Lawrence Solomon: Americans are finally overthrowing political correctness run amok

(November 18, 2016) Without pro-active governments taking on Big Brother roles, political correctness would be an irrelevant factor in the economy and in our lives.

This article, by Lawrence Solomon, first appeared in the National Post

This is the best of times and the worst of times for political correctness. The best because political correctness has reached never-before-seen heights under Obama; the worst because it’s all downhill from here. With PC-abhorring Republicans in control of the presidency, both houses of Congress, over 60 per cent of governorships, over 60 per cent of state legislatures and — most meaningfully — Supreme Court nominations, political correctness and the draconian architecture around it could now be doomed for decades.

The spectacles following Donald Trump’s election last week capture the absurd, even comical, extremes to which political correctness has come: colleges comforting students distraught at the election result by cancelling their exams and providing them with therapy dogs; protesters who didn’t bother to vote for Hillary Clinton taking to the streets to express their outrage over those who voted for Trump; mayors of America’s crime-ridden sanctuary cities refusing to co-operate with the federal government in deporting the violent criminals that threaten their citizens.

Political correctness isn’t a purely cultural phenomenon, a merely autonomous product of a free market of ideas in an era of enlightenment and progress. It is a multi-billion-dollar industry, funded, promoted, regulated and enforced by government. Without pro-active governments taking on Big Brother roles, political correctness would be an irrelevant factor in the economy and in our lives.

Exhibit A is manmade global warming, a litmus test for the politically correct. Since the 1990s, governments have spent billions of dollars a year in research promoting the global warming orthodoxy — by this decade the annual spending rose to US$20 billion.

Any scientist seeking research funds in the field — even distantly related fields — knew that governments were unlikely to fund work that didn’t toe the government line, and so fell into line. Universities also enforced the orthodoxy on their faculties, silencing academics willing even to self-fund their projects, out of fear that entire university departments would be tainted by a single rogue “denier.”

Government meteorologists also had to toe the line — those that didn’t were fired. So too with others within government or dependent on government licenses, contracts or grants, including NGOs, many of which abandoned their traditional focus on air, water, forests and chemicals because the money lay in global warming.

Because overwhelming government propaganda wasn’t enough to silence non-conformity, regulation over the private sector was also brought to bear: Fossil fuel projects were effectively outlawed while alternatives to fossil fuels — wind, solar and other renewables — were lavished with hundreds of billions of dollars in mandates or other forms of subsidies.

The result was the creation of a taboo subject in which skeptical views were punished and alarmist views rewarded. Likewise, taboos in other fields, such as skepticism over mandatory vaccinations, have been manufactured by governments, also the result of one-sided research, mandates, regulation, enforcement and the demonization of those who didn’t hew to the government line. Likewise, social justice issues, such as income inequality or police profiling, were enforced by government-sponsored orthodoxies.

With the Republicans’ ascension to power, the taboo edifice is about to collapse, particularly since Trump and his close advisers are outspoken opponents of political correctness who revel in its ridicule and are driven to see its collapse. In this, they will have the wholehearted support of the Republican establishment and the overwhelming support of the public.

When Trump became the front-runner for the Republican nomination, largely on the strength of his political incorrectness, Rasmussen conducted a poll to gauge the strength of public feelings. It found that 71 per cent of American adults viewed political correctness as a problem, with only 18 per cent disagreeing.

Trump-led Republicans will change the politically correct culture with their rhetoric by making it mainstream to speak incorrectly in public but even more, they will change it with their dollars, by scrapping funding for politically correct causes.

The billions that have underpinned the global-warming-related propaganda machine — everything from funding for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to one-sided research grants to global warming advocacy — will all but vanish, as will government restrictions on coal and other fossil fuel development. Other instruments of government control will also shed their politically correct biases, not least the heavily politicized Supreme Court, where new appointments are likely to be hostile to political correctness for decades to come.

Barack Obama — the ultimate PC president — fully opened Americans’ eyes to political correctness run amok. Political correctness was decades in the making but it won’t take decades to undo it. The unwinding begins Inauguration Day, Jan. 20th.

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe. Email:

About Lawrence Solomon

Lawrence Solomon is one of Canada's leading environmentalists. His book, The Conserver Solution (Doubleday) popularized the Conserver Society concept in the late 1970s and became the manual for those interested in incorporating environmental factors into economic life. An advisor to President Jimmy Carter's Task Force on the Global Environment (the Global 2000 Report) in the late 1970's, he has since been at the forefront of movements to reform foreign aid, stop nuclear power expansion and adopt toll roads. Mr. Solomon is a founder and managing director of Energy Probe Research Foundation and the executive director of its Energy Probe and Urban Renaissance Institute divisions. He has been a columnist for The Globe and Mail, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the editor and publisher of the award-winning The Next City magazine, and the author or co-author of seven books, most recently The Deniers, a #1 environmental best-seller in both Canada and the U.S. .
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