IS IT EVEN A CHOICE: Good Grammar Or Social Justice?

by Ed Brodow
ClashDaily Guest Contributor

Here we go again. The gurus of political correctness have struck another blow for doubletalk. American grammar, they say, is racist. At the University of Washington (Tacoma) Writing Center, the people in charge have used “social justice” as an excuse to attack correct grammatical usage. Good grammar, they allege, “may intentionally perpetuate racism or social injustice. We promise to challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations.”

In an attempt to justify bad grammar, the Center goes on to say:

“Linguistic and writing research has shown clearly that there is no inherent ‘standard’ of English. Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.”

The school’s administration is backing them up. “[The statement] is a great example of how we are striving to act against racism,” said the vice chancellor of undergraduate affairs. Mona Chalabi, data editor at The Guardian US, agrees:

“It doesn’t take much to see the power imbalance when it comes to grammar snobbery,” Chalabi says. “Grammar snobs are patronizing, pretentious, and just plain wrong. The people pointing out the mistakes are more likely to be older, wealthier, whiter, or just plain academic than the people they’re treating with condescension. All too often, it’s a way to silence people, and that’s particularly offensive when it’s someone who might already be struggling to speak up.”

Hey Mona—could it be that the grammar snobs are trying to teach something valuable to these kids who need it very badly?

We have seen this reaction before. A professor at UCLA was disciplined for insisting that his students use the Chicago Manual of Style, which is de rigueur for English composition. A sit-in by a group of black students claimed it was offensive and racist. “Asking for better grammar is inflammatory in the school,” said an intimidated UCLA teaching assistant. “You have to give an A or you’re a racist.” In a disgraceful reaction, the school’s administration supported the ridiculous claims of the “offended” students. “UCLA’s response to the sit-ins was a travesty of justice,” wrote author Heather Mac Donald in City Journal. “The school sacrificed the reputation of a beloved and respected professor in order to placate a group of ignorant students making a specious charge of racism.” The outcome, said Mac Donald, guaranteed that the students “will go through life lodging similar complaints against equally phantom racism and expecting a similarly laudatory response.”

This trend on college campuses involves a form of political correctness called microaggression, describing insults, intentional or unintentional, by whites against any socially marginalized or “protected” group—blacks, women, Hispanics, gays, Muslims. The offense does not have to be overt. What counts is the subjective reaction of the offended person. In practice, microaggression is used by minorities as a silencing tactic against free speech by censoring anything they don’t like as “hate speech.” In the Tacoma case, the students apparently were offended by good grammar. This is an effort by minority students to avoid pushing out of their comfort zone. The irony is that without good grammar, they will never be able to get a decent job and so will be stuck in their socioeconomic trap.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby put his finger on the problem:

“They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk: Why you ain’t, where you is, what he drive… Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around.”

Social justice is scary. It means that minorities don’t have to listen to reason because reason—like grammar—is the creation of white people, who are full of crap by virtue of their white privilege. Social justice is opposed to reason. Social justice is opposed to viewpoint diversity. People who demand attention to “diversity” are really against viewpoint diversity, also known as free speech. Diversity means that minorities get control over the system at the expense of the majority, which happens to be white. Unfortunately, as Bill Cosby says, you can’t get control over anything if you haven’t mastered good grammar.

Ultimately it comes down to a question of standards. Should we seek social justice by lowering the standards to the lowest denominator via affirmative action, or should we require the lowest denominator—in this case, minority students—to meet the higher standard. Lowering standards has given us an educational system that is producing substandard results. So why are thousands of university administrators collaborating with the radical students instead of standing up for higher standards? We need more college administrators like Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Dr. Everett Piper, who told students, “This is not a daycare. This is a university!”

Ed Brodow is a negotiation expert, political commentator, and author of In Lies We Trust: How Politicians and the Media Are Deceiving the American Public.

Copyright © 2017 Ed Brodow. All rights reserved.

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