Crossing the microaggressions minefield Oct 5, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 04 • By MATT LABASH
Don’t take this the wrong way, but are you offended? I know I haven’t said anything yet, but it’s never too early to be aggrieved. Studies I’ve invented, since we’re all entitled to our own facts these days, show that 4 out of 10 Americans are offended by something at all times. Ten out of 10, if they’re taking a course containing the word “intersectional” at Swarthmore.
Many of us who came of age on a college campus in the early nineties mistakenly believed that full-throttle political correctness was too insidious, not to mention too exhausting, to follow us into the new century. Person, were we wrong. See what had to be done there? Under the new rules, I had to insert “person,” a non-binary, gender-neutral noun, so as not to offend people with the expression “man,” the preferred signifier of oppression of a white heteronormative cis-male member of the Kyriarchy. (I only understood about half that sentence myself, but I’m assured that everything in it is bad.)
Like New Kids on the Block or high-waisted shorts—other ’90s relics we’d left for dead that didn’t quite stay that way—political correctness is back with murder in its eyes. In our newly minted Cocked Fist Culture, the question when confronting nearly anything—a book, a film, an overheard comment on a Privilege Walk—is “Is this problematic?” Though it would save time to simply ask, “What isn’t?”
So problematic have the problem-miners become that my former colleague Sonny Bunch, now of the Washington Free Beacon, launched his own “Everything’s A Problem” Tumblr. Written in the scolding voice of the problem-miners themselves, each news item/outrage-du-jour arrives pre-satirized. The blog is only six months old, and was supposed to be a toss-off hobby. Yet Bunch has cranked out 142 posts, so many that I find it problematic keeping up with them. For as advertised, everything is problematic: from Caitlyn Jenner being called attractive (“We’ve smuggled in the same old cis/Eurocentric narratives about womanhood,” huffed the HuffPost’s Marc Lamont Hill) to New Yorker cartoons (94.7 of their characters are white, according to the Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science, it now being considered essential to count such things).
The Cocked Fist Culture has turned into an ouroboros, except the snake is well past swallowing its own tail. It’s eaten its way clean up to mid-sternum. Recent books across the political spectrum have extensively documented this turn, notably Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson’s End of Discussion on the right and Kirsten Powers’s The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech on the center-left. Though the outrage industrial complex shows no sign of shrinking, some thought a high-water mark had been reached earlier this year when Jonathan Chait, a New York writer and reliable liberal, broke ranks, accusing his own team of ideological repression through all the thought-and-speech policing. He charged that the hijacked left had adopted the modus operandi of old-line smash-mouth Marxists, who’ve always been contemptuous of mainstream liberalism’s tendency to enshrine dissent. The present left merely swaps Marxist preoccupation with economics for race-and-gender-identity fetishization.
While some on the right gave Chait a swat for sniffily arriving a quarter-century late to the anti-p.c. party, his comrades lined up to steamroll him. Amanda Taub, Vox’s self-described “senior sadness correspondent,” responded that there’s no such thing as political correctness. Even using the term is just a way “to dismiss a concern or demand as a frivolous grievance rather than a real issue,” a device “often used by those in a position of privilege to silence debates raised by marginalized people.” A sentence that sounded suspiciously like it had been written by a political-correctness meme generator. The kind that Orwell described as prose consisting “less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a pre-fabricated hen-house.”
7:14 AM, Apr 22, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Speaking Tuesday at the 45th Annual Washington Conference of the Council of the Americas, Secretary of State John Kerry said that "countries are far more likely to advance economically and socially when citizens have faith in their governments and are able to rely on them for justice and equal treatment under the law." Kerry said that a "new kind of relationship" with Latin American countries, emphasizing democracy and human rights, will contribute to "our common ag
Schools of social work are silencing conservatives. Apr 6, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 29 • By DEVORAH GOLDMAN
"I can’t have you participate in class anymore.”
I was on my way out of class when my social welfare and policy professor casually called me over to tell me this. The friendliness of her tone did not match her words, and I attempted a shocked, confused apology. It was my first semester at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and I was as yet unfamiliar with the consistent, underlying threat that characterized much of the school’s policy and atmosphere. This professor was simply more open and direct than most.
A magazine of ideas without ideas.5:20 PM, Dec 10, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
If Chris Hughes knew anything about journalism, he’d throw a big party in New York and another in Washington and the media wags now heaping abuse on him would be hailing him as the last of the Medicis. But the 31-year-old owner and editor in chief of the New Republic doesn’t know a damn thing about journalism, which is why scores of hungry and thirsty journalists won’t shut up.
Remember the liberal war on the automobile? Feb 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 23 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Seems like this is the season for showing the American automobile some love. Also, the town that the automobile built—Detroit, aka the Motor City, where packs of feral dogs now roam the streets and den up in vacant lots between the abandoned buildings. Detroit, these days, seems far more deserving of pity than celebration.
Still, Vice President Joe Biden showed up for the annual Detroit auto show in January and delivered the usual talking points. American manufacturing is back. “We bet on American ingenuity, we bet on you, and we won.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:35 PM, Dec 31, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol with a look back at 2013 and how President Obama's liberalism fared this year.
Obamacare is inimical to their values, tooDec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By CHRISTOPHER DEMUTH SR.
Obamacare may or may not survive its inauspicious beginnings. It has become dangerously unpopular and accident-prone and faces a minefield of difficulties. Still, the Obama administration has a plausible strategy: to titrate the program’s numerous taxes, subsidies, mandates, and restrictions so as to forestall immediate legislative or electoral reversal, thereby entrenching its basic structure for tightening as future circumstances permit.
8:15 AM, Nov 28, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
On the one hand, this is a pretty dour Thanksgiving. Iran has just won an enormous diplomatic victory, which not only sets them on the road to nuclear weapons but makes the fecklessness of the Western powers clear to the world. Harry Reid's decision to destroy the filibuster signals an escalation in the ugliness of American politics. And let's not forget that we're still mired in a recovery that's looking more like the new normal with each passing week. Humbug.
Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By PETER WEHNER
The president’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is in serious trouble. As a result, so is modern liberalism. The problems with Obamacare are increasingly obvious, beginning with the administration unilaterally delaying the employer mandate. But that turned out to be merely one link in a long and troublesome chain.
11:13 AM, Sep 12, 2013 • By JONATHAN BRONITSKY
Hardly an academic semester goes by without a high-profile opportunity arising for the right to address pervasive, perennial anti-conservative animus on the American college campus. And hardly an academic semester goes by without the right, reflexively blinded by righteous indignation, blowing an opportunity to do so.
No, but it doesn’t understand them. Jul 8, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 41 • By PETER BERKOWITZ
Study of the humanities has never been more important to the welfare of the nation. Information whizzes by at breakneck speed. The contest between conservative and progressive visions of government’s scope and aim in a free society implicates rival understandings of human nature. The ways of life of people in far-off lands have direct impact on our prosperity and security.
An Obama administration ‘blueprint’ targets free expression on campuses. Jun 10, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 37 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
It's a well-known fact that on most college campuses, supposedly havens of academic freedom, you really have to watch what you say.
Alas, the Woody Guthrie industry unearths a novel. Apr 15, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 29 • By MICHAEL WARREN
To many in our cultural elite, Woody Guthrie is an American saint. The legendary songwriter from Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, is introduced to every American child by way of his folk anthem “This Land Is Your Land.” But for gatekeepers of the arts, Guthrie is much more: All of his work—every song, every article, every poem—is good and honest and true, the gospel according to Woody. What other justification is there for the release of this deservedly long-lost novel?