I started this post several days ago with the portentious title “Political Correctness is Destroying this Nation”. In the press of life and chronic lassitude I didn’t decide to finish it until today when I read an excellent piece on National Review Online by the indispensable Thomas Sowell. The Way That History Went Down explains it much more eloquently than I can so I’ll just add a couple of comments to his.
Sowell’s complete article is a must read but he really lays it out in his summation:
Focusing attention and attacks on people who have greater wealth-generating capacity — whether races, classes, or whatever — has had counterproductive consequences, including tragedies written in the blood of millions. Whole totalitarian governments have risen to dictatorial power on the wings of envy and resentment ideologies.
Intellectuals have all too often promoted these envy and resentment ideologies. There are both psychic and material rewards for the intelligentsia in doing so, even when the supposed beneficiaries of these ideologies end up worse off. When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.
Both politicians and intellectuals have made their choice.
Boiled down to just bones and gristle, the difference between “conservative” and “liberal”, as those terms are now understood in 2012 America, is that conservatives primarily deal in reality while liberals primarily deal in utopian “let’s pretend” dreams. Yet even among conservatives there are stark differences between what is considered fittin’ for public discourse. For instance a certain type of blue-blood Republican always breaks out in a case of the vapors whenever one of the great unwashed brings up an embarrassing subject such as abortion or global warning.
As the Bible make plain in the words I used for a new title, only truth will make us free. To the extent we embrace falsehoods and pay homage to ideas that are based not on truth but on fantasy, we are enslaving ourselves in a web of deceit and confusion.