Preface: PC and Me
When I began to hear about political correctness as a senior at the Uni-
versity of Illinois in 1990, I wondered what I was missing. Where were the
radical students intimidating other students and teachers? Where were the ten-
ured radicals indoctrinating me with leftist propaganda? Where
I had encountered leftist professors and students, of course, but I had never
thought of them as the "thought police" that
told me were invading
college campuses. Most of the leftists I met seemed like nice people, polite
and tolerant of other people's views. And the conservative students and pro-
fessors I'd encountered didn't seem like victims of a new McCarthyism. They
had their own monthly newspaper funded by conservative foundations, their
own organizations, and their own campus lectures. I don't recall hearing any-
one called "racist" or "sexist" or "homophobic:' and I certainly never heard
anyone (except perhaps the conservatives) use the phrase
politically correct.
didn't hear many students challenging the "liberal orthodoxy," but then not
many of us challenged any orthodoxies. We sat in class and listened to the
teachers and read the assignments and wrote the papers and took the tests.
I went to college as the culture wars erupted in 1987, back when
ferred only to computers. But in my first week at the University of Illinois, my
philosophy professor assigned America's hottest best-seller, Allan Bloom's
Closing of the American Mind,
which begins: "There is one thing a professor
can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university be-
lieves, or says he believes, that truth is relative."
This assertion surprised me
because I'd never heard anyone say that
truth is relative. After all, one of the
complaints about politically correct people would be that they believed they
knew the truth and intimidated those who disagreed with them. In my classes
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