- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2008

The hallowed halls of academia are ivy-covered and perhaps hamstrung with political correctness - some more pronounced than others.

It’s extreme PC that interests the Young America’s Foundation, which is revealing its picks for “The PC Campus: Top 10 Abuses of 2008” Monday.

The roster includes a Claremont, Calif., elementary school that barred students from dressing up like Pilgrims and Indians during a Thanksgiving program to avoid “racial stereotypes.” Then there’s Florida Gulf Coast University, which did away with all Christmas activities in favor of an ugly-holiday-sweater competition. And West Point, the veritable bastion of military tradition, recently hosted Allyson Robinson, a transgendered speaker and one-time graduate of the Army academy.

“It gets worse and worse every year. Academia is a mess these days, because political correctness is running amok. Teachers show allegiance to leftist orthodoxy first, and are responsible educators second,” said Jason Mattera, spokesman for the Herndon-based group.

The list also cites Deerfield High School in Illinois for including graphic gay literature in an English class and officials at the College of Alameda in California, which threatened a student with expulsion after she prayed for her ailing professor while on school property, deeming the act “insulting behavior.”

It’s enough to make people “laugh and cry in the same breath,” Mr. Mattera said.

“The problem with multicultural education is that rhetoric, skin color and other factors get more attention than real ideas. The classics, Western civilization and literature are trumped by such things as sexual and racial identity,” he continued.

“Young people are short on knowledge of American history, or the Constitution. But they can tell you all about feminist tribal activity overseas,” Mr. Mattera added.

YAF also listed the University of California at Berkeley for tolerating “environmental radicals” on campus, Columbia University for banning the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps, and Yuba College for disciplining a student who had distributed Christian literature.

The College of St. Catherine in Minnesota made the list for banning conservative activist Bay Buchanan as a campus speaker, the University of St. Thomas for censoring pro-life speaker Star Parker while showcasing liberal comedian-turned-Senate candidate Al Franken and Debra Davis, another transgendered activist.

“This is a just a publicity stunt, a way for an organization to promote itself. They’re pushing cultural buttons at the expense of marginalized people. They claim it’s about free speech, but they’re distressed that certain people are being asked to speak on campuses. That’s intellectually and ideologically inconsistent,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, an activist group in the District.

“Political correctness is about being aware of diversity and being sensitive about including people. And that’s it,” Ms. Keisling said.

Political correctness has garnered a little academic treatment, meanwhile. British Broadcasting Corp. newsman Edward Stourton has written “It’s a PC World,” a book that traces the phenomenon from “its 1980s roots in U.S. campuses” to its effect on the British monarchy, journalists and the general population, for better or worse.

Political correctness is “a sort of ideological Christmas tree to hang things on that make us feel awkward,” Mr. Stourton said Friday at a British literary forum. “For some people, it’s a powerful weapon, but for others these days it’s an oppressive principle.”

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