Political correctness conspiracy is absurd

Editor’s Note: The following opinion is in response to William Lind’s article on “political correctness,” published in The Minnesota Daily on Feb. 2.

Given the extent of Lind’s assertions and his blatant disregard for historical fact I was compelled to write my own article.
Of Conspiracy Theories and Political Correctness:
William S. Lind has given a name to his pain, and it is “political correctness.” As a college instructor, I am always pleased to find interesting source material right in my own college newspaper. Especially when “political correctness” is among the topics of the cultural studies class I teach. My students (or is that “regurgitators”?) are sure to have a grand time debating Lind’s Feb. 2 article on the subject.
Undoubtedly the female half of the student body will be a little perplexed at why they should be constrained to “natural roles in society,” that is, to procreation and nurture. They will definitely want to know why it is wrong to assume that males and females should be treated equally. Perhaps they will also have a few words on the subject of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Likewise, the non-Aryans in the classroom will want to discuss exactly what Lind means by races and ethnic groups having “specific characteristics.” They may have problems accepting the notion of inherent racial differences, and that skin color should determine one’s social status. Finally, the non-heterosexuals among us will probably want to qualify the term “normal” a bit further. Is it not a sexually “normal” person who now stands on trial in the “warm, hospitable, God-centered town” of Jasper, Texas for attacking a black man, tying him to the back of a pickup truck and dragging him to death?
Alas, we face a more devious enemy than mere bigots, torturers and killers. The real enemy in our midst is of course “political correctness,” an odious practice of thought-control and indoctrination perpetrated on a captive audience of college students nationwide by people like myself. We the “cultural Marxists” have a vast left-wing conspiracy going on in universities across the country to instill an unsavory set of values in the minds of the unsuspecting young. All right! I confess!
I think it is safe to say that most of my colleagues would subscribe to the following: First, we would agree that universities are secular institutions where religions do not dictate the curriculum. Second, the genders are not ordained by nature or nature’s God to particular social, economic and cultural roles. Third, “race” is a fiction based on skin color, and racism is an expression of inhumanity that has caused untold damage. Finally, most of us think that in a secular society (where not everyone is a Christian, and not all Christians are bigots) civil rights should be granted to all people, regardless of gender, color or sexual orientation. And boy, does this irritate Lind.
Instead of writing about actual issues or controversies in higher education (which are abundant), he directs his criticism at Marxist philosophers. I am a conservative teacher, perhaps a bit of a pedant. Therefore, gross displays of ignorance grate on my nerves, especially when they take the form of sanctimonious tirades. The factually challenged Lind’s attempt at intellectual history is, to say the least, a spectacle of incompetence. To begin with, he seems to have read neither Marx nor any member of the Frankfurt School which he targets in his incoherent “history” of political correctness. Karl Marx’s work is for the most part an analysis of capitalism, not a program for a post-revolutionary utopia. Also, Marxism is a philosophical tradition whose proponents took great care to distinguish themselves from the totalitarian travesty made of it under Soviet Communism, particularly by Stalin’s genocidal regime.
This silliness is relatively mild compared to Lind’s ludicrous take on Gramsci, Lukacs and the Frankfurt School. Where to start? Georg Lukacs never belonged to the Institute for Social Research. Gramsci, Adorno et al. never argued for the “destruction” of Western culture (they quite liked it, as a matter of fact). Finally, true to the tradition of burning books that one hasn’t read (or even seen), Lind is blissfully unaware that Marcuse’s “Eros and Civilization” is one book, not two!
As for “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” I can assure Lind that they were not invented by German philosophers.
It is sad to see a representative of the proud tradition of American conservatism stoop to the level of misinformed conspiracy theory. In the absence of substantial criticism, actual issues or genuine controversies in the academy, Lind resorts to the bugaboo of “political correctness” as a vehicle for his anger. I offer my condolences to anyone who would agree or identify with him.
Gauti Sigthorsson is a graduate student and instructor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature.