University instructor and grad student Freddie de Boer — a leftist, not a liberal — has had it with political correctness, and with those who deny it exists, and exacts real costs on real people. Excerpt:
I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 19 year old white woman — smart, well-meaning, passionate — literally run crying from a classroom because she was so ruthlessly brow-beaten for using the word “disabled.” Not repeatedly. Not with malice. Not because of privilege. She used the word once and was excoriated for it. She never came back. I watched that happen.
I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 20 year old black man, a track athlete who tried to fit organizing meetings around classes and his ridiculous practice schedule (for which he received a scholarship worth a quarter of tuition), be told not to return to those meetings because he said he thought there were such a thing as innate gender differences. He wasn’t a homophobe, or transphobic, or a misogynist. It turns out that 20 year olds from rural South Carolina aren’t born with an innate understanding of the intersectionality playbook. But those were the terms deployed against him, those and worse. So that was it; he was gone.
I have seen, with my own two eyes, a 33 year old Hispanic man, an Iraq war veteran who had served three tours and had become an outspoken critic of our presence there, be lectured about patriarchy by an affluent 22 year old white liberal arts college student, because he had said that other vets have to “man up” and speak out about the war. Because apparently we have to pretend that we don’t know how metaphorical language works or else we’re bad people. I watched his eyes glaze over as this woman with $300 shoes berated him. I saw that. Myself.
These things aren’t hypothetical. This isn’t some thought experiment. This is where I live, where I have lived. These and many, many more depressing stories of good people pushed out and marginalized in left-wing circles because they didn’t use the proper set of social and class signals to satisfy the world of intersectional politics. So you’ll forgive me when I roll my eyes at the army of media liberals, stuffed into their narrow enclaves, responding to Chait by insisting that there is no problem here and that anyone who says there is should be considered the enemy.
De Boer goes on to say:
I want a left that can win, and there’s no way I can have that when the actually-existing left sheds potential allies at an impossible rate. But the prohibition against ever telling anyone to be friendlier and more forgiving is so powerful and calcified it’s a permanent feature of today’s progressivism. And I’m left as this sad old 33 year old teacher who no longer has the slightest f**king idea what to say to the many brilliant, passionate young people whose only crime is not already being perfect.
Read the whole thing. And check out this smart follow-up post, in which de Boer discusses his view that the “accelerants” in these disputes are generally not people of color, et alia, but their middle-class white “allies” for whom progressive activism amounts to a status competition in which they have no real stakes.
I think the most important thing de Boer says here is that progressivism today forbids its adherents from being kinder and more merciful. There is some of that on the right as well, but then, right-wing people who are nasty and unforgiving generally don’t consider themselves to be paragons of compassion and sensitivity.
I think my favorite progressive must be the Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber, because in her book, she comes across as very left-wing, but also humble and compassionate. She’s a model for us all, not just progressives.