Political correctness is not, as some might claim, just an effort to encourage niceness. As Gelernter notes, it’s an effort to control people. Like the Newspeak in George Orwell’s 1984, the goal is to make it impossible for people to speak, or even think, unapproved thoughts.
Of course, by limiting what people can think and say, political correctness has hollowed out America’s universities, cheapened and distorted its politics, and served (and this last is entirely intentional) to make those who favor traditional American values like free speech feel marginalized and at risk. …
Almost as irritating to a lot of people, though, is the extent to which self-described “conservative” politicians, pundits and media organs have gone along. Part of this is because PC is often misleadingly sold as politeness, and elite American conservatives are suckers for etiquette. Part of it is because those conservative leaders move in an upper-middle-class environment where academic norms govern everyone, including them.
So nobody “respectable” was willing to launch a full-scale counterattack on PC, on or off-campus. Crack the occasional joke, maybe. But actually do something? Not so much.
UPDATE on PC: In Our Culture, What’s Left Of It, Dr. Theodore Dalrymple said:
Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small.
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better.
When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed.
A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.
That is obviously the case in the West today. But times change, and the communists lost power in eastern Europe.