Letter: Overuse of expressions render them meaningless

From: R. Andrew Robertson


Tom Lane normally is a civil writer, generously offering cogent advice gleaned from a long career. It is sad, then, to see him unbridle his own narrow-mindedness even as he purports to criticize others.

He begins his recent letter by claiming once to have understood the meaning of “political correctness” (politeness, as he would have it), then saying he is now confused about it, all in order to deride those who oppose it. The rhetorical device fails, though, as it is clear he has never understood the expression.

The term “politically correct” originated in Soviet and Maoist communism, meaning unreflective assent to the leftist line of the day. Cadres were (are) expected to parrot that line, reliably following its vicissitudes. To be politically incorrect, then, is not boorishness, but rather is simple resistance to left-wing mindlessness.

The expression comes to us now through Marcusian cultural Marxism. One goal of this movement is to undermine traditional Western values through the unending designation of victims and oppressors. Mr. Lane dutifully attacks a bucket of deplorables he calls racist, sexist and homophobic. Let’s look at those pejoratives.

The word “racism” once simply meant the notion that there are races among human beings. It has also meant the idea that one race is superior to others and therefore should rule. Today, though, the term carries no meaning at all. Rather it has become a weapon, as social researchers tell us, the purpose of which is to stifle debate. “Homophobia” and “sexism,” along with other derogatory terms, have likewise taken places in the leftist armory.

Elite leftists cast these spears with increasing ferocity at the commoners they disdain. Of course, they would prefer that their targets drop their shields and submit to politically correct discipline. The rubes, though, have learned that the tips have gone blunt through overuse. That’s tough luck for the elites.