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Insofar as something called "political correctness" proscribes certain opinions from being expressed and debated, every critical thinker should be against it - for the reasons explained by J.S. Mill.
Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion - Chapter 2 of On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
Absolute classic. Timeless demonstration of the evils of restraining speech because the speech is supposedly false, offensive, pernicious other otherwise undesirable. If only the evangelists of political correctitude had read and properly understood this great work...
The Culture Cult
Website presenting a lifetime's worth of acerbic writings by anthropologist Roger Sandall. "The Culture Cult is about romantic primitivism—the belief that traditional ethnic cultures provide a better home for humanity, more fair, more healthy, more harmonious, than today's free and open civilization. In fact, traditional cultures usually have most of the following: domestic oppression, endemic disease, poverty, clan enmity, violence, religious intolerance, and severe artistic constraints. If you want to live a full life, then modern civilization—not romantic ethnicity—deserves your thoughtful vote." [10 May 04]
The Sydney Line
If you thought there was little more to Sydney than an Opera House, try this: a website presenting chiefly the writings of that audaciously incorrect historian Keith Windschuttle, and more general an attitude or philosophy Windschuttle sees as distinctively Sydneyesque. The website also promotes the ideas and writings of the brilliant Australian philosopher David Stove. [22 June 04]
Note: I don't always agree with the opinions expressed in these essays. I recommend them because they challenge or discuss political correctness in interesting ways.
Why Don't They Listen to Us? Speaking to the Working Class by Lillian B. Rubin
Thoughtful essay on the role of political correctness in the political Left's loss of connection with the people it supposedly supports. [9 Mar 05]
Tuskegee re-examined by Richard A Shweder
Challenges the dominant conception of the famous Tuskegee study as outrageous racial exploitation. A beautifully crafted piece of critical thinking and writing. Exhibits many epistemic virtues: is cautiously skeptical; questions the official, "correct" stance; does basic research in pursuit of proper evidence; considers alternatives; maintains objectivity and distance. His talk of narratives and counter-narratives is not to my taste, but is only a minor blemish. [22 Jan 04]
The slyer virus: The West's anti-westernism by Mark Steyn
Brilliant, profound and very funny - albeit painfully so. Steyn diagnoses myriad follies, intellectual and otherwise, surrounding the West's tendency to put itself down. No single excerpt can do this lengthy essay justice, but here is a taste: "This then is the paradox of the most successful culture in history: the “Anglo-Saxon fetish” and its attendant liberties have enabled more people to live their lives in freedom, health, and material comfort. Yet at the same time no other culture works so hard to deny its achievements and its heritage, to insist there must be a catch, there’s gotta be an alternative. There isn’t..." [11 Mar 02]
The Great Tattling Scare on Campuses by Daphne Patai
Excoriates politically-correct academics for double-standards: speech should be free (but only when it is in line with our opinions.) "When Web sites are formed to offer an alternative space for airing complaints about professors who foist their political views on students, the sites are accused of impeding academic freedom and stifling free speech on campus -- the very same kind of speech that campus activists are happy to curtail in the service of their pet ideologies." [5 Feb 03]
Multiculturalists are the real racists by Mark Steyn
Another biting discussion from Steyn. Western societies have a Muslim rape problem, which is fostered by multiculturalist pieties and denials. "I'm not a racist, only a culturist. I believe Western culture -- rule of law, universal suffrage, etc. -- is preferable to Arab culture: that's why there are millions of Muslims in Scandinavia, and four Scandinavians in Syria. Follow the traffic. I support immigration, but with assimilation. Without it, like a Hindu widow, we're slowly climbing on the funeral pyre of our lost empires. You see it in European foreign policy already: they're scared of their mysterious, swelling, unstoppable Muslim populations." [8 Oct 02]
The Elephant in the Sacristy by Mary Eberstadt
Argues that we ought to be able to speak the truth about the sexual abuse problem in the Catholic Church in the US: that it is largely a matter of homosexuality. "We must be able to call the elephant by its name. The real problem facing the American Catholic church is that a great many boys have been seduced or forced into homosexual acts by certain priests; that these offenders appear to have been disproportionately represented in certain seminaries; and that their case histories open questions about sexuality that--verboten though they may have become--demand to be reexamined." [14 Jun 02]
All cultures are not equal by Kenan Malik
"To regard people as 'temporarily backward' rather than 'permanently different' is to accept that while people are potentially equal, cultures definitely are not; it is to accept the idea of social and moral progress; that it would be far better if everybody had the chance to live in the type of society or culture that best promoted human advancement. But it's just these ideas - and the very act of making judgements about beliefs, values, lifestyles, and cultures - that are now viewed as politically uncouth..." [1 Jun 02]
Murder in Holland by Rod Dreher
Illuminating discussion of the assassination of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. "Fortuyn may or may not be a martyr in the war against fundamentalist Islam, but he is almost certainly a martyr in the war on political correctness. European populations are aging, and cannot maintain their welfare states without massive immigration; immigration from Islamic countries threatens to change European values inalterably. Fortuyn said Europe cannot avoid confronting these realities." [9 May 02]
I Am a Racially Profiling Doctor by Sally Satel
"the public seems to have embraced the idea of colorblind medicine...But in this case, the public is wrong. As rough a biological classification as race may be, doctors must not be blind to its clinical implications. So much of medicine is a guessing game -- and race sometimes provides an invaluable clue. As citizens, we can celebrate our genetic similarity as evidence of our spiritual kinship. As doctors and patients, though, we must realize that it is not in patients' best interests to deny the reality of differences."
[7 May 02]
The Taboos of Touch by Debbie Nathan
"Decisions about what constitutes science and scholarship -- not to mention mainstream American values -- are being dictated by Bible-thumpers, talk-show martinets and proponents of questionable therapy." [23 Apr 02]
In Praise of Bad Habits by Peter Marsh
Excellent essay arguing aginst "healthism," political correctness in the domain of health, diet and lifestyle. "[The] pursuit of novel, narrow concepts of so-called 'health' and 'fitness' has led us to create new outcasts - those who fail to conform to the increasing catalogue of prescriptions for what is 'best for us' - those who, contrary to the advice of self-appointed arbiters of modern rectitude, persist with 'bad habits'."
Civilization Envy by Jonah Goldberg
"Someone once noted that a "gaffe" in Washington is when a politician accidentally tells the truth... While critics have called his remarks "unacceptable," "barbaric," "silly," and — of course — "racist," I am at a loss to find a single untrue word in his remarks...". See also and Who Are We to Judge? and Truth Makes a Comeback.
Talk Show by Peter Beinart in The New Republic
"We should be wary of the argument that safety during times of war requires restrictions on free speech; such restrictions are usually just a way to protect the government from legitimate criticism.... But you don't have much credibility on that point unless you're equally wary of censoring language that offends ethnic and racial minorities. And, for the last 20 years, the left hasn't been wary of that at all--quite the contrary."
What Fresh Hell Is This? A Guy Marooned in Women's Studies by Eric Adler
Describes how a "supportive" and/or "progressive" intellectual culture can kill critical thinking. Concerning this piece, I received the following email:
As an academician, and someone sincerely interested in critical thinking in higher education, I was extremely offended when I read an article found on your Web site for "Critical Thinking on the Web: A Directory of Quality Online Resources." I know the importance of freedom of the press but I fail to understand your support of the article, "What Fresh Hell Is This? A Guy Marooned in Women's Studies," by Eric Adler. This article has nothing to do with critical thinking. If you haven't read it, do so. This type of article has no place being published by an institution of higher learning in the guise of critical thinking. Allowing your site as a conduit to publish articles that degrade women in the manner described in the article is not appropriate.
Ann B. Pushkin, Ph.D., CPA
Ann B. Pushkin
306 College of Bus & Econ
West Virginia University
Morgantown WV 26506-6025
I don't think I really need to respond; Mill already said it all much better than I can.
"An occasional magazine issued on the Internet, pinc confronts political correctness, taboo subjects and latter-day shibboleths. Race, intelligence, feminism, postmodernism, higher education, speech codes and more." [Seems to be defunct - no new material added since 2000 - TvG]
Pious Fantasies. Review of Teresi's Lost Discoveries, by Norman Levitt
Scathing review of yet another bout of Western self-flagellation. Levitt has a very sharp pen, though his style can be somewhat florid. "this book is an intellectual disaster and, worse, a moral disaster. The homiletics of officially sanctioned "diversity" are glibly indifferent to the soundness of the intellectual currency and resonate with an exceedingly narrow notion of morality." [7 Oct 03]
Last updated: 22 Jun 2007