The superpredator craze was started by John DiIulio Jr., Princeton political scientist and notorious hoarder of vowels. DiIulio kept busy, publishing his superpredator research in scholarly journals and promoting it on any outlet that would have him. In television interviews, he argued that current demographics meant that youth crime was guaranteed to explode in the coming years — basically, the more youths, the more crime. As DiIulio saw it, inner cities were breeding hardened criminals younger and younger, and soon, roving bands of black teenagers would be terrorizing the streets of major American cities in packs, looting stores and playing the knockout game whilst listening to both hip and hop.
Newsweek“Our only defense is an army of SuperSchwarzeneggers.”
But in reality, violent juvenile offenses dropped by almost two-thirds over the next decade and a half … which anyone honestly looking at the data could have predicted would happen. Violent crime tends to go down the more teenagers we have loitering around. DiIulio tried to weasel out of responsibility by saying “Demography is not fate,” despite the fact he had been on TV pretty much saying, “Demography is fate, and it’s coming for you in a dark alley!”
The Whole “Political Correctness Has Gone Too Far!” Panic Comes From A 1990 New York Times Column
People have been complaining about supposed runaway political correctness in society long before 2016, when use of the phrase became almost Shakespearean in its irony. The whole “Telling me I can’t be an asshole is the REAL oppression!” idea is not a new one. And it comes not from some influential right-wing outlet like Breitbart or even its third-rate knockoff, Bartbreit — it first appeared in The New York Times.
In 1990, NYT reporter Richard Bernstein dropped a bombshell with his article “The Rising Hegemony Of The Politically Correct.” The term “political correctness” was already in use then, but mostly by leftists and with the appropriate air quotes and sarcastic tone. Bernstein’s article changed that, launching a wave of PC panic that would eventually carry an anthropomorphized email forward from grandma into the White House. And like most scares over political correctness, both the original article and the book-length version that followed were based on pure BS.
Vintage BooksA politically incorrect book. As in, all the political conclusions are incorrect.
Bernstein, echoing the words of Jerry Seinfeld from the future, claimed that universities in the U.S. were falling prey to “a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform.” He couldn’t believe that students at Berkeley were expected to accept radical concepts like (scare quotes in the original) “the white male power structure,” or the unthinkable idea that “everybody but white heterosexual males has suffered some form of repression and been denied a cultural voice.” The demographics were changing in colleges across the U.S., and Bernstein was baffled that the curriculums were changing too.
Bernstein indignantly accused college professors of pushing their political agenda, even though that’s exactly what he was doing. He cited trailblazing anti-PC authors like Allan Bloom and Roger Kimball, both of whom were funded by conservative donors and think tanks which were trying to push the national conversation to the right. It took them a while, but it worked. Bernstein’s article led to a string of similar stories in outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and Time, most of which took isolated “political correctness gone mad” anecdotes from campuses and blew them out of proportion. One New York Magazine story told of a Harvard professor who had been persecuted by students enraged by his racial insensitivity. The professor in question then went on the record to say that this never happened, but it was too late. He was already a martyr of the PC wars.
Today, people trot out the “political correctness has gone too far” argument to defend a football team being named after a racist slur, to complain about actual Nazis being called “Nazis,” and of course, to whine about college kids. Saying “How about that political correctness, huh?” is now considered a legitimate political platform. Thanks a lot, Richard Bernstein!
Propaganda is more than just posters, folks. Be careful.
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