“The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often.”
“[The English language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts… if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
I hereby resolve to stop saying that political correctness has reached its lowest ebb. I fear that the header of the linked article — “Peak Craziness” – may be inaccurate. A peak for now, maybe, but there is no area of life that is not ripe for “woke” intervention, and the latest is the teaching of English itself.
I agree with the comments and wish I’d written the piece. It’s a sad commentary that this article is not parody (as might appear in the old MAD Magazine), or a prank, or a meme, or a piece of Russian disinformation. No: it is for real.
It’s another example of the post-modern canards that anything can mean anything and everything is a symbol of oppression or privilege. How can they have it both ways?
The underlying narrative is all — and always — about privilege and oppression. If you look for oppression all the time, you will find it everywhere.
The Rutgers decision is more proof that language is being politicized in the interests of control: Control of what people can say leads to power over what they think and do.
If the hard left can brainwash young people — and adult faculty, who should know better — to accept (at least, outwardly) the invalidity and social irrelevance of conventional forms of speaking and writing (I will omit, for now, discussion of the notions “rule of grammar” or “correctness” and just go with “conventions”), they will have satisfied, for now, the insatiable hunger of political correctness, but at tremendous cost.
An obscene violation
The Rutgers decision is an obscene violation of the institution’s purpose: to prepare students for the world they will enter. The English profs who fail to do this are disabling students and consigning them to low-level jobs in the socialist paradise.
And by denying students access to and practice in the complex grammatical/lexical/semantic nuances of the, yes, standard language, the profs deliberately make then illiterate, irrational (F*** the Enlightenment!), easily manipulable, and prone to believe anything.
Why do they do it?
The current Atlantic (July/August 2020), has an article — “Collaborators,” by Jane Applebaum — that probes the reasons why people collaborate. Examples include Cold War spies, French collaborators with the Nazis, collaboration with the Russians in the Soviet-run tyrannies of Eastern Europe, McCain and Romney and their (dis)loyalty to Trump, and of course, collaboration with Trump himself.
What is it that makes people obey an ideology that they think may be untrue or know to be a lie? Small concessions, self-rationalization, survival, and just plain fear. Applebaum writes “cynicism, nihilism, relativism, amorality, irony, sarcasm, boredom, amusement—these are reasons to collaborate, and always have been.”
Living the lie
By these criteria, the Rutgers English professors are total collaborators. They know the truth about language variation and (perceived) social status. But it’s SO much easier to live the lie.
As in the USSR, the cancel/left culture has raised the stakes very high. You don’t get tortured or sent to a concentration camp, but you could lose your job and much more. You could be cancelled.
It’s all good
But for the English profs, it’s all good. According to these mealy-mouthed hypocrites, it’s OK to let students speak and write any way they want, because the profs, you see, already speak and write in the prestige dialect. They can afford to be super-liberal about anyone’s non-standard writing and disdain for “correctness”; they can afford to be cavalier about the consequences.
Calling all other linguists!
Where are the big-name linguists – Lakoff, Pullum, McWhorter, Chomsky the Great One? How about a full-page letter in the New York Times, signed by a couple hundred linguists, about the idiocy of this decision before it spreads to other centers of “higher learning”? Dream on. They’re comfortably tenured (or busy as beavers trying to get tenure) in the very institutions that promote this insane BS.
There is a difference.
Linguists observe objective facts about language, to the extent possible, and one such fact is the correlation between particular language behavior and social status. In every literate society, there is a prestige form of speech and writing — the dialects of London, Peking, and Moscow, for example. It’s been said that a language is just a dialect with an army and a navy. Moreover, societies all over the world differentiate “high” and “low” speech, defined by audience, purpose, context, and other factors. Linguist John McWhorter says that Trump uses only “low” speech.
I’m not making the rules – just reporting them.
If I were a Rutgers parent, I would withdraw my kid and sue the university. If I were a member of the English Department, I would quit and apply for a job at my local Waste Management office. I would consider it more honorable to haul garbage than to dispense it.