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Political Correctness

A Response from the Cultural Left

1996
Authors:

Richard Feldstein and Teresa Brennan

Political Correctness

A hard-hitting assessment of the way the Right has used this divisive issue.

Written with refreshing clarity and wit, Political Correctness describes a cultural nonphenomenon brought into being by the desires of neoconservatives. Nostalgic for the simple moral logic of the Cold War, the conservative Right has created an evil empire within and conferred upon its enemies-from multiculturalists to postmodernists and poststructuralists-a McCarthyite agenda that demands action from the high-minded.

Ignore this book at your own risk! Political Correctness exposes and analyzes with courage Right-Wing attempts to discredit and demoralize progressive educators in the U.S. Turning the gaze of post-structualist theory back upon those who would vilify it, Richard Feldstein helps us understand how and why the American Right has decided to demonize feminist women, people of color, homosexuals, non-Christians, artists—and especially intellectuals—at the fin-de-siècle. Teresa Brennan’s introduction represents original thought at its best.”

Alice Jardine, Harvard University

If our so-called culture war seems all on the side of the Right, there’s a reason. It’s all in their heads. From the beleaguered-some would say baffled-silence on the Left, this book at long last emerges with a devastating diagnosis of the “debate” over political correctness.

Written with refreshing clarity and wit, Political Correctness describes a cultural nonphenomenon brought into being by the desires of neoconservatives. Nostalgic for the simple moral logic of the Cold War, the conservative Right has created an evil empire within and conferred upon its enemies-from multiculturalists to postmodernists and poststructuralists-a McCarthyite agenda that demands action from the high-minded.

What clearly marks this as a projection, Richard Feldstein points out, is the moralism attributed to the forces of political correctness by their conservative critics. And where, in fact, do we find the obsessive fixation on judgment, morality, and correct and appropriate behavior that might make political correctness so reprehensible? It is, Feldstein argues, a central feature of right-wing thinking, projected onto those who reject such black-and-white, good-and-bad views as naive. Political Correctness defines this procedure in comparison with the process of psychological projection, in which consciousness transfers onto others what it cannot tolerate. In the case of cultural projection, Feldstein says, the transference is often intentional. In readings of key neoconservative texts, Feldstein shows how this approach got its initial boost with the ascension of Reagan and the Moral Majority, continued as the dominant form of Republicanism in the Bush-Quayle era, and persists during the Clinton administration.

Political Correctness is not just an essential tool to understanding the way the Right deploys this powerful weapon; it is a guide to resisting the cynical use of these tactics in our media-saturated society, one that acknowledges the complexity of life in our multicultural, postmodern world.


Political Correctness

Richard Feldstein is professor of English at Rhode Island College.

Political Correctness

Ignore this book at your own risk! Political Correctness exposes and analyzes with courage Right-Wing attempts to discredit and demoralize progressive educators in the U.S. Turning the gaze of post-structualist theory back upon those who would vilify it, Richard Feldstein helps us understand how and why the American Right has decided to demonize feminist women, people of color, homosexuals, non-Christians, artists—and especially intellectuals—at the fin-de-siècle. Teresa Brennan’s introduction represents original thought at its best.”

Alice Jardine, Harvard University

This is an important book for those who are concerned about the future of higher education and free thought in the United States. To do nothing means defeat, since the right is well-organized, well-funded, and speaks with once voice. Reading this book can go a long way toward building up a resistance to the ‘anti-PC’ movement which, though it is fighting a phantom, can still hurt real people.

The Political Investigator