of chipping away at the lies, bit by bit.

  17. NeoConScum Says:

    PC is lies, built upon Lies built upon LIES. I hate it more every day. What’s true has become forbidden and what’s false has become unassailable Fact. AGW anyone?

  18. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    Fourteen years as a Deputy Sheriff taught me that while there are some very, very nasty males out there, for true evil incarnate, you must turn to females.

  19. Beverly Says:

    Speaking of moral inversions: anyone else notice the hugely blatant and successful inversion of the beloved movie The Wizard of Oz? with an unambiguously and genuinely frightening villainess, the Wicked Witch?

    Well the Lefties have inverted that: they rewrote it so that the Wicked Witch was just a poor, pitiful victim of the REAL villainess: Glinda the Good Witch! and in their usual racist fashion, they make much of the fact that Glinda is a fair-skinned blonde with blue eyes and a white dress. So much whiteness; ick!

    Show is named “Wicked.” Which, of course, it is.

  20. Kerry Says:

    If Jonathan Chait or any other was asked, “What are human beings? Why are we here?”, or even just “Why is there something instead of nothing?”, could they answer beyond the explicitly material? We think not. I suggest thinking about this quote from JPII:
    “The fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decisions disappears.”
    —Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus
    If, as was written in some other place, “…created in the image and likeness of God”, and “as ye have done it to the least of these, ye have done it to Me”, then all this skin color crap is just nonsense.

  21. Anna Says:

    Most people I know are considerate and will not initiate nor favor arguments with a great potential to annoy or offend others’ sensibilities – should a discussion land there anyway, even in a friendly setting, a way out is typically improvised.

    This does not apply to such contexts as are set up with a purpose to serve as a platform for such discussions (be it in an academic setting, in an online community, in special-interest groups etc.). It is evident that, by entering there, one agrees to a somewhat different exchange, where general civility is hopefully upheld, but where one cannot pretend to be spared and has to expect at least some, if not much discomfort over the full intellectual force of the arguments and the potential emotional reaction. If one *cannot* take the heat, one should accept it as one’s own limitation and not enter such territories (rather than demand that *they* be changed to be more sparing of one’s feelings).

    To me, this binary system seems like a decent compromise – on the one hand, it is not PC and it allows for an honest confrontation; on the other hand, it designates a proper place for some kinds of confrontation and by doing so it abandons an immature pretense that everyone “ought” to publicly discuss such issues as are by their nature more intimate (sexuality, religion, even much politics).

    I do not like PC, but I *also* do not like the vulgar sort of “anti-PC” which shoves potentially problematic and highly divisive topics down everyone’s throats with little regard to propriety and to other people’s emotion and conscience.

  22. njartist49 Says:

    Ahh, but liberals/socialists do not believe in the “slippery slope;” perhaps we should use a term more in line with their “thinking:” “progressive slope.”

  23. Sergey Says:

    Kipling wrote: “female of the species is more deadly than the male”. He has a point. Who will expect even hint of chivalry from a bunch of ugly, sexually frustrated, disgruntled women when they are loosing their ideological battle? No more than from a company of scorpions in a jug.

  24. Sergey Says:

    And Kipling also clearly explained why it is so:
    “She is wedded to convictions – in default of grosser ties;
    Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him, who denies!
    He will meet no cool discussion, but the instant, white-hot wild
    Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

  25. NeoConScum Says:

    Shocked am I at the horrendously Un-PC talk about the Human Female here. I’ve long enjoyed telling men of ‘yoot about the African Lions: Those big, husky handsome, scary Guy Lions are stretched out in the shade of some trees overlooking The Great Rift Valley…Yhey’re having a wonderful Guy Time telling stories of Great Hunts and comparing footages of Guy Lion Things. Meanwhile, half a mile away, a lioness bursts from some tall grass and brings down an antelope. Baa-Daa-Bing. Dinner.

    That’s it. Questions?

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