October 24th 2015

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Labor proposes expanded role for infrastructure fund

CANBERRA OBSERVED Crossbench unity plugs Coalition water spill

EDITORIAL Deplorable attack on Sir Peter Lawler

LITIGATION Appeal to freedoms will not avail for Archbishop

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Europe generous in face of Middle-Eastern influx

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Europe's refugee crisis was much worse last time

CULTURE WARS The PC left is saving us from ... Tintin and Twain

SCIENCE AND CERTAINTY No safety in numbers as variable as these

EUTHANASIA Belgium, Netherlands in the grip of the small laws

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Marriage redefinition will feed government business

PUBLIC POLICY A wake-up call from land of rocky highs and lows

CINEMA Respectfully intended to make you laugh: The Intern

BOOK REVIEW Clearing the head


Books promotion page

The PC left is saving us from ... Tintin and Twain

by Kevin Donnelly

News Weekly, October 24, 2015

There is no stopping the cultural left’s political correctness (PC) movement. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination wants to ban one of the Netherland’s long-cherished children’s characters, Black Pete.

Tintin: imperialist.

Black Pete, a figure with a black face and a gold earing, accompanies St Nicholas at Christmas time handing out treats to grateful children. Apparently, the danger is that people of colour will be offended because of the negative stereotype portrayed associated with slavery.

Children’s books, songs and even fairytales are also falling victim to the PC movement. Last year a Victorian primary school changed the lyrics to Kookaburra Sits on the Old Gum Tree because the line “Gay your life must be” was in danger of upsetting the LGBTIQ thought-police.

Little Black Sambo has long disappeared from library shelves, Enid Blyton’s The Three Gollywogs is listed as one of the 10 most politically incorrect children’s books, and Tintin in the Congo is attacked for promoting racist views linked to European imperialism.

Even Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 film Cinderella has also been ruled decidedly politically incorrect as feminists argue it promotes an unrealistic body image to young girls and, like Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, privileges heterosexual relationships.

Arising out of the counterculture movement of the 1970s and ’80s that dominated university campuses across Europe, England, America and Australia, the PC movement argues that traditional institutions such as the family, the church, universities and schools are misogynist, patriarchal, elitist, Eurocentric and Christian.

PC has long been the dominant narrative that stifles any disagreement or debate. One of Australia’s greatest historians, Geoffrey Blainey, during the mid to late 1980s was run out of Melbourne University’s history department for questioning the rate of Asian immigration.

Fred Hollows, who committed his life to curing blindness in Aboriginal communities, was attacked during the early 1990s for daring to suggest that HIV and AIDS were closely associated with homosexuality.

In his 1996 ABC Boyer Lectures, Canberra-based world-famous China expert Pierre Ryckmans was so concerned about the impact of the PC movement on academic objectivity and standards that he argued it represented “the fully consummated demise of the university”.

Earlier this year, the University of Western Australia cancelled the research centre involving Bjorn Lomborg, supposedly because he was a climate change sceptic. Ignored is that Lomborg admits global warming is an important issue that needs to be tackled.

And on American college campuses political correctness is alive and well, as proven by the emergence of “trigger warnings’’ – a situation where so-called victim groups and individuals have to be safeguarded from encountering literature that might engender a sense of disadvantage or emotional and psychological stress.

Trigger warnings, much like warnings on cigarette packets about cancer and death, signal that what is about to be read, viewed or listened to is potentially offensive.

Mark Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn, for example, offends Americans of colour because Jim, the runaway slave, is described as a “nigger”. Ignored is the fact that Twain clearly supports Jim in seeking his freedom, as proven by Huck’s change of heart about slavery.

I wonder what the feminists would make of Marvell’s poem, To His Coy Mistress, where the poet argues that the lovers should seize the moment and consummate their relationship: “Now let us sport us while we may,/And now, like amorous birds of prey,/Rather at once our time devour,/Than languish in his slow-chapped power.”

PC advocates are vocal about freedom of expression and the need to embrace diversity and difference. The hypocrisy is that at the same time anyone who questions progressive causes, such as reconciliation, multiculturalism, feminism, sustainability or the LGBTIQ rainbow alliance, is vilified.

Just witness the attacks on those critical of Burwood Girls High School’s decision to screen the pro-gay movie Gayby Baby film during the normal school day. Christian minister Mark Powell has been especially targeted for personal abuse.

As George Orwell argued in Politics in the English Language, and illustrated in his novel, 1984, the way language is employed is vital to the battle of ideas and to safeguard democratic liberties like freedom of expression and freedom of thought.

The greatest danger with the PC movement, like totalitarian regimes of the left and the right, is that it seeks to censure debate, silence contrary views and ensure all conform to a group mentality where there is no opposition.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University. This article first appeared in The Daily ­Telegraph on September 22, 2015.

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