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The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education

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"The classics of Western culture are out, not being taught, replaced by second-rate and Third World texts. White males are a victimized minority on campuses across the country, thanks to affirmative action. Speech codes have silenced anyone who won’t toe the liberal line. Feminists, wielding their brand of sexual correctness, have taken over." These are among the prevalent "The classics of Western culture are out, not being taught, replaced by second-rate and Third World texts. White males are a victimized minority on campuses across the country, thanks to affirmative action. Speech codes have silenced anyone who won’t toe the liberal line. Feminists, wielding their brand of sexual correctness, have taken over." These are among the prevalent myths about higher education that John K. Wilson explodes. The phrase "political correctness" is on everyone’s lips, on radio and television, and in newspapers and magazines. The phenomenon itself, however, has been deceptively described. Wilson steps into the nation’s favorite cultural fray to reveal that many of the most widely publicized anecdotes about PC are in fact more myth than reality. Based on his own experience as a student and in-depth research, he shows what’s really going on beneath the hysteria and alarmism about political correctness and finds that the most disturbing examples of thought policing on campus have come from the right. The image of the college campus as a gulag of left-wing totalitarianism is false, argues Wilson, created largely through the exaggeration of deceptive stories by conservatives who hypocritically seek to silence their political opponents. Many of today’s most controversial topics are here: multiculturalism, reverse discrimination, speech codes, date rape, and sexual harassment. So are the well-recognized protagonists in the debate: Dinesh D’Souza, William Bennett, and Lynne Cheney, among others. In lively fashion and in meticulous detail, Wilson compares fact to fiction and lays one myth after another to rest, revealing the double standard that allows "conservative correctness" on college campuses to go unchallenged.


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"The classics of Western culture are out, not being taught, replaced by second-rate and Third World texts. White males are a victimized minority on campuses across the country, thanks to affirmative action. Speech codes have silenced anyone who won’t toe the liberal line. Feminists, wielding their brand of sexual correctness, have taken over." These are among the prevalent "The classics of Western culture are out, not being taught, replaced by second-rate and Third World texts. White males are a victimized minority on campuses across the country, thanks to affirmative action. Speech codes have silenced anyone who won’t toe the liberal line. Feminists, wielding their brand of sexual correctness, have taken over." These are among the prevalent myths about higher education that John K. Wilson explodes. The phrase "political correctness" is on everyone’s lips, on radio and television, and in newspapers and magazines. The phenomenon itself, however, has been deceptively described. Wilson steps into the nation’s favorite cultural fray to reveal that many of the most widely publicized anecdotes about PC are in fact more myth than reality. Based on his own experience as a student and in-depth research, he shows what’s really going on beneath the hysteria and alarmism about political correctness and finds that the most disturbing examples of thought policing on campus have come from the right. The image of the college campus as a gulag of left-wing totalitarianism is false, argues Wilson, created largely through the exaggeration of deceptive stories by conservatives who hypocritically seek to silence their political opponents. Many of today’s most controversial topics are here: multiculturalism, reverse discrimination, speech codes, date rape, and sexual harassment. So are the well-recognized protagonists in the debate: Dinesh D’Souza, William Bennett, and Lynne Cheney, among others. In lively fashion and in meticulous detail, Wilson compares fact to fiction and lays one myth after another to rest, revealing the double standard that allows "conservative correctness" on college campuses to go unchallenged.

35 review for The Myth of Political Correctness: The Conservative Attack on Higher Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pavol Hardos

    If this book were more widely known and read, it should have single-handedly ended the whole “political correctness” discourse. Sadly, here we still are, talking about ‘PC’ as if it were a real thing and not a rhetorical device invented by reactionary preoccupations and paranoias about changing social and linguistic mores. The word myth in the title is well-deserved – there is nothing real about ‘PC’, it’s a religious belief and an ideological projection at best and a craven rhetorical device of If this book were more widely known and read, it should have single-handedly ended the whole “political correctness” discourse. Sadly, here we still are, talking about ‘PC’ as if it were a real thing and not a rhetorical device invented by reactionary preoccupations and paranoias about changing social and linguistic mores. The word myth in the title is well-deserved – there is nothing real about ‘PC’, it’s a religious belief and an ideological projection at best and a craven rhetorical device of the opportunists at worst. Wilson does a great job of explaining and contextualizing everything you need to know about the historical origins of the “political correctness” phenomenon – that the 80s and 90s higher education culture wars were basically a conservative assault on humanities, academic freedom, and progressive values. To be clear, Wilson does not offer a detailed theoretical account – this is more of a journalistic analysis. But he has all the receipts. He doesn’t just explain the basics, he gives multiple examples – sometimes dozens where a handful would have sufficed. He is detailed to the point of being exhaustive. But you do not get bored by the relentless stream of examples he brings – you get increasingly outraged. That is perhaps the one major thing you take away from this book, 24 years after it was published, the simple outraged question: how the hell could anyone who pushed the notion of "political correctness" (and its associated concerns) as a crucial social issue of the day have ever been taken seriously again!? How did these people who have done so much brazen lying, bullshitting, and grandstanding not become social pariahs? It’s as if the myth of political correctness was willed into existence as a collective fear its authors harbored about their own deserved fates, their collective psyches’ projection of their moral failure to adhere to any decent standard of intellectual work. And then you remember the current social moment and remember that nothing really changed. If anything, it’s gotten worse. You almost feel sorry their fears weren’t a bit more grounded. If at least 10% of the projected horrors about the dangers of ‘PC’ had any real social relevance, if lying and ideological gaslighting really carried some degree of potential for social disapprobation, or – ah, be steady my utopian heart – ostracism, then at least the authors of the ‘PC’ panic would today be the deserved social outcasts, instead of respected opinion-makers, bestselling authors, and eternally-quoted intellectuals they still are today. Talking earnestly about political correctness should make one a laughingstock, not a respected pundit. This book shows why. It was published in 1995. Now if only everyone caught up. Instead one could write companion volumes on all the crap produced since then, including about the recent years of paranoia about feminism & #metoo, or the twitter mobs and ‘cancel culture’. The myth of ‘PC’ seems destined to stay around – and the reasons why might require an ideological and perhaps an anthropological reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Parag

    This was a great book, I once owned. But I lent it to someone I was working with and never got it back. That was 1995, and since then, I've come to realize (through a wonderfully wise neighbor we had in Brooklyn) that I shouldn't care so much about worldly possessions, and especially things like books, and I should share and be happy with the knowledge passing forward and onward. I'm still a little bitter, it seems, because I'm still writing about it in a space that should be a book review. Or m This was a great book, I once owned. But I lent it to someone I was working with and never got it back. That was 1995, and since then, I've come to realize (through a wonderfully wise neighbor we had in Brooklyn) that I shouldn't care so much about worldly possessions, and especially things like books, and I should share and be happy with the knowledge passing forward and onward. I'm still a little bitter, it seems, because I'm still writing about it in a space that should be a book review. Or maybe this is procrastination. Anyway - this book is a takedown of Dinesh D'Souza's first book, Illiberal Education, which is: 1) an "analysis" of how higher education has been taken over by the far left (this was written in the early 90s, I think), and 2) a book I haven't read, but I bought for $1 in the Poconos in hardcover. I guess I was rescuing the poor, misguided dude, but now I have the D'Souza book on my shelf and not the response to it. Anyway, for anyone out there who hates being labeled "politically correct" for talking about speech and its effects on peoples, groups, cultures, and the ways in which speech and language can easily be used as tools of oppression, this is a good read - it both takes down D'Souza and outlines how the idea of "political correctness" as a movement is something that was created by the far right, or at least shaped therein. The book posits that rather than focus on the content of the criticism of insensitive/bias-motivated speech, the right has turned it into a "mind/thought police" issue. Granted some people definitely go too far with just looking at words rather than meaning or intent, but the book says "yo, there's not a PC movement." To which I say, long live the mainframe. Damnit. Mixed my metaphors again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Serval Spots

    This book must be read in the context of the time at which it was written, and with a critical eye.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kenny Cordasco

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  6. 4 out of 5

    Syed Nadeem

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christy

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ed Pokusa

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robert Williamson

  10. 5 out of 5

    A. Wesley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Roddy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lee Spivey

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian Niebuhr

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brad Collins

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jen Chau

  20. 4 out of 5

    dojodo

  21. 5 out of 5

    Philomath

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robyn Overstreet

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ron

  26. 5 out of 5

    tom bomp

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rose

  28. 4 out of 5

    Byzantine

  29. 5 out of 5

    SouthHouse

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zeus Lumumba

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ellianna

  32. 4 out of 5

    BookDB

  33. 5 out of 5

    Riley

  34. 5 out of 5

    Cory Brunson

  35. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

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