The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Political Correctness-Revisited

Political correctness presents many in the population with cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, the claims of the politically correct—on race, on gender, on history, on climate, on unrestricted immigration, on Islam, on privilege, on anything—are deemed to be sacrosanct. If any of those claims are challenged, the person doing the challenging is somehow a bad guy—a "racist," a "misogynist," a "bigot," or an "extremist." But on the other hand, our own experiences and observations of the world, not to mention critical thinking and that elusive quality called "common sense," indicate repeatedly that many politically correct claims are ... well ... not in sync with the real world.

Let's take two examples. Recent reports about Germany indicate an significant rise in anti-semitic attacks over the past few years. The German government under Angela Merkel is the epitome of political correctness and attributes the attacks to "right-wing extremism." But who is perpetrating the attacks? We're not supposed to ask, because the answer creates problems for two memes that are cornerstones of political correctness: the benefits of unconstrained immigration and the celebration of Islam as the "religion of peace." In reality, the attacks have increased because some (possibly many) recent Muslim immigrants have an established culture of "Jew hatred" that has translated into broad-based anti-Semitism. The same situation can be found in France, where anti-Semitic instances (including the recent murder of a 85-year old Holocaust survivor) are on the rise. Same situation and same perpetrators that PC-think demands not be identified by group or origin.

The PC brigades rightly warn us not to generalize, but because we are forbidden from identifying the perpetrators of the problem based on hard, irrefutable evidence, we cannot possibly work to solve it. Even worse, because we are not allowed to identify the groups involved, we cannot demand that leaders of those groups act to correct the problem within the group that they lead.

Now to a second example. The catechism of political correctness demands that we agree that everyone is absolutely, positively, unequivocally created equal—that it's all about nurture and "privilege" and has nothing whatsoever to do with biology or genetics. Most people who haven't taken a long drink of the P.C. kool-aid know this to be untrue. In both the physical and the intellectual arenas, there are obvious and irrefutable differences among groups that cannot be attributed to the upbringing or environment alone. Progressive commentator Andrew Sullivan comments:
Last weekend, a rather seismic op-ed appeared in the New York Times, and it was for a while one of the most popular pieces in the newspaper. It’s by David Reich, a professor of genetics at Harvard, who carefully advanced the case that there are genetic variations between subpopulations of humans, that these are caused, as in every other species, by natural selection, and that some of these variations are not entirely superficial and do indeed overlap with our idea of race. This argument should not be so controversial — every species is subject to these variations — and yet it is. For many on the academic and journalistic left, genetics are deemed largely irrelevant when it comes to humans. Our large brains and the societies we have constructed with them, many argue, swamp almost all genetic influences.

Humans, in this view, are the only species on Earth largely unaffected by recent (or ancient) evolution, the only species where, for example, the natural division of labor between male and female has no salience at all, the only species, in fact, where natural variations are almost entirely social constructions, subject to reinvention. We are, in this worldview, alone on the planet, born as blank slates, to be written on solely by culture. All differences between men and women are a function of this social effect; as are all differences between the races. If, in the aggregate, any differences in outcome between groups emerge, it is entirely because of oppression, patriarchy, white supremacy, etc. And it is a matter of great urgency that we use whatever power we have to combat these inequalities.

Reich simply points out that this utopian fiction is in danger of collapse because it is not true and because genetic research is increasingly proving it untrue...

This [40,000 years of human evolution] will lead to subtle variations in human brains, and thereby differences in intelligence tests, which will affect social and economic outcomes in the aggregate in a multiracial, capitalist, post-industrial society. The danger in actively suppressing and stigmatizing this inconvenient truth, he maintains, is that a responsible treatment of these genetic influences will be siloed in the academic field of genetics, will be rendered too toxic for public debate, and will thereby only leak out to people in the outside world via the worst kind of racists and bigots who will distort these truths to their own ends. If you don’t establish a reasonable forum for debate on this, Reich argues, if you don’t establish the principle is that we do not have to be afraid of any of this, it will be monopolized by truly unreasonable and indeed dangerous racists. And those racists will have the added prestige for their followers of revealing forbidden knowledge. And so there are two arguments against the suppression of this truth and the stigmatization of its defenders: that it’s intellectually dishonest and politically counterproductive.
But political correctness is all about "actively suppressing and stigmatizing" truths that do not fit a particular meme, and even worse, barring any debate (by aggressively attacking those who want to ask questions or raise important objections) that might call the meme into question. As Sullivan states, it's "dishonest and politically counterproductive." It's also Just. Plain. Wrong.