While some liberal commentators assume that the politically correct (PC) charge is a way to deflect from those wanting to buttress racism or some other ism I think the effect of the charge is wider, more pernicious. I have come to think of it as means to dismiss any opinion if it is currently identified as liberal.
A recent case involves a friend of mine who attended the Society of Christian Philosophers meeting that hosted a talk by Richard Swinburne, where he raised an objection to Swinburne’s interpretation of homosexuality as some kind of medical deficiency. Notice how Rod Dreher treats this objection
but for heaven’s sake, if a Christian cannot defend orthodox Christian teaching at conference of Christian philosophers without being denounced (as distinct from argued with), we are in deep trouble.
Notice that Hackett doesn’t bother explaining what Swinburne said. He assumes that his “abhorrence and overwhelming anger” is sufficient. How dare Swinburne!
Notice how J Edward Hackett treats it
My response was mixture of abhorrence and overwhelming anger, and I tried as I might to encounter this idea calmly. I told him he medicalized being gay in the same way that phrenology medicalized racism. It was obnoxious to listen to Christians lay claim to sacrificial love at this conference, but at the same time not see the virtue of that same love as a possible quality underlying other configurations, yet I told others this is the reason why Christians should read Foucault. When you do, you start to notice how power manifests in local contexts in which those discourses occur.
Apparently J Edward Hackett has no argument. But if you read his two pieces he does of course. It is just one that Rod Dreher doesn’t think should have a space at a Christian conference. After all, if you can’t assume orthodoxy here at a Christian philosopher’s meeting (and he assumes the anti LGBT stance is just that) where can you assume it?
Now there are two directions one can go with this line of reasoning. One is to say that J Edward Hackett is just PC. This has the effect of not having to give any attention to his argument. Which Rod Dreher does. But then, and this is why I call it a kind of McCarthyism, is he is able to link this view with totalitarianism, communism and of course worst of all liberalism.
A liberalism that won’t leave someone like Rod Dreher and the Christian Philosopher’s Association alone. The mere disagreement with J Edward Hackett is enough to produce this view, a view of persecution. When disagreement is persecution, we get a sense of the problem with how “religious liberty” arguments are handled by the right.
Addendum: If you can simply use the word liberal or PC, which means the same thing in the right’s lexicon, as wicked and beyond hope, that word has the same effect as the terms racist or sexist does among liberals. It is a word that shuts down conversation. So that you’re doing what you say you hate about liberals.
The social values of Leftism, has replaced the space and institutions once dominated by White Christian America. As we’ve seen in the academy, where religion – particularly Christianity – has been shamed into public silence and private expression, the receding influence and presence of “white” Christian America has allowed the academy to degenerate into a moral gutter. The same is true regarding the debased nature of arts and entertainment, which have occupied spaces where Christianity served as a bulwark against its corruption.
Liberal is a stand in for “corruption”, “debased” “degenerate” and “moral gutters”. Tell me these are not conversation stoppers.
Dwight Welch is the pastor at the United Church of Norman, Oklahoma