Fascinatingly, certain devotees of political correctness have recently gone to the trouble of arguing that deploring political correctness is a “scientifically bogus” (nothing-to-see-here-move-along) behavior.
But wild swings in public opinion don’t come out of nowhere. They don’t come from reasoned debate. They require mass psychological manipulation and political conditioning. Or, as Daniel Henninger so aptly pointed out in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, policies like the kangaroo courts on American campuses to enforce Title IX cases “don’t emerge from political debate [but] from a kind of Americanized Maoism.”
This Maoist-style manipulation is what political correctness is all about. It has played a major role in getting a lot of Americans compliant with a host of policies they would otherwise reject.
But a funny thing is happening on the way to the 2016 election. The Donald Trump and Ben Carson phenomena reveal a high level of fatigue with political correctness. Americans have had it with the shopworn PC labels of “bigot” or “hater” that the media machine readily bestows upon skeptics of the big government agendas it invariably pushes. More people are openly rejecting the thought reform agitprop that we euphemistically call political correctness.
Trump has been most outspoken about the noxious effects of political correctness. His openness about it has caught on with a lot of folks, whatever his motive may be. But Carson has been making the case against political correctness for a longer time, most notably in his keynote speech to the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast as President and First Lady Obama sat right there next to him.
Other candidates are following suit. As more people point out political correctness as a naked emperor, more people become emboldened to say what’s on their minds. That’s scary stuff for central planners, who depend on political conditioning. So scary, in fact, it has led to a counterattack by those invested in the mass compliance that political correctness evokes.
The Manipulators Attempt to Rescue Political Correctness
Cass Sunstein, who was Obama’s regulatory czar during 2009-2012 and a maven of behavior modification, basically argued in Bloomberg News that any call-out of political correctness is itself political correctness—and a right-wing racket to boot! His op-ed involves a lot of psychological projection and victim blaming that smokescreens the very real damage that political correctness has done to civil discourse. In a nutshell, it’s Orwellian doublespeak.
Another recent example of the backlash against PC awareness is a commentary by Robert Kuttner, which basically ties charges of political correctness to middle-class hetero white guys who resent being displaced by, say, lesbians and blacks. He promises to “dig deeper,” but basically delivers another politically correct argument invested in propping up the diktat of political correctness. Real conversationalists need not apply.
But such counterattacks are inevitable. Political correctness—i.e., political conditioning—has long been a prime agitprop tool of power elites for manufacturing huge swings in public opinion that amount to a sort of mass programming project.
These shifts happen via Hollywood catalysts, cultivating memes in education, political conditioning from the media, and countless nudges in daily life that force compliance with all of the above. A case in point is how the notion of same-sex marriage came about through the conditioning of constant propaganda and agitation. The same process is happening again big time with the transgender project, which is busy pushing to put laws on the books in all states that make mis-gendering someone a criminal offense. (The fine in New York is reportedly up to $250,000.)
Mass Conditioning and Mass Delusion
We are in a precarious place as a nation if we don’t eschew the machinations of political correctness. To better understand it all, we might ask ourselves this question: how does an entire nation get on board with rejecting a reality they’ve held in common for millennia? How do you get them not only to reject the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but then immediately reject the physical reality of male and female as well?
In fact, tomorrow it could just as easily be the idea that everyone has the right to design a child to have three legs or three eyes—or no legs or no eyes. The process of accepting the implausible as plausible is the same. Americans have proven they are quite capable of rapidly trading in their eye rolls for hearty applause on any given issue.
Furthermore, the compliance we are seeing is certainly not the live-and-let-live approval LGBT activists loudly claimed to be fighting for at the start. Rather, this brand of “approval” is a package deal that requires all members of society to vilify and socially exterminate anybody who holds an opposing view—or, as in the case of Brendan Eich, who was forced to resign as CEO of Mozilla, anybody who can be discovered through a database to have privately expressed opposition at some time in the past.
Ultimately, the clear purpose of political correctness—and all of the agenda items it pushes—is to get Americans on board with a host of censorship laws that require thought reform and promote central planning. The process involves cultivating the fine art of self-censorship in our daily lives.
PC Is Censorship, and It Uses ‘Discrimination’ Laws
Censorship laws? Well, we can’t exactly call them that, can we? Not yet, anyway. Instead we call them “sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) anti-discrimination laws.” This is designed to appeal not just to someone’s sense of fairness, but mostly to his or her fear of demonization, to make sure everyone—no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity—complies with government monitoring of their personal conversations and social interactions. That is essentially how these laws apply to every single business owner, teacher, student, homeowner, doctor—well, every single American.
SOGI laws have zero to do with equal rights for anybody. Rather, the effect is censorship—and nothing but censorship. In fact, we shouldn’t be discussing anything but censorship when discussing these laws. Anything else is entirely beside the point, because there are already laws against discrimination on the books. The only real effect of SOGI laws is to enforce government censorship on a mass scale and to dismantle the autonomy of businesses and private life.
So opponents of these laws must go totally on offense and force SOGI advocates to publicly admit their obvious push towards mass censorship and dismantling of autonomy for all Americans. They are shamelessly using gays and transgender individuals as pawns to push for these censorship laws. Any other approach more visibly props up mass censorship. SOGI censorship laws will end up codified at the federal level if Congress passes the Orwellian-named “Equality Act.”
How can such a thing happen in the United States of America? It is happening through something called an “availability cascade.” Sunstein, along with social economist Timur Kuran, explained this process some 20 years ago in an article in the Stanford Law Review. To make an implausible idea seem plausible to people, you have to first make the idea “available” by repeatedly injecting it into public discourse. We see this today as Hollywood saturates us with all things transgender. This is how you cultivate what the article calls “collective belief formation.”
Ad Hominem Ad Nauseum
Take an idea, any idea, no matter how far-fetched, and just keep injecting it into public discourse. Make sure the communications outlets repeat their attacks on dissenters, taking the ad hominem ad nauseum approach. Over time, especially if you have control of all of the channels of communication—particularly Hollywood, academia, and the media (to which I’ve ascribed the acronym HAM)—a sense of its acceptability gets programmed into American minds.
Let’s say you want to spread the idea that elective amputation of your limbs is a positive and empowering act. And let’s say you want to teach it in schools within comprehensive health education. This may seem unlikely, for the moment. But it is quite doable if you have control of the HAM outlets, especially with celebrity endorsements.
If you can get Annie Lebowitz to do a sympathetic photo shoot for a Vanity Fair cover story of a famous personage who elected to be an amputee, you’re in business. But you must require the suppression and demonization of all opposition to your idea. Enlisting trolls and Twitterbots to suppress any skepticism will help, but one can never be too careful if reality lurks in the minds of one’s fellow Americans.
It’s all carrot and stick. If people feel they’ll be socially rewarded by echoing the trending viewpoint, they’ll falsify what they really believe to get some pats on the back. Likewise, if they fear being socially rejected for expressing their concerns, they’ll shut up. As HAM forces conjure up this self-censorship scheme, pretty soon you have a spiral of silence that creates the illusion the propagandized view is actually trending higher in public opinion. Tease it out some more with the saturation-suppression propaganda machine, and public policy follows suit.
Can People Be Conditioned to Do Anything?
Is it really possible to get a whole society to go along with anything? For example, could we really get an epidemic of elective amputations if they were propagandized as something that would get you loved and appreciated? Well, why not?
What about suicides? There is already a well-known phenomenon of copycat suicides called the Werther Effect. No doubt it can be further romanticized and taken to new levels, especially as assisted suicide is in the process of being glamorized and supported by more and more governors. We see it being increasingly portrayed as a good thing, an act of self-determination. Assisted or not, the effect is that it goads more people into compliance with their own preemptive deaths.
It only took about a decade to reverse millennia of universal consensus on the definition of marriage, and nary a year for transgenderism. So if you don’t think parents can be forced to comply with letting schools teach gender confusion and elective mutilation to their children, think again.
Consider also that during the show trials of the 1930s, several of Joseph Stalin’s henchmen confessed to crimes they didn’t commit, even asking for their own executions as enemies of the people.
Consider also that the German nation accepted the mass killing of its own citizens. With the help of the Nazis’ PC propaganda machine, it was no big deal to them. The same kind of mass compliance exists today under other totalitarian regimes, whether led by ISIS or Kim Jong-Un.
Mass psychology exists, folks. Thought reform is easily teased out through propaganda, especially when the audience is a society ignorant of the effects of propaganda. People can be conditioned to accept anything a controlled media and propaganda machine tells them to accept on pain of social ostracism.
Call me Cassandra, but if you don’t think the worst can happen in America, you’re kidding yourself. We are only exceptional because we have a history of resisting coercive thought reform. When we stop resisting it, we cease being exceptional. In a free society, political correctness operates simply as a weapon in a war of attrition against free thinking. So we must persist in our willingness to call people out on their attempts at conditioning us through manipulative propaganda.
Daniel Henninger noted that 2015 would go on record as “the year political correctness finally hit the wall.” Let’s hope so. If nothing else, Carson and Trump have changed the terms of the debate and have given voice to those who might have otherwise succumbed. That is a very good thing. But we must never stop talking.