The Multicultural Politically Correct Briar Patch

Despite the establishment attempts to throttle free speech—most recently actions taken by PayPal, by Google, by Facebook, by Amazon and by other major Internet sites to both block access to sites that these lords of the Net consider to be “racist, sexist, extremist, Neo-Confederate and far right,” and to prevent Internet financial transactions for them—still there are intrepid souls out there who increasingly risk not only this kind of censorship, but even worse penalties. Is not jail time a real possibility in the future for those—for us—who do not conform to the increasingly severe and ideologically weaponized rules and laws that emit from our managerial elites, both seen and unseen?

The student who makes what, in the opinion of a female student, is a “sexist” remark can be, in too many colleges to name, sanctioned, even expelled. A worker in a business who happens to let slip a word or comment vaguely considered “racist,” or homophobic by someone standing near, can be terminated, or, perhaps even worse, made to sit through interminable “sensitivity” sessions organized by that company’s EEOC bureaucrats.

Back when I was gainfully employed by the North Carolina State Archives, I recall an incident that illustrates this so very well, and with accompanying irony.  It began with a committee of senior archivists meeting to discuss the accession of a major haul of government records. Those records were a jumble, that is, totally unorganized and which would require major arrangement and description, and quite a bit of time dedicated to them to make them usable. One member of the committee—by no means at all a right wing type—casually mentioned that he hoped we would “not get thrown into that briar patch,” approximating and paraphrasing language and imagery that shows up in the famous literary collection, Uncle Remus, by the great Southern fiction writer and folklorist, Joel Chandler Harris.

Well, you would have thought that Sheriff “Bull” Connor himself had risen up from his grave, from Selma, Alabama, with Billy clubs, water hoses, and angry German shepherd dogs! One woman on the committee, a black lady, immediately accused the offending fellow archivist of “racism” and “employing racist imagery” and showing “hatred.”  Instead of attempting to calm matters and assure the offended archivist that certainly no insult was intended, the head of the committee panicked. And no manner of explanations from the archivist who made the comment would suffice to assuage the lady’s perceived “racist” insult.

As a result, the entire staff was compelled—forced—to sit through a long “racial sensitivity” session, counseling was offered, staged “role play” during the indoctrination was performed, and we were all requested to fill out an “evaluation form” about how we planned to combat on-the-job racism and racist-tinged commentary, humor, etc., etc.

But that was not the end of it. The “incident” went up the chain of command. Later we were once again compelled to attend, but this time smaller, more intimate sessions in which “interaction” with paid “counselors” took place. My attendance, however, was short lived: during my first encounter I demanded to know how they defined terms. How did they define “racism,” what was “bigotry,” how did we determine what was an innocent comment made off hand about a racial minority, and how did we distinguish that from “racist” behavior? How could we know if a comment we made referring to our state’s Confederate history might be considered “racist” by someone overhearing us?

Those counselors looked at me with mounting disgust and frustration—obviously, I should have known that those “devil terms” were whatever the current enforcers of political correctness intended for them to mean. The whole process was, essentially, intended to turn the white staffers, especially white males on staff, into obliging, weak-brained wimps and pallid “metrosexuals”—the latest step in an ongoing process of confirming the template of the culturally Marxist Left on race and sex.

At the end of the first session, I was politely told that I did not have to return for any additional sessions, that I had finished my training…but I can’t help thinking that from then on some higher ups kept a wary eye on me.

Ironic it seems: on one hand we are rigorously told that race is just skin deep, that we aren’t supposed to notice the color of a person’s skin or sex, but rather only his or her character. But at the very same time we are firmly importuned to understand that because of past white oppression, we must compensate for past injustices, engage in reparations of some sort, bend to affirmative action—all based singularly on race!

You may remember that classic comedy film, No Time for Sergeants, starring Andy Griffith, and you may also recall the scene where Andy’s sergeant informs him that when he sees a female officer that he is looking not at a lady, but only an officer—and then the subsequent hilarity occasioned by Andy’s refusal to acknowledge the femininity of an officer he encounters.

Just like in Andy’s case, this sort of indoctrination was—and is—enough to make any sensible person go totally mad, to engender fear of offending, and to provoke in many recipients a certain kind of paralysis when it comes to social interaction. But, and I witnessed this in my own environment, I think it was intended that way: if not completely to pervert and transform a person’s normal and natural thinking processes, to at the very least render him docile and mentally castrated, unable—or more so, unwilling—to challenge the multiculturalist political correctness that infects our society and our culture, and incapable of resisting the seemingly inevitable latest advance of Big Brother and cultural Marxism.

My parents never realized how utterly racist they were when they read those fanciful Joel Chandler Harris stories to my sister and me when we were children…or took us to see Walt Disney’s now apparently embargoed The Song of the South.  But, then, we did not live in an “enlightened” society back then….

About Boyd Cathey

Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations. More from Boyd Cathey

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