Dennis: Well, you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ‘cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
Arthur: Shut up!
Dennis: I mean, if I went ‘round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they’d put me away!
Arthur: Shut up! Will you shut up!
Dennis: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!
Arthur: Shut up!
—Michael Palin as Dennis, and Graham Chapman as King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Meet Erika Riemann.
In the Fall of 1945, the pretty teenager went to the first day of school in Mühlhausen, a small town tucked just inside what had recently become the Soviet-occupied zone of post-war Germany. She and her friends were amused to see that the familiar portrait of Adolf Hitler was gone, only to have been replaced by a portrait of Josef Stalin in exactly the same place. Thinking the Soviet dictator looked “a bit sad,” the mischievous schoolgirl took her mother’s lipstick and drew a bow on his moustache.
She was 14.
Two weeks later, the security apparatus came to ask her some questions. When she finally returned home, it was January . . . 1954.
She was 22.
During the intervening seven years, Miss Riemann was beaten and coerced into a bogus confession of being part of a pro-Nazi resistance. She was crowded into Soviet-repurposed former Nazi concentration camps with other political prisoners, and tortured. She was stripped naked, herded into a former gas chamber, and told she was about to be exterminated (water, not gas later flowed through the “showerheads”).
She was repeatedly and systematically gang-raped by soldiers.
All because she drew a lipstick bow on a photograph.
Rusty, Stalin is dead, the Berlin Wall has come down, and the Soviet Union is gone.
You say that, but remember that silencing not only dissent but even non-conformity with the Party line is a staple of the totalitarian Left. And while Eastern-Bloc communism may have more or less dissolved (albeit just in favor of a less overtly malevolent pan-European socialism), the Progressive movement hasn’t forgotten that the surest way to ensure conformity—and thus control—is to prevent the utterance of so much as a syllable out of line. After all, it is easy to win a debate when the opposition is mute.
With that, consider the following from Campus Reform. Washington State University students enrolled in Professor Selena Lester Breikss’ “Women & Popular Culture” course have been informed that they are in jeopardy of failing the class if they say anything that the good Professor in her infinitely superior judgment considers “oppressive and hateful.” Among the examples of potentially oppressive—and therefore banned—terms listed in the syllabus include the obviously offensive “male” and “female.”
I guess we’re all now just Thing 1 and Thing 2.
And Professor Breikss is not alone at WSU. Students in Professor Rebecca Fowler’s “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” are forbidden to use the term “illegal alien” lest they lose points. In a class explicitly devoted to helping students recognize “how white privilege functions,” Professor Fowler explains that the use of the term “illegal alien” has caused an artificial popular association of all border crossings with countries in Latin America, ignoring that a considerable portion of illegals in the U.S. are from Asia. Further, according to Professor Fowler, the perpetuation of “migrant illegality works to systematically dehumanize and exploit these brown bodies for their labor.”
Query how you make the leap from using the term “illegal alien” to the conclusion that people therefore assume all illegals are Hispanic. To the extent that they do, perhaps that has something to do with the fact that more than half of illegals are in fact from Mexico, and 75% are in fact from Latin America. More to the point, what does it matter whether anyone—whether because of demographic facts or semantics—believes all or most illegals are from Latin America? If you are here illegally, you are here illegally, whether you speak Spanish or Mandarin. And banning the use of the term “illegal” won’t make these people any less “exploited”—nobody made them come here and take jobs (if they don’t have jobs, there is no argument that anyone is “exploiting” them at all), and they are free to leave any time they want.
But the real issue is university faculty using threats and intimidation to silence speech that is contrary to their Progressive agenda.
It doesn’t stop there. WSU Professor John Streamas admonishes white students in his “Introduction to Multicultural Literature” class to “defer” to non-white students (I’m not even sure what that means, but they’d damn well better do it). Other WSU faculty apparently require students to acknowledge the continuing institutional oppression of racism, or that “we do not live in a post-racial world.”
And this is how it is with Progressives, because this is how it has always been. I reported last year about students at Penn State—in a designated “free speech zone,” no less—were hindered in their effort to distribute copies of the United States Constitution (the document most antithetical to the Progressive agenda of totalitarian control by a self-appointed intellectual elite), and at College of Coastal Georgia students were threatened with a 15% grade reduction if they said “bless you” in response to someone sneezing (thus implicitly invoking God, contrary to explicitly atheist Progressive/Socialist ideology). In the Washington State case, it isn’t controlling the narrative by preventing deviation from the cult of personality, it’s controlling the narrative by preventing deviation from the cult of victimhood.
A college campus is supposed to be an intellectual sanctuary where you question authority and established ideas, not sign rote statements “recognizing” some proposition as an unassailable truism. A university is a place where the free exchange of thought and ideas—which obviously can only occur if one can express those thoughts and ideas—is supposed to lead to vigorous debate and, ultimately, an improved state of knowledge for all of mankind. Think of it as a sort of Darwinist evolutionary soup where the fittest ideas survive, and weaker ideas are discarded. Indeed, the very point of tenure—which you know every one of the professors mentioned above would defend to the grave as the most sacrosanct of their [non]God-given rights—is that a professor should not have to fear losing her position simply because of the ideas discussed in her classroom.
But the Progressives have taken over our universities and turned that idea on its head. You would think that a college professor would be comfortable enough in his/her ability to defend the point to be able to engage a 19 year old kid. But rather than prevail in the marketplace of ideas, the Progressive prefers to avoid the debate and ensure that the Progressive brand is the only idea on the marketplace shelf. Universities are no longer great testing grounds of thought, but propaganda factories; and you will toe the line, or pay the price.
We see it time and again from the Left. Instead of debate ideas on the merits, anything with which they disagree they label it, identify some group (or the planet) as its victim, then marginalize and demonize it. If you want existing law enforced, the borders defended, and believe that the national motto should remain e pluribus unum—out of many, one—instead of e pluribus pluribus—out of many, many—then you are a racist and have no legitimate right to a voice. If you believe “climate change” is bullsh#t, then you are a denier and have no legitimate right to a voice. If you would rather not be forced at gunpoint to participate in a ceremony where Steve marries Bill, then you are a homophobe and have no legitimate right to a voice. If you believe that Islam’s 1400 year track record of non-stop violence, and the explicitly-stated aims of a present-day rabid minority consisting of at least 160 million Muslims is reason for concern, you are an Islamophobe and have no legitimate right to a voice. If you believe that innocent human life should be protected, or that at a minimum you shouldn’t be forced to pay the contraception bill for Sandra Fluke’s apparently almost inconceivably—pun intended—voracious sexual appetite, you are engaged in a “war on women,” and have no legitimate right to a voice.
Basically, you have no right to a voice.
God help you if you draw a bow on Obama’s moustache.