(June 26) A near-totalitarianism of thought, speech, and ideas continues to rampage through the public square. It must be fought, and it must be defeated. And people need to calm down rather than looking for new reasons to take politically correct offense at ever-growing lists of imaginary sleights that never were rooted in animus, racial or otherwise, in the first place.

On June 25, the U.S. Department of Education threatened to fine the University of California, Los Angeles for threatening disciplinary action against a professor who ran afoul of the perpetually offended race police. The department’s concerns are justified. The alleged sin of the professor, Lt. Col. W. Ajax Peris, was to say the N-word as part of reading aloud the famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. To compound his sin, he also showed a documentary film that included a narrator quoting the same word in explaining the history of lynching.

Bizarrely, UCLA is seriously considering a penalty on a professor who was honoring the fight against racism by directly quoting original sources, including King, the civil rights movement’s patron saint. (King himself twice cited the word as an example of the indignity black people faced.) If not even scholars at a university are allowed to quote original source material to elucidate the sources and nature of historical controversies, then we are living in a malignant tyranny of ignorance.

Elsewhere, a Minnesota school system is joining the willfully philistine ranks of those who remove two genuinely anti-racist classics, Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, from their curricula because both include that same word.

And of course, benighted protesters are threatening to tear down a famous statue from Lincoln Park in Washington because it shows a black man at Abraham Lincoln’s feet. This despite the fact that the man is actively breaking free of his shackles and arising rather than passively accepting beneficence from Lincoln as some sort of white father — and despite the fact that many freed slaves donated money for that very statue’s construction as a celebration of their liberty….

[The full column is here.]


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