Definitions of political correctness changes with times

Keith Brumley

Keith Brumley?Post-neo-radical-moderate-intra-structural . . . guy ?

Most of us, when fascism comes up, think of Adolf Hitler. Fascism, however, is a term used by Italian dissidents after WWI culminating in Benito Mussolini’s rise to power. Mussolini for a while, was praised by everyone from American humorist Will Rogers to Winston Churchill, and even Sigmund Freud. It was only after he invaded Ethiopia that Mussolini’s good will came into question. Heck, even Hitler for a while, was admired by some of America’s leading diplomats.

So what is fascism?

In “Liberal Fascism: the Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning,” author Jonah Goldberg suggests fascism as nothing more than secular religion. He outlines its contemporary origins from Woodrow Wilson’s administration to the present, also referring to the French Revolution’s attempt to bring about a national religion. Fascism, like the term “post-modernism” is a word that has come to mean so many things, it means practically nothing at all. (At least that’s how philosopher Richard Rorty defined post-modernism . . . after being called one himself.)

Goldberg quotes Gilbert Allardyce as saying, “Simply put, we have agreed to use the word (fascism) without agreeing on how to define it.” Goldberg later points out that politicians, academicians8212;and just plain ordinary folk see fascism everywhere . . . except when they look in the mirror. George Orwell in his famous essay “Politics and the English Language” stated in 1946 that fascism has become a term we use to describe something8212;or someone8212;we don’t like. When we call someone a fascist, we no longer have to take that person8212;or that group8212;seriously. It is, to paraphrase Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ordinary language paradigm, a category that prompts one to cease thought. He or she is a fascist, we say, and that’s that. Case closed.

But what, if in doing so, we become the fascists? It turns our smiley faces into frowns, doesn’t it?

Goldberg points out that fascism has become synonymous with heretic, “branding individuals worthy of excommunication from the body politic.”

This means that I8212;or you8212;by virtue of practically anything, can be branded a racist, a homophobe, a sexist, a Christianist, a baby-killer, or any other thing politically incorrect.

All we have to do is say the “wrong” word at the “wrong” time and associate with the “wrong” people. This is why the political correctness movement has fallen into such disrepute. It creates a politic paranoid where one person can say one thing but another can’t say it because he/she/they are of the wrong color, sex, culture or race8212;and are consequently without the concomitant entitlement. In a Facebook debate, I was told my self-description of being a “flaming red-hot heterosexual” was offensive because the gay community views the word “flaming” as derogatory. Also, I was once made painfully aware that being a single, 55 year old, white, Euroamerican male makes me suspect as a sexual predator.

I’ve been on the “wrong” side of cultural discourse for most of my adult life 8212; and maybe even childhood. I was raised in a blue-collar family, and even places like Lemmon, S.D., have their body politic. Thanks to my first grade teacher, I developed a love of history. This, however, was discouraged by my second and third grade teachers.

Perhaps being the son of my working-class parents put me on a different educational track. In any event, I felt a bit guilty every time I picked up a history book that wasn’t part of the public school curriculum for several years thereafter.

When I first came to SDSU, I was a yokel from the outback of northwestern South Dakota. Since I came from a family of stockmen, horsemen, and cowboys, I was an unrefined red neck. Since I rodeoed, working the bareback riding event, I was an abuser of animals. Since I questioned the reasoning behind militant feminism, I was a sexist. And, since I occasionally questioned what I was being taught, I was branded a trouble-maker. I’ve even the honor of being called by the now retired Dean of Education a . . . well, let’s forget that.

Call me crazy. (I’m a certified depressive.) Call me mean. Call me politically incorrect. Hey, you can even call me lazy8212;but don’t call me a liar . . . and don’t, for Christ’s sake, call me a fascist. I’ll leave that one up to God.

Keith Brumley is an SDSU alumnus and current journalism graduate student at SDSU. Contact Keith at [email protected]