New PDF release: Political Correctness: A Response from the Cultural Left

By Richard Feldstein

ISBN-10: 0816624755

ISBN-13: 9780816624751

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Right-wing rhetoricians never concede that different groups within a particular culture have different moral beliefs that are equally valid. Their viewpoint never allows for such divergence. Instead, they propagate a heavy-handed absolutism based on one unassailable belief system pitted aggressively against alternate systems that are found to be threatening. In The Scapegoat, Rene Girard demonstrates that when system of cultural beliefs is perceived to be under attack, "there is a strong tendency to explain it by social and, especially, moral causes" (14).

We also live in what Teresa Brennan calls the "age of paranoia," which is replete with technological nightmares— chemical warfare, stealth bombers, nuclear weapons—whose fury was unleashed during the first and second world wars. They were accompanied by low-level battles that have scarred the twentieth century. Besides the megawars that ended in 1945 after the explosion of nuclear bombs, this century has endured guerrilla warfare, sporadic terrorism, and constant rhetorical snipping. As we learned in Orwell's 1984, low-level ski mishes help to perpetuate an ongoing conflict, which proves beneficial to the empowered interests who have a stake in the outcome of events.

Sykes is a cultural guardian of the Right who wants to puncture "the research myth" in order to "cut off the life support systems to the centers of profthink" (258). This formulaic observation echoes the oft-voiced contention that tenure be replaced with "fixed-term renewable contracts"; that "all professors [in state universities] teach at least three courses a semester"; that in the traditional curriculum for undergraduates the canon be placed at the center of all studies of Western civilization; and that members of Congress, heads of foundations, research grantors, and parent groups become involved in community affairs to alter the distribution of "the billions of dollars in federal spending" dispersed to universities throughout the country (Sykes 257-62).

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Political Correctness: A Response from the Cultural Left by Richard Feldstein

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