Sometimes calls by some political figures and activists for “true equality” end up causing more societal restrictions. “PC culture” is a divisive movement.
In his dystopian short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, Kurt Vonnegut painted a portrait of a world where true equality had been reached: the beautiful were made ugly, so as to be equal to their average-looking counterparts; the athletic were physically hampered so as to make the uncoordinated feel included; and the intelligent dumbed-down. Any differences were carefully – and, as we see at the end, violently – erased by the Handicapper General. Yay, equality.
Like 1984, the contemporary American left sees “Harrison Bergeron” not as a cautionary tale and a warning that the only way to achieve equality is to brutally knock people down a few pegs. Instead, the left has embraced both as ersatz instruction manuals on how to wield tremendous power over people and control even the minutiae of their daily lives. The “celebrate diversity” crowd has come a long way from, you know, celebrating diversity to working tirelessly to regress to ideologies, behaviors, and societal structures that our forebears fought against.
“Safe Spaces” – A Return to Segregation
George Wallace, 45th governor of Alabama and a Democrat, was a supporter of Jim Crow laws and famously stood in the doorway of a school house to protest the desegregation of the University of Alabama in 1963. Jim Crow and Wallace are examples of the loathsome government policies that denied basic human rights and dignity to a segment of Americans, based solely on the color of their skin.
In 2017, leftists – the descendants of Wallace’s ideology – are working to re-integrate segregation into society. Harvard is going to hold a blacks-only graduation ceremony, two days before the actual ceremony. The event, according to Huffington Post, is meant to “uplift black students while emphasizing the importance of community,” which is interesting considering a portion of the Harvard community is not welcome at the event. Event student organizer Courtney Woods said she will “honor [her] identity and struggle at Harvard” during the ceremony, where she is also a speaker.
While Harvard is by no means an easy institution academically, it is also…Harvard. One of the most elite institutions on the planet, and one that costs a whopping $63,025 a year for tuition, room, board, and fees. For a four-year degree, a student will spend, or accumulate, a debt of $252,100. Did Miss Woods have some struggles? Yes, undoubtedly. Everyone who takes their education seriously does. Clearly Woods is no intellectual slouch, but she also attends Harvard.
The issue doesn’t stop at the graduation ceremony, either. The article continues: “While the school’s admission rates for black students rose to 13.7 percent for the class of 2020 ― higher than previous years ― many have said that microaggressions, a lack of diversity and a lack of acknowledging how racism factors in certain curricula (e.g. law) create a disadvantage.” Woods – who, again, attended Harvard and is set to graduate – said “Harvard’s institutional foundation is in direct conflict with the needs of black students. There is a legacy of slavery, epistemic racism, and colonization at Harvard, which was an institution founded to train rising imperialist leaders.”
President of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, Michael Huggins, said the graduation isn’t a form of “segregation”, but “fellowship and building community.”
It’s not just Harvard, however. At the University of California-Berkeley, students demand “safe spaces” segregated by race. Protestors blocked the main entrance of campus, allowing students of color to pass, but physically barring whites from entering. The student demographics of Berkeley are such, that whites are not the majority on campus, but comprise only 26% of the student body.
Across the country, black students are demanding segregated “safe spaces” from whites, including at NYU, UCLA, and Oberlin, while segregated events have been held at Scripps and Pamona.
Back at Harvard, African American Studies and psychology professor James Sidanius has written more than 330 scientific papers on race, oppression, and diversity. Sidanius wrote about safe spaces (“ethnic enclaves”) going back to 2004, and his research shows that “among minority students the evidence suggested that membership in ethnically oriented student organizations…increased the perception that ethnic groups are locked into zero-sum competition with one another, and the feeling of victimization by virtue of one’s ethnicity.” And even though “safe spaces” are different from the legal segregation of the early- and mid-20th Century, the same principles and impact of segregation apply.
Along with safe spaces, accusations of cultural appropriation are another way the left seeks to punish and control others.
The left attempts to define “cultural appropriation” as different from “cultural exchange” – and that “cultural appropriation” is when “somebody adopts aspects of a culture that’s not their own”, calling it a “power dynamic.”
We’re warned not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, for example, because it’s appropriation of Mexican culture. White people cannot wear dreadlocks, because it’s appropriation. Some schools for the deaf cannot hire the hearing because sign language is cultural appropriation.
As Michael Barone points out at Powerline Blog, another term for “cultural appropriation” is world history. Cultures have always adapted behaviors and ideas from other cultures that are beneficial and useful. Barone calls this “progress” and it’s just common sense. Barone also accurately points out that the left are simultaneously proponents of “one worldism” and opposed to tribalism…yet the left is demanding tribalism. No one seems to complain about the “cultural appropriation” of St. Patrick’s Day – which is actually a holy day in Ireland and not a drunken, corned-beef-laden revelry as it is in the United States. No one demands proof, Barone notes, of Italian heritage before eating some spaghetti, or a slice of pizza.
It’s almost like the left can’t get their stories straight.
And no one is safe from accusations of cultural appropriation. Are you a white woman who prefers hoop earrings? APPROPRIATING CULTURE! Wear Indian garb to a movie event? CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! Disabled student who uses yoga? APPROPRIATING CULTURE!
Gay men have been accused of appropriating black female culture, and blogs warn against seeking out “authentic” ethnic food, lest you commit a horrible crime of “ungoodthink”.
Even a bald cancer patient who dared to don a “turban” was confronted for appropriating culture. Much to her credit, the woman – Thauane Cordeiro – took off her turban, and told off the woman scolding her.
Would that others were as brave in telling the social justice crowd to go pound sand when they complain about cultural appropriation, microaggressions, and other such nonsense.
Perhaps the most bizarre and contradictory push by the Handicapper General of some on the left is the resurgence of gender neutrality.
MTV gave Emma Watson a “Best Actor” award at the MTV Movie and TV awards on Sunday, May 7. The award was “genderless” – meaning men and women were both nominated for the category. Watson said the award “indicates that acting is about the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and that doesn’t need to be separated into two different categories.”
Watson is young, so maybe she forgot the not-too-distant past in which Jared Leto’s performance as a transgender in “The Dallas Buyer’s Club” was lambasted for being stereotypical (the role won Leto the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2014), along with a push to have disabled actors play disabled characters, because having able-bodied actors do it is a “civil rights” issue.
If acting is – as Watson says – about “the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes” then why the push to have actors who only conform to the roles they’re playing? Why did Watson play Belle – the fiery, bookish protagonist – and not Gaston, the chauvinistic male villain?
I predict the “gender neutral” awards don’t extend much beyond MTV and, even there, they will have a limited shelf life. The expiration date will coincide with when a man or two wins the award.
But because politics is downstream from culture, it’s important to note these inconsistencies and politically correct winds because they always end up impacting the lives of those of us outside of Hollywood and DC in some way.
And, of course, in the political and social realm, the push for gender neutrality – from bathrooms to the oft-debunked wage gap – is omnipresent. But, like all things with the left, it’s inconsistent.
Women demand equality and reproductive choice, but men don’t have that choice. Men do not get to opt-out of child support. They can refuse to pay it, but suffer the consequences. Sometimes men are even put on the hook for paying for child support for children who aren’t their own…yet women are not given other women’s babies and said: “This is now your responsibility!” Dead-beat dads are publicly shamed (and rightly so) but dead-beat moms…how many have even heard that term?
Some women lament the “pink tax” on things like tampons, razors, and other feminine-related products, and demand that such taxes be repealed and hygiene products distributed for free — in the name of equality. Women also want vacation days for their periods – above and beyond time off allotted to male employees (and then they wonder why they supposedly get paid less…).
Even Bill Nye, the “science” guy, can’t help but be drawn into the stupidity of equality. In his Netflix series, Nye says that half the world’s population are women, so half of all STEM positions should be women. For a guy with a degree in engineering, math isn’t Nye’s strong suit, apparently. And they’re oddly silent on the need to introduce more women into the hard, dangerous, and demanding career fields often dominated by men. There’s no push for gender parity in road and building construction, for example.
Feminists cannot adequately articulate how they reconcile equality with the demand for special rights and privileges not afforded to men beyond exclamations of “the patriarchy” and “rape culture.” When a woman is held to a man’s standard, the pearl-clutching is a sight to behold because it’s “unfair.”
And that’s what all this boils down to: unfairness. Some of the left sees a world that is unfair, and they must fix it. That their solutions give them almost limitless power and control is, they’ll assure you, merely a coincidence, and for our own good, anyway. Equality of opportunity and liberty are foreign to them. Rather than embrace what makes us different and see it as a strength – some on the left sees differences and diversity as a liability that needs to be erased. It cannot be erased, however, and therefore those who engage in it must be ideologically destroyed, as the Handicapper General would approve.
Featured image: Kurman Communications, Inc. (CC)