“The Children of Political Correctness”
by Emeritus Professor Howard S. Schwartz, PhD
Professor of Organizational Behavior in the School of Business Administration,
Oakland University, USA
Within the past year or so, political correctness, thought by many to have disappeared from the American university setting, is said to have returned in a new form. The old PC was characterized by pressures to eliminate speech seen as objectionable on moral grounds. The new form, it is said, is marked by a drive to suppress speech seen as dangerous, in the sense that it threatens the safety and security of those whom it reminds of previous traumas having to do with racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like. Those who express these fears, sometimes mockingly referred to as “precious snowflakes”, demand to be protected from these “microaggressions” by the use of “trigger warnings” when they may be subjected to ideas that that they may find disturbing. They demand that “safe spaces” be established for them where they may recover from their “post traumatic stress disorder,” and they have no compunctions about damaging the livelihoods and reputations of those who do not support their program.
A question has arisen as to where these precious snowflakes have come from. The most common answer is that they are the children of “helicopter parents” who have obsessively protected them from all threat, and so rendered them overly vulnerable. My claim will be, to the contrary, that they are not the children of helicopter parents but of political correctness itself, which never disappeared but simply became a feature of social structure. They grew up with the idea that the myths of oppression fostered by PC represent the real world, which is corrupt. They have developed a sense of themselves as “pristine selves”, who are entitled to be touched by nothing but love; the world, if not corrupted, would be their mother. They believe that this would be their condition if the love had not been stolen by the villains established by PC: the white heterosexual males who represent the patriarch, the father, who is responsible for its corruption.
In my presentation I will develop this theory of the precious snowflakes, beginning with an analysis of videos taken at a recent confrontation at Yale University. Then I will explore what it would mean for our society to be recast in accordance with the domination of this psychology.
Howard S. Schwartz is a professor emeritus at Oakland University. He studied philosophy at Antioch College, the University of Pittsburgh, and UCSD. His PhD is in organizational behavior from Cornell University. Schwartz’s scholarly work concerns the psychodynamics of political correctness. He has published three books on the subject, the latest of which is Political Correction and the Destruction of Social Order: Chronicling the Rise of the Pristine Self. It was released in October by Palgrave Macmillan. He currently lives in New York City with his wife Ann.