Special to the Mirror by Charles A. Landis
The term utopia was first coined by Sir Thomas Moore (1418-1535), a catholic Renaissance humanist who wrote a satire, Utopia, about an imaginary political system of an ideal island nation. The first use of the term dystopia was by John Stuart Mill in an address to Parliament in 1868 to mean the opposite of utopia wherein freedoms are abridged in the name of ideals that lead to authoritarian or totalitarian governance. Literary examples of dystopias are George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
The utopia of the progressives today has been marinating in the ideology of political correctness. The Petri dish has been (is) the college campus. Where progressives seek a utopia, conservatives see a dystopia.
In the Petri dish, college administrators, professors, and students nurture the culture of political correctness and an Orwellian Newspeak. Political and cultural correctness police monitor speech, words, images, and practices which may offend political, racial, or sexual sensibilities fragile students and should be censured or eliminated.
The progressive utopia may be likened to Oceania, the fictional totalitarian state in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The language is Newspeak which is designed to limit freedom of thought that threatens their ideology and to meet the ideological requirements of socialist authoritarian utopian Oceania.
In Oceania, the purpose of Newspeak was to establish a language to correctly express the new worldview. In time, Oldspeak would disappear and independent thought will be replaced by the new orthodoxy which requires no thinking. The politically correct Newspeak on the new progressive college campus today is not only correct words to use, it includes any thinking or actions (past or present) that would be incorrect.
For example, Christian LaGarde, President of the International Monetary Fund, was dis-invited from giving the commencement address at Smith because of her connection to global capitalists. There was rioting at Berkley over conservative speakers Milo Yiannopolous and Anne Colture because their views were known to incite and inflame violence and thus should not be permitted to speak. So also it would be with anything related to use of the word Trump unless it was anti-Trump speech.
A professor at the University of California LA, was accused of micro-aggression against minorities and students from disadvantaged backgrounds for grammar corrections on papers students write. Objection was on basis the corrections were considered as grammatical choices reflecting white upper class ideologies which create an unsafe climate for people of color.
Demands have been made that students should be able to take exams home where questions can be rewritten to eliminate biases of teachers. That is, the student can give an answer to what the question should be. Newspeak requires language that reflects that grammar corrections should be recognized as choices based upon cultural differences Also, objections to remedial classes for incoming freshman have been raised as being discriminatory against students coming from disadvantaged education backgrounds. Indeed, some have said the word freshman is sexist and reference should be to new or beginning students.
A number of colleges have established bias-free language guides or instructions promoting politically correct language. Ex. It is incorrect to say American because it implies exclusion of immigrants from Mexico, Canada, Central and South America. To say America is the land of opportunity is a covert form of racism against illegal or undocumented students and creates a toxic campus culture. Words like she and her should be avoided because they are insensitive to trans-genders. Calling someone crazy is considered an ableist slur.
Clapping should be avoided because it may trigger anxiety; instead, should wave hands (a jazz wave) because waving a hand is welcoming and clapping of hands may be covertly hiding a mico-aggression. All white bands playing African rhythms is considered cultural appropriation.
Princeton established a micro-aggression reporting service to monitor politically incorrect language or images that may be insensitive to groups that may feel marginalized or exclusive.
At Yale, a protest was made against an image of a Puritan with a musket at his side facing an Indian with a bow at his side. Upon objection, the musket was removed from the Puritan but the bow was left for the Indian. After further protest (bow suggested Indians aggressive against unarmed Puritan), the whole image was removed so no one would be offended.
At University of Minnesota a sensibility class is mandated to right the wrongs of Colonial America.
At Wellesley, an-all woman liberal arts college, a female to male transgender candidate for diversity officer was opposed because he/she had become a white male.
American colleges and universities were once centers of academic freedom where free speech was for the competition of ideas and diversity of ideas was encouraged. Today, they have been transformed into eco chambers of political correctness where 70% have regulations that curtail free speech. Free speech zones are set up on campuses, generally a small section of a sidewalk or and area of 25-50 sq. ft. in a remote area on the fringe of a campus.
To be clear, these zones are not to limit the hateful speech of groups like neo Nazis or a meeting of the KKK wearing white robes. A Clemson student was barred from praying outside a designated zone. A student at the University of Delaware was stopped from pushing an inflated “Free Speech Ball” outside the zone. Security guards stopped a Modesto College student from handing out copies of the US Constitution outside a 25 sq. ft. zone and because he failed to give a required 30 days notice.
What is happening on college campuses today, we were forewarned of by philosopher Allan Bloom in his book The Closing of the American Mind, published in 1987. Bloom said “higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students” and… “the great books of Western thought have been devalued as a source of wisdom.”
Orwell’s 1984 and Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, together with Newspeak and political correctness, are the portent of new progressive dystopia.
Charles Landis lives in Onancock and is author of An Introduction to the History of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Contact is firstname.lastname@example.org