Economics Professor William Anderson of Frostburg State University in Maryland has written a powerful condemnation of the forces of political correctness in the context of his review of Professor KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor's book 'Until Proven Innocent', the damning tale of the Duke Lacrosse Hoax, wherein a rogue prosecutor, a lying accuser, several Durham Police Department officers, 88 Duke professors, most of the Duke University Administration and the majority of the local and national media attempted to frame three innocent students for a crime that never occurred.
Professor Anderson believes that for many of the people who worked so hard to convict the three innocent students were motivated by political correctness, which emphasizes a True Path, whether or not the facts fit. As he writes,
Face it, those who did the most to spread the lies really did not care whether or not three Duke lacrosse players raped Crystal Gail Mangum in the bathroom of the house at 610 Buchanan Boulevard. As Newsweek’s Evan Thomas put it, "The narrative was correct, but the facts were wrong."
Professor Anderson has been kind enough to allow me to quote his remarks in full on political correctness and how it influenced the Duke Case. His comments are as follows:
Johnson and Taylor are political liberals, and people who tend to believe in reform. They are rightly shocked by the lies of the police and prosecutors, the dishonesty of Duke’s administration, the rush-to-judgment coverage of the mainstream media, and the indecent and pathetic performance of a large portion of Duke’s radical faculty. However, as liberals, they tend to believe that such actions can be corrected or at least diverted through political and legal reform. In other words, while they observed at ground level an incredible amount of cynicism, they themselves still tend to keep their reformist nature.
However, I see what happened as something fundamental in modern higher education and the law. Political Correctness is not simply something dreamed up by "liberal wackos" (as Taylor likes to call them), but rather is something that has permeated all of higher education, law, and politics. The modern PC regime is fundamentally opposed to a classical liberal way of life. It is hostile to free exchange in a marketplace, free speech and free exchange of ideas, and everything in Western law that has developed since the Middle Ages.
Indeed, it is totalitarian in nature, and it cannot co-exist with a legal and social order that is Liberal in nature. It makes all of life subject to political thinking, and political thinking based upon raw power. We saw all of that on tap in this prosecution. There was no evidence, only accusations that came from a drug-addicted, mentally-ill prostitute who constantly changed the fundamental nature of her stories, and who could offer nothing in evidence except her ever-changing words. There was nothing believable about what Crystal Gail Mangum told the police, yet the original lies ultimately metastasized into what was known as the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.
That did not happen simply because police and prosecutors chose to lie. It happened because Political Correctness does not demand truth. Indeed, PC thought is the antithesis of truth, and the PC True Believer will tell anyone who will listen that truth is what one creates in order to achieve political outcomes. Face it, those who did the most to spread the lies really did not care whether or not three Duke lacrosse players raped Crystal Gail Mangum in the bathroom of the house at 610 Buchanan Boulevard. As Newsweek’s Evan Thomas put it, "The narrative was correct, but the facts were wrong." Indeed, that is a most cynical statement, and since Thomas was one of those journalists who worked overtime to tell the world that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans were three vicious rapists, his words tell more than even he would understand.
The Duke Lacrosse Case was a front on yet another battlefield in a war between a liberal order that emphasizes the rights and responsibilities of the individual and recognizes that the state is an entity that must be both feared and controlled and an order in which the overpowering state is everything, and that political power is something to be worshipped and sought after. In this battle, the "good guys" won, but only because some well-placed and influential people recognized that the thing called "truth" really does matter. It was and is a satisfying victory, but it is only one small victory against some very, very dark forces.
And this is unfortunately too true. P.C. is a pernicious system, one that muzzles the light of honest debate by pretending that feelings (especially those of certain designated victim groups) are more important than reaching truth. Truth can indeed hurt, but only free debate and the acknowledgment of truth can ultimates free us from the effects of political correctness.
Hat tip to John in Carolina and my gratitude to Professor Anderson for allowing me to re-post his remarks in their entirety.