Come full circle

I had many reactions while reading the paid advertisement regarding Holocaust revisionism in Friday’s Northern Star. There can be no doubt that such an item will generate a great deal of commentary on campus similar to many other recent controversies.

This fact alone defeats the widely touted argument that campuses have been purged of free speech by the “political correctness” movement.

Rather than comment on the “facts” presented in the ad, I would simply like to point out the hypocrisy of those who brandish the PC flag to promote their own free speech while discouraging the free speech of others.

As I understand it, PC refers to the suppression of views other than those that are popularly accepted. The pervasive anti-communism of the 1950s is often used as an example of PC since pro-communism views were so severely suppressed and punished at the time.

The 1990s version of the PC issue seems to center around race, gender, and sexual orientation issues, claiming that anyone who introduces a nonpopular view (current examples being anti-affirmative action, pro-Holocaust revisionism) is immediately labelled as “racist,” “sexist,” or “homophobic” and thereby punished for speaking freely.

The PC issue has now come full-circle. Some free speakers (including the author of the advertisement about the Holocaust) would appear to like us to believe that any disagreement with them is a form of PC. To disagree with the issues raised in the Holocaust ad makes one a member of the “Thought Police.” That hardly encourages open discussion.

It is my hope that no one believes we have eliminated racism, sexism, or homophobia from our world. The anti-PC movement seems to want us to wipe these words from our vocabularies because they are used at times to punish and suppress. Until these problems are resolved, however, I claim the right to continue identifying racism, sexism, or homophobia where I see it.

But we all have something to learn from the PC movement. It rightfully challenges us to use our words to express ourselves and encourage dialogue among even starkly contrasted views. I commend the Northern Star for accepting this advertisement and opening up the PC issue to further examination and debate.

James J. Biederman

Graduate Student