In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” George Orwell’s classic novel about a totalitarian and dystopian future, the ruling Party develops “Newspeak” as way to limit freedom of expression and thought. So, for example, “goodthink” refers to thoughts approved by the Party. That which is not “goodthink” is apt to be “crimethink.”
In the real world of today, we use a different but no less Orwellian vocabulary. On university campuses and in the mainstream media we now have a growing body of rules, both written and tacit, mandating that only “politically correct” views be expressed.
I maintain that “political correctness” has as much to do with what is correct — i.e. true — as “ethnic cleansing” has to do with personal hygiene.
What does it have to do with instead? Orthodoxy — a word that comes the Greek orthos, meaning right, and doxa, meaning opinions. Those enforcing what they deem “right opinions” (or orthodoxy or political correctness) have become the new Establishment. (Which, I suppose, makes those of us who oppose and resist them unorthodox and anti-Establishment.)
Actually, the new orthodoxy is not so very new. In The New York Times 26 years ago next month, journalist and author Richard Bernstein noted that the term had for some years been in use to communicate “a kind of ‘correct’ attitude toward the problems of the world. …The view that Western civilization is inherently unfair to minorities, women and homosexuals has been at the center of politically correct thinking on campuses.”
The news in his story was that political correctness was becoming “a sarcastic jibe used by those, conservatives and classical liberals alike, to describe what they see as a growing intolerance, a closing of debate, a pressure to conform to a radical program or risk being accused of a commonly reiterated trio of thought crimes: sexism, racism and homophobia.”