Losing Our Voice

, Ben Giles, Leave a comment

Dr. Victor Hanson thinks enough is enough. Throw political correctness out the door and speak your mind.

It is, after all, our basic Constitutional right.

“Right now, at this time, there is a collective mood in the West that is self-censoring, is not self-reflective, and it has had a deleterious effect on free expression,” said Hanson. “And while we have a history of state coercion of the individual, the problem right now is not in the stars, so to speak—it is within ourselves. And we have to ask why this is happening.”

Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, spoke June 3 at the Heritage Foundation of a post September 11, 2001 America that is far too concerned with being perceived as an overbearing Western power when dealing with beliefs and rhetoric contrary to its own.

Hanson narrows the cause of this change to three crucial post-modern ideologies: multiculturalism, utopian pacifism, and moral equivalence. To Hanson, the people who promote these mindsets are given more credit than they deserve.

“Once one adopts a cosmic view of the brotherhood of man or the egalitarianism of the individual, that provides all sorts of advantages to that person that holds those views,” said Hanson. “They don’t have to worry about intricacies…their motives are never questioned.”

He added: “None of us are sure what we can say or should say and it’s not being questioned because the people who are doing this have such unimpeachable motives.”

Hanson argued that this line of thought has misled the U.S. during the Iraq war and ongoing military involvement in the Middle East. He attributes utopian pacifism as the reason for the U.S. government’s concerns about what the enemy thinks and feels. Their sensitivity only lengthens the war and strengthens the enemy, Hanson said.

“War cannot be refined,” said Hanson. “It’s a horrible dirty business that should be gotten over as quickly as possible.”

Hanson alluded to the Iraq Resolution, a list of 23 rites that Congress gave President Bush authorizing him to go to war. Of those rites, only one has proven false: weapons of mass destruction.

“WMD may have changed and may have been a mistake, but the other 20 something haven’t changed,” said Hanson. “If the administration had just said ‘we’re going go to war because the Senate, in their infinite wisdom, has outlined a case for war that’s overwhelming and predicated on these 23 principles,’ then when one principle misled them, they wouldn’t have been in the jam they’ve been in. They would have had legitimacy.”

Hanson argued that Americans abandoned the ideals and principles that led them to war in favor of these three false ideologies. He also blames President Bush for allowing the sole focus of the cause of war to shift to WMDs.

“It’s fallen on deaf ears,” said Hanson. “WMD became the narrative, and you win or lose by that narrative.”

He argued that an overly respectful view of corrupt beliefs and practices is hurting basic rights to free speech. In the Middle East, that means judging other countries on different terms than Americans judge themselves.

“Multiculturalism has forbidden people collectively in the West from exercising independent judgment,” said Hanson.

Hanson also argued that the multicultural mindset does not limit itself to other people and countries outside the U.S. There are just as many people and beliefs to be outraged with in America as there are overseas.

One such instance was Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s recent speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which Hanson summarized as a claim that people learn differently due to racially differing genetics. Hanson remarked he was shocked when no one spoke against the ridiculous speech. In fact, the audience responded to Wright’s remarks with a standing ovation.

Hanson argued that people should feel free to speak out against Wright’s offensive rhetoric, yet no one does.

“I think this doctrine [of multiculturalism] suggested that Reverend Wright was going to be judged by a different standard,” said Hanson.

According to Hanson, Western powers are crippling themselves by letting others speak their minds and not responding simply because it would be rude to disagree. That standard is one which argues “that there is no right or wrong,” he said.

Hanson also mentioned Gabriel Range’s fictional documentary Death of a President and Nicholson Baker’s novel Checkpoint,
both of which tell stories of the assassination of President Bush, as examples of highly offensive material that, for fear of offending anyone, were never criticized.

“To the morally equivalent thinker, everything is of equal value,” said Hanson. “We give no deference to context.”

To Hanson, the arguments break down to the link between security and freedom. When concerns for our national security arise, can the U.S. maintain the basic principles of a free-thinking society?

“I keep hearing that the constitution is being shredded, but when anyone is pressed to find absolute proof of that, even meager proof of that, it’s very hard for the individual.”

Ben Giles is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.