Political Correctness

I’ve never quite gotten the hang of this “political correctness” meme. I’ve not been able to distinguish “polite” from “politically correct.”

Larry Summers, president of Harvard’s, gotten with the program though. Noting that women aren’t found in assorted roles, like in the ruling class at Harvard, he opines that maybe they lack some innate skills. Which reminds me of the the just so story that women are fundamentally more child like because, well, it makes them better able to relate to the children their raising. So much for the powerful in the halls of academia.

Bill Thomas head of ways and means for the US Congress has gotten with the program. He floats the idea that mabye should segregate the old birds into a special class when it comes retirement benefits. So much for those with political power.

And while this one doesn’t rise to the level of the first two Paul Krugman likens a large number of American voters to a naive girlish bride swept off her feet by a mendacious older man. So even the powerful in the fourth estate don’t quite get it any more.

So that’s it! I’ve been confused. I thought “politically correct” was a substitute for “polite” but nope, it’s a mnemonic for stupid, evidence free instal-theories, stereotype and naive metaphors used to reenforce oppression by those in positions of extreme power and their apologists. The point is that powerful people need to be much more careful about speaking outside their areas of expertise; and since there is zero credible evidence for most of the fanciful theories about this or that class being somehow better or worse they should be particularly careful in when it comes to playing with that fire.

Larry Summers’ “apologized,” not for the stupid groundless unfounded statement but for the “any adverse impact.” That’s outrageous. First it indicates that he’s not admitted that he’s clueless in this domain. Expertise in economics, his field, is not expertise in all the social sciences. That’s such a basic part of academic good practice that it make you wonder. Secondly Larry Summers is not just some random academic. Larry Summers is a professionally power broker. He knows how to use the power of his position, his voice, his authority and his reputation. That apology reads like the artillery captain apologize for “any adverse impact.” He knew exactly what he was doing. It was not correct, it was wrong.

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