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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Greatest Cliché: The Unexamined Propaganda of "Political Correctness"

[ UPDATE (2006-12-07 17:55EST): Here's to all those who read, thought about, talked about, wrote about, and linked to this polemic; among them, Human Beams, The Primary Contradiction, The Silence of Our Friends, Fire Witch Rising, The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum, Sour Duck, Fetch me my axe, Hoyden About Town, Elayne Riggs, Prometheus 6, Eric Stoller. Thanks! ]

It's axiomatic that good writing tends to avoid clichés, because clear thinking is a fresh response to living reality, not a tired repurposing of brittle brain-crust. A logical inverse to this axiom is that political commentary tends to brim with toxic portions of vapid clichés, because good writing is about as widespread in today's political discourse as it is in corporate accounting memos.

The blogosphere has its own style of cyber-fad clichés, slightly more high-handed than the stentorian pap of talking-head TV, and occasionally more illuminating. Two examples that leap to my mind are the inescapable utterances of "schadenfreude" and "kabuki", expressions whose exoticism appears to elevate their usage to haute-cliché à la William Safire. No matter what political controversy is being discussed these days, you're likely to run across bloggers busting out these 3-syllable badges of faux-erudition with about as much linguistic adroitness as tap-dancers on stilts.

However, there's one political cliché so popular, so omnipresent, so densely far-reaching, that it is without doubt the greatest cliché of our time. It is the One Cliché to rule them all: "political correctness" and its variants. What's striking about the repetitive droning complaints about "PC" (from both conservatives and liberals) is that the expression itself — not to mention the concept it invokes — is as sloppily unexamined as it is pedestrian.

The phrase "politically correct" can be used in two distinct ways: either with its original literal meaning, or with the mocking sarcasm that's common these days. I'll get to the former in a moment, but I'll begin with the latter. As it's commonly used, "PC" is a deliberately imprecise expression (just try finding or writing a terse, precise definition) because its objective isn't to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated. Thus, the Herculean effort required to call me "Asian American" rather than "chink" is seen as a concession to "the PC police", an unsettling infringement on the free-wheeling conversation of, I suppose, "non-chinks". Having to refer to black folks as "African Americans" rather than various historically-prevalent epithets surely strikes some red-blooded blue-balled white-men as a form of cultural oppression. Having to refer to "women" rather than "bitches" lays a violent buzzkill on the bar-room banter of men preoccupied with beating on their chests and off other body parts.

Obviously these examples fall on the simplistic side of things, but I think they illustrate the shaky philosophical foundation of today's usage. Underlying every complaint of "PC" is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry. It's no coincidence that "PC"-snivelers are for the most part white men who are essentially saying, "Who the hell do these marginalized groups think they are to tell me how I should or shouldn't portray them? I'm not going to say 'mentally challenged' when it's my right to say 'retard', goshdarnit there's only so much abuse I'll take!"

In this context, the conceit that "political correctness" constitutes a violation of free speech is particularly zany; as though society's marginalized groups wield oppressive power over the dominant mainstream. Actually, as far as I'm concerned you're free to call me "chink" and I'm free to call you "moronic racist loser" (and more if necessary, but I'll leave that aside for now in the interest of false civility). Free speech is the straw man of choice for intellectual bums of all stripes too fragile and vacuous for critical engagement. Calling someone who says or does bigoted things "a bigot" isn't censorious, it's descriptively accurate, like calling a bad movie "a bad movie", even if the bigot didn't intend to come off as bigoted and the movie didn't intend to come off as bad.

As for the original literal meaning of "PC", the phrase is believed to have emerged from China (seriously, I'm not making this up) during the reign of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thought. Revolutionary leaders unironically applauded words and actions as "politically correct" when these were seen to advance the revolutionary cause (ya think something was lost in translation?). Personally, I suspect that the Chinese phrase predates Maoism and hearkens back to imperial China when complying with the demands of the throne and advancing the interests of the empire, at any level of society, would be "politically correct"; as opposed to, say, writing dissident literature, which would be "politically incorrect" to the point of getting you exiled or executed. In both the Maoist and imperial contexts, the key point to observe is that "PC" denotes alignment with state power. On a semantic and philosophical level, this makes a good deal more sense than the vague pejorative sarcasm of today's "PC"-snivelers.

Interestingly enough, according to this non-sarcastic, relatively unconsidered, more meaningfully precise definition of the term, the USA is a politically correct nation indeed; but not in the way that most Americans are led to believe. Some examples: Magnetic yellow ribbons are PC. Denouncing Islamism in the name of 9/11 is PC. Reciting the pledge of allegiance is PC. Not talking about radical politics at work or in polite company is PC. Gay-bashing is PC. Standing and placing your hand on your heart during the national anthem is PC. Smiling and applauding when the president enters the room is PC. On the other side of the equation: Marching for civil rights is not PC. Protesting a US war is not PC. Questioning US-Israeli neo-colonial policy in the Middle East is not PC. Calling the US government a white male supremacist corporatist kleptocracy is not PC. Agitating for structural change in our society's distribution of wealth and power is not PC. Refusing to shake a corrupt president's hand is not PC.

Frankly, I can think of far more extreme examples of politically incorrect acts and statements, but it's a testament to the real coercive power of the police state — not some imaginary "PC police" — that I hesitate to publish these thoughts even hypothetically, even with ample theoretical padding. Given this reality, perhaps we might reconsider exactly whose free speech is being violated by whom. As far as I know, "the PC police" haven't thrown any insensitive white men into Gitmo or launched CointelPro operations against white bloggers who publish blackface. For some reason, people of color who oppose US imperialism haven't had that same good fortune.

Simply put, the great "PC" cliché, as commonly deployed in mainstream discourse, is cultural propaganda designed to befuddle and misdirect while defending the current power structure. All politics deal with power relations, and in the debate over America's alleged climate of "political correctness", there's a stark asymmetry of power between the defiant megaphone-wielders who complain of being constrained by humorless hypersensitivity from below, and the under-represented people of color, women, LGBT, handicapped, poor, and otherwise marginalized or dispossessed people who have no choice but to absorb the linguistic, cultural, and physical barbs of the ruling class. The former feel psycho-emotionally oppressed by their inability to crack puerile ethnic jokes without criticism; the latter simply are oppressed.

Comments

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Kai...this is the best critique of whiteboy liberal horseshit ever written. I want everyone I know to read it. Is it okay for me to distribute?

Best, Y

Y. Carrington: Thanks. You're most welcome to distribute anything you see at Zuky as freely as you see fit. Peace.

"the great "PC" cliché, as commonly deployed in mainstream discourse, is cultural propaganda designed to befuddle and misdirect while defending the current power structure."

Well said.

I've been waiting for someone to write a definitive analysis of political correctness so I could include it on my site (http://www.bluecorncomics.com). I think this is it.

The US government is a "white male supremacist corporatist kleptocracy" I want that on a t-shirt!

Thank you for that wonderful article that perfectly delineates the issue of power and the sneering use of "PC" that we're all subjected to.

I hope it's okay that I'm going to post a link to this page on a lefty discussion forum at www.rabble.ca/babble.

Eric Stoller: Thanks. By the way, I think your blog is great, both the politics and the tech stuff. I lurk there every other day.

Rob Schmidt: Thank you for linking me to Blue Corn Comics, looks really interesting at first glance, I'll have to spend some time there.

Maysie: Hehe, can you imagine walking into a bar wearing a T-shirt bearing that line? You might get some odd stares. Looks like the thread at babble didn't go too well, most readers seem to not quite get it. Oh well. ;-)

"...its objective isn't to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated."

Yes, I always thought the more thoughtful explanation for the term would be Personal Consideration, or some such construction thereof. How simple is that?

-Kim

This is really excellent. I want to distribute it too! Michiganiacs could have done with a read through of this before voting.

I love this line!

No matter what political controversy is being discussed these days, you're likely to run across bloggers busting out these 3-syllable badges of faux-erudition with about as much linguistic adroitness as tap-dancers on stilts.

That too drives me batty... once something catches on it's overused to the point of inanity. Like the right wing and "dhimmitude", which I don't know if it's spelled correctly, but still.

Anyway there are a gazillion points, but I think it's great how you've shown what real political correctness is and I think it's interesting that so often when those on the not so left want to attack those on the more left - especially if they (on the more left) are people of color - they reach out to the right wing, or to authoritarian history, to find the most effective weapon.

Thank you, Kai Chang.

Your critique goes off like a bomb. I especially liked the contrast you drew between sniveling, whiteboy whiners complaining about the "PC police" and marginalized and oppressed peoples victimized every day by a very real Amerikan police state.

Hi Kai.

This is my first vist to your blog. (Thanks, Y, for sending me over here!)

I have sent the link to your discussion here about political correctness to many white liberals I know, and to a college discussion board where whitemale supremacist "liberal arts" degrees are all that are handed out.

Thanks for that awesome, sharp and clear-as-new-glass essay.

P.S.

I'd enjoy corresponding a bit, Kai. If you have access to my email addy, please drop me a line. I've been a radical pro-feminist/anti-racism activist for a couple of decades.

Peace after Whitemale Supremacy dies, hopefully without taking everyone and everything with it... except all willfully ignorant and arrogant whitemale supremacists and the institutions, laws, policies, values, and practices that maintain whitemale supremacy, including corporate capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism.

Julian

Thank you for this, you've explained it in a way I've always tried but couldn't verbalize.

beautiful. and also planning on cross distributing.
Thank You!

This is so royally beautiful; thank you. I shall link it in my blog for remembrance.

About 15 years ago (yikes), I was invited to the University of New Mexico to talk about this very topic. Even then, the anti-PC tone of the nation was shifting to exactly what you've explained here - freedom to tell jokes vs. freedom to pursue a life of economic, political and social justice and equity.

I don't often do this, but it's so appropriate - Romans 10:19, "But I say, Had Israel no knowledge? First Moses says, You will be moved to envy by that which is not a nation, and by a foolish people I will make you angry."

These disaffected groups are all largely pursuing the ACCESS while eschewing the right/obligation to change the PROCESS. And that is why it's immaterial whether you choose to discuss acts of violence because there is no institutional apparatus for you to operationalize or sustain such an activity. In fact, those disaffected groups don't have a single organization between them that could support such an initiative. It is indeed sad that folks have been reduced to seeking access to the world of foolish folks whose only want in life is a new flat screen and a new platform for castigating goddess/god creation by telling bio-jokes ("race", gender, sex, sex orien, etc.).

You can fight for your right to party, but you can't party (or form one) for your right to fight. When you get caught between the world and the Patriot Act, the best that you can do...is self-defense.

Those are some of the best, most vivid, examples of PC in today's America that I've ever thought about. I think you've hit the nail on the head - and as I've intimated above, you were wise to stop short of the fullest explication of your thesis.

Really? So nobody on the political Left never uses State power or other forms of coercion to suppress speech they don't like?

Campus speech codes, anyone? I'm sorry, but there are just too many examples where Left/oppositional forces have made use of not just censure, but State power, direct violence, and other clearly coercive means to censor the speech of others.

The idea behind the term "political correctness" was that it was a term of censure itself, linking the most authoritarian instincts of the Left straight back to Stalinism. It was a term originally used among leftists and liberals to criticize ideological excess, something that leftists lose sight of.

The term has become increasingly diluted through overuse, and is used way too reflexively. I'll point out, however, that the terms "racist" and "sexist" is used by many on the Left at least as reflexively and probably with a much greater stigma than the use of "politically correct".

Personally, I think authoritarianism sucks big time, "politically correct" or not, and I don't have much patience for apologists for authoritarianism, Right or Left.

Temple3: As you've clearly seen, I actually meant to peripherally imply the "fullest explication of my thesis" without having to resort to words.

Thanks to everyone who's posted kind words here and elsewhere. I'm glad to see the piece struck a chord of some sort.

Namaste.

> freedom to tell jokes vs. freedom to pursue a life of economic, political and social justice and equity.

and of course, as zuky notes, it's a false dichotomy: very few people are saying you can't tell the jokes; and the cases in which there are real-life consequences for doing so are subject to the same limitations as damn near everything else in the "private" sphere: yeah, you might get fired from your job; you can also get fired for bodypainting yourself blue and purple and coming into the office that way, or screaming "WOOGA WOOGA WOOGA!!" at potential clients, or...

for the most part, as you say: you say "kike," I say, "fuck you, asshole!' See? A free exchange of ideas! Just like in the Argument Clinic! This is how Democracy works at its finest! YEEHAW

btw, iacb expanded and elucidated an example of the "campus speech codes" business on my site; I responded there, so won't repeat it here, but if anyone wants to join in:

http://fetchmemyaxe.blogspot.com/2006/11/and-no-she-said-anticipating.html

btw, zuky, as long as i'm here, it occurs to me: we're having a rather involved discussion in another topic, and the subject of Buddhism has come up. i've made a few proclamations on it, but it's quite possible I'm talking out of my ass. If you'd care to join us, you'd be welcome:

http://fetchmemyaxe.blogspot.com/2006/11/lear-tolstoy-fool-orwell-shakespeare.html

>These disaffected groups are all largely pursuing the ACCESS while eschewing the right/obligation to change the PROCESS. And that is why it's immaterial whether you choose to discuss acts of violence because there is no institutional apparatus for you to operationalize or sustain such an activity. In fact, those disaffected groups don't have a single organization between them that could support such an initiative. It is indeed sad that folks have been reduced to seeking access to the world of foolish folks whose only want in life is a new flat screen and a new platform for castigating goddess/god creation by telling bio-jokes ("race", gender, sex, sex orien, etc.).>

Yes, that's astute.

Iamcuriousblue: I didn't mean to imply that state-sponsored oppressive "political correctness" was strictly a malady of the right. As my Maoist example shows, it's non-ideological. Or maybe it's more accurate to say, it's a malady of patriarchy.

Meh, I wouldn't call it that either, mostly because (speaking of totalitarian -impulses- from the left), i am at the point where i tend to experience the word "patriarchy" pretty much as i do "politically correct," or indeed "imperialist pig-dog."

belledame: True. Strike that.

My comment (yesterday) seems to have vanished. Pity.

Very good post. Nominate yourself for a Koufax best post.

ebw: Bummer! I apologize for losing your comment. I respect the time people spend contributing, I have no idea what happened but I'll let the service know about it.

I gotta get online more. I'm missing out on some damn fine writing! Thanks so much for this Kai!

Thanks, Donna. Take care.

Hi, Kai! Followed a link belledame left elsewhere. Fine post, now I have to go catch up on what else you've been writing since last time I dropped by.

Trackback

Very nice, kai. I wrote a piece once where I took P.C. at its face value, as denoting that which is politically advantageous, and arrived at the same conclusion: P.C. is whatever the powerful want you to say. The point of this is not just self-promotion but to state that the term itself has thrown so much smoke into our eyes that you have to carefully parse it to see how stupid it really is.

I must remember this. I *must* remember this the next time one of the white male students cries 'It's political correctness gone mad!' in Eng Lit.

This is so well-written and right on the mark, I had to read it out loud. Unfortunately, I was laughing so hard, it slowed down my reading. GREAT STUFF!!

I'm linking, too. (And thanks to the Erase Racism Blog Carnival for sending me here.)

Excelente. Another actually American PC thing: saying that, now that we are at war, it is unpatriotic to criticize the government.

This is one of the most powerful( probably the best) pieces I have read on the subject in recent memory. I read it when it was first published, I occasionally come back to check it out. Thanks Kai...

Ah yes, the Left waxes indignant about being painted with the Politically Correct brush.

What they fail to admit is that the ideologies that pursue 'PC' policies are merely advocating the silencing and censoring of the thoughts and actions of others. The little totalitarian reservations we refer to as college campuses reek of speech codes and censorship as the fascists of the Left seek to mold us into their Orwellian servants in preparation for the coming utopia. They are all about free speech and tolerance and diversity and sensitivity and multiculturalism until one dares to openly admit to being pro-life, or a believer in traditional morality, or that a family should consist of a man and a woman and any offspring they may have, or a born again Christian, or that Israel has the right to exist, or that private gun ownership is commendable, or that maybe we should not allow in millions of illegal aliens every year..... Suddenly all that great liberal love and tenderness is thrown out the window and all that is left is the naked viciousness and intolerance of Political Correctness.

I've seen it, I've experienced it, and I spent my college years fighting and exposing it. It's not about calling Asian Americans 'Chinks' or women 'bitches' (red herring arguments at best), but about having the right to debate the issues of with full intellectual honesty. When debate is stifled and speech curtailed because everyone is petrified of causing 'perpetual outrage' because of an innocent comment or label that wasn't quite politically correct enough and may have 'offended' someone, then we have lost a valuable part of what made us a great nation. Intellectual lobotomy and goose stepping cadres shouting bumper sticker phrases is in and of itself the enemy, and we've labeled their speech codes 'Political Correctness'.

It deserves every mockery and word of derision it has ever received.

It is indeed true that the breeze of fascism is blowing across the land. It does not arise from the Right, but is the secret ideology of the Left.

It is indeed true that the breeze of fascism is blowing across the land. It does not arise from the Right, but is the secret ideology of the Left.

O sweet Jesus, the stupidity, it burns!

Kai, I'm sorry. I probably sent you this idiot. Still an unhealthy infestation of trolls over at Pandagon. Can't clean 'em out fast enough.

Underlying every complaint of "PC" is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry.

It's especially the attempt to paint those so-called prohibitions as "arbitrary" that's been getting up my ass lately. I got told this weekend by a guy that an attempt to explain to him why he should ix-nay on the at jokes-fay reminded him of "of college, where the height of political sophistication was to guilt people for saying ‘black’ instead of ‘African-American,’ or whichever term white people where supposed to use that semester." Because it changed every semester, see, no rhyme or reason to it. Totally arbitrary! That he was basically copping to hanging around only other white people, who apparently felt it necessary to decide this shit without any input from POC, was the really precious part.

There's always a code word they use to indicate the perceived arbitrariness, and each group gets its own: Women are emotional, gays are militant, black people are angry, Asians are inscrutable, Latinos are hot-tempered, and so on. It all serves to help whites sit around all who-farted, protesting, "What could I do? I'm just not up on all this PC stuff. How was I know to know it wasn't okay to say [whatever]?"

I'll quit babbling now. Probably should have just settled for "great post," 'cause it is. And, uh, sorry about Sage there.

Pandagonian, brought by Ilkya's post. Thank you for this. I would like to link to it, with permission.

Excellent critique. When I think of the privileged majority complaining about having to consider the rest of the world, all I can recall is Rabindranath Tagore's insightful observation: Power takes as ingratitude the writhing of its victims.

Our pink booted feminista friends should welcome another viewpoint from time to time. Or is that not 'policitally correct'? But seriously, the follow up to this blog's PC post should be a thorough investigation into campus speech codes, and the thought police that enforce them, and whether or not that is a healthy environment in which to debate and discuss the issues of the day.

I see that Infidel Sage has been busy with his cut-n-pasted boilerplate here as well.

campus speech codes, and the thought police that enforce them,

Having someone tell you that you're being a jerk for saying something abusive is "oppression by the thought police"?

Poor Sagey. People aren't agreeing with his every pearl of wisdom. Help, help, he's being oppressed.

你们的文化神经病。越来越美国人为人民麻烦

"Kai...this is the best critique of whiteboy liberal horseshit ever written. I want everyone I know to read it. Is it okay for me to distribute?"

Er, that's whiteboy CONSERVATIVE horseshit.

Excellent. Glad you linked to yourself (this piece in particular) in the Racialicious comments section.

Hello friends! i new on your forum!
see ya:))

Political Correctness, admittedly, is a tired tag that is used by those of us tired by being besieged by the constant, finger-wagging ideological guilt of professional "victim-cliques" (always the self-styled "spokespersons of _______ oppressed group). It is a vacuous term, a lazy shorthand for us "mentally-challenged" heterosexual-European-Americans who-happened-to-have-their-genitalia-configured-on-the outside-of-their-body, but it is at least effective enough to elicit eloquent, high-brow defenses such as this writer's.
The term political correctness however, is an ready-made, shorthand to convey quickly what the un-theoried layman hasn't the (probably taxpayer-funded) time to dissect with incisive, rarified, prose. I wish there were a stronger, more poignant, more effective term that could be used in place of the much diluted "political correctness" but alas, nothing satisfactory takes its place. I suggest however, "Newspeak" -- that ominous Orwellian code -- which accurately reflects the new climate of censorship and intolerance that the left has insituted in such an insidious manner that even the vaguest whiff of "racism, sex or homophobia
activates a near hysterical overreaction nowadays. Hence, government bureaucrats, school-boards, university administrators cower in trepidation before the "Bland-ish" Inquisition. I have to laugh at the sophomoric logic of the writer's point that Political Correctness is invoked as a necessary measure against one's right to call someone else a racial epithet, presumably the author is paranoid about the actual number of racists out there. If he examines himself more closely, he might discover that, god forbid, he might be one as well. As a European-American (Canadian, whatever) male, I could protest at the resentful tone that I detect when he describes my kind, but I guess I'm not welcome on the liferaft (being kept generously afloat by nervous, kowtowing politicians of all stripes). The writer, however, sounds disingenuous here. It's become obvious, even to those who might identify as minorities, that the mandate of the p.c. doctrine has gone well beyond ensuring civility and respect and has, instead spread like a cancer into general public discourse to the point where someone can quite innocently cause offense and is under suspicion until he/she (usually he) is disgraced, discredited, made to apologize before a Kangaroo committee of "acceptable" appointees, re-educated or in the worse case scenario made to lose his job. There is evidence of the lunacy of this "cancer" of Newspeak everywhere and every day. Certain groups are of course always designated as the victims while a certain other group (straight, white, males) is designated as the oppressor, it makes things nice and clear who the enemy is, and if you don't have another group to hate (even the hypocritical advocates of P.C.'ness), then we all know, ideology can't be sustained -- witness this with fascism, communism, jihadism and George W.'s Republicans.
The powerful cultural bureaucrats on the left have managed to insitutionalize reverse discrimination and make it normal, if not acceptable, it has done nothing but propagate the continued myth of fairness and equality to all, when really, it masks the more petty, vindictive agenda of getting even with whitey.

Yo Dumb-Ass Perel, that's all you got? Hahaha! You lose at life.

I honestly rather like the idea of having the "vaguest whiff of racism, sex or homophobia" make our society release the proverbial dogs on the offender. Maybe it won't be so cool to be a bigot if the rest of society does indeed speak up on the BIG and the SMALL issues of inequality when they arise.

The reason many people of these oppressed groups that Mr. Perel apparently despises speak out against prejudice is because of their oppression and disenfranchisement. Is Mr. Perel saying he believes that white males have quite proportionate power in his own or in the US government, that their voices are not and have not historically been overrepresented in North American society?

Sure, Mr. Perel is quite welcome to give his opinion in the public square, where free speech actually is protected legally, even in a resentful tone if he feels like (he already kinda did, but who's counting?), but that doesn't preclude me from calling him a bigot if what he says is bigoted, does it? If we lived in the world of Mr. Perel, where that's an issue of a great conspiracy from the political left, and an affront on his civil rights, then maybe it does preclude me from calling him a bigot. Maybe that precludes me from calling anyone a bigot, lest I be politically correct, and that, to Mr. Perel, seems to be worse, even, than being the bigot who started it all in the first place.

Okay -- it's late and it's dated, but I just stumbled on this entry and wanted to express my appreciation. I was inspired to find this by a snot-gobbling moron who burped, "Where's ya sense a humor?" when someone posted about a sexist joke in another forum, and then played the "You're all PEEEEE CEEEEEE!" card when others pointed out the idiocy of allowing the teller of a joke to be the sole arbiter of whether it was funny, offensive, off-color, etc. Great stuff.

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  • Through holding together, restraint is certain to come about. The yielding obtains the decisive place, and those above and those below correspond with it. Strong and gentle; the strong is central and its will is done. This is called the Taming Power of the Small.
    — The I Ching, hexagram 9: Hsiao Chu / The Taming Power of the Small

Highlights

  • Brokedown Dreamhouses of a New York Suburb (Sept-2007)
    Rene Javier Perez took leave of his wife Miliana Morales and their 2-month-old daughter Gladys in the Guatemalan town of Chiquimula. Unfortunately, the years did not unfold as planned. Sometimes you just can't summon the strength to fight for yourself anymore; sometimes you stop believing that things will get any better; worst of all, sometimes it's true.
  • Immigrant Dreams and Nightmares in the White Supremacist Cauldron (May-2007)
    The tired, the poor, the huddled masses of dream-hungry immigrants coming across the Pacific — like those coming across the deserts and rivers along the Southern US border — have never been greeted by a Mother of Exiles.
  • President McKinney (Oct-2007)
    The whole notion of "electability" is a profoundly misguided and anti-democratic concept. There's a reason elementary schoolteachers ask children to put their heads down on their desks before voting by show of hands: they're learning to make independent decisions. Asking which candidate is more "electable" pre-emptively marginalizes one's own value as a unique perceiver and one's agency as a democratic participant.
  • Protesting a War of Cowards and Madmen (Oct-2002)
    As much as the invasion of Iraq is a coward's war, it's also a madman's war, and there's a dangerous intersection between cowardice and madness where many acts of horror originate.
  • The Greatest Cliché: The Unexamined Propaganda of "Political Correctness" (Nov-2006)
    It's axiomatic that good writing tends to avoid clichés, because clear thinking is a fresh response to living reality, not a tired repurposing of brittle brain-crust. A logical inverse to this axiom is that political commentary tends to brim with toxic portions of vapid clichés, because good writing is about as widespread in today's political discourse as it is in corporate accounting memos.
  • The White Liberal Conundrum (Oct-2007)
    Many of my POC friends would actually prefer to hang out with an Archie Bunker-type who spits flagrantly offensive opinions, rather than a colorblind liberal whose insidious paternalism, dehumanizing tokenism, and cognitive indoctrination ooze out between superficially progressive words.

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