- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 3, 2004

Along with the newest Louis Vuitton bag or Manolo Blahnik shoes, the catchword “offended” seems to be on every fashionable person’s list of things to have. What I have learned in my 15 years of education is you’re not hip or cool unless you have been personally offended. Newspapers, magazines and television are full of stories and advertisements trying to sell the consumer the next brand of behavior or wording branded with “offensive” — no longer “girl” but “womOn” (yes, it is supposed to be spelled like that to avoid the dreaded “men”).

Schools and corporate America have picked up on the trend and decided to buy big in offended stock. No other English word can strike fear into the minds of administrators and executives like a derivative of “to offend.” Anything and everything is done to avoid labels like “racist,” “bigot,” “homophobe” and the list grows exponentially day by day.

As a college student, I have witnessed firsthand academia’s dedication to avoiding these scarlet letters at all costs. In history and political science courses, students are not educated as they have been for the past two centuries. Instead, my friends and I have been assaulted with diatribes against all Founding Fathers for their “racist” and “patriarchal” behavior.

Since our professors are equal opportunity revisionists, the warped historical accounts do not stop with the Founders. We were taught not a single leader until John F. Kennedy worked to advance nonwhite males in America. Even Franklin Rooosevelt is not exempt from higher academia’s searing revisionist eyes.

In English classes, we are taught of the “brilliance” of Allen Ginsberg, and how Jack Kerouac is to be commended for his courage for being a conscientious objector during World War II. But these men are not portrayed accurately. Little if anything is made Ginsberg’s poetry advocating a promiscuous homosexual lifestyle and prolific drug use, or that Kerouac spent years of his life meandering around the country without a job or purpose. Do professors expect to be applauded for picking out such bizarre role models for college students?

This plague of political correctness has taken hold in corporate America as well. From past employees, it was found the Walt Disney Corp. has a massive PC binder given to all new hires. This book lists the ins and outs of every politically correct motion, speech and gesture one could ever hope to know.

This Bible of the Politically Correct directs employees to point with two fingers instead of the usual one because some cultures see one finger as offensive. For all you vacationers, Disney World has now moved from Orlando, Fla., and into its own stratosphere in hopes of becoming the most politically correct place on Earth.

Fortune 500 corporations across America hold varying “diversity” initiatives including Hispanic Heritage celebrations where employees sample ethnic foods and participate in traditional dances in the corporations’ downtown skyscrapers.

These showcases of ultimate PC groveling are held during the workweek and during working hours. When did it become the responsibility of the businesses to make sure their employees know the flamenco and how to make an enchilada?

Even though I’m just a student, I can see this current atmosphere of hypersensitiveness is changing the American landscape, and not for the better. This trend must have caught hold somewhere between Enron and Arthur Anderson and that is why the general public has not been outraged.

If such programs had been proposed even five years ago, when I was in high school, the proponents would have been told to go back to their jobs and do some real work.

This dedication to PC comes with some nasty side affects. In colleges and universities across America, differing viewpoints from students and professors are quelled because their opinion might “offend” someone. A challenge to the newest conventional wisdom risks being termed racist, bigot or, if you happen to be a professor, being fired. I’ve seen this even at the University of Alabama where I study.

In the wake of the scandalous behavior by some of America’s top companies, corporate accountability has become a rallying point for everyone — everywhere on the political spectrum.

By taking hours out of the workweek and squandering thousands of hard-earned dollars on these nonsense PC programs, accountability has again taken a back seat to irresponsible time and money management.

Instead, employees could use advice on stock investing, portfolio management and personal finance. This would be a more appropriate response to the fraudulent actions that cost thousands their life savings than a zesty new recipe.

While equal opportunity is essential and should be promoted, corporate America and American colleges and universities should be more concerned with the diversification of their assets and viewpoints than their applicants.

RACHEL PARKER

Ms. Parker is a research assistant at the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

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