President Bush went to a college campus in Michigan last Saturday to launch a crusade that can only be called intellectual Willie Hortonism -- the use of contrived symbols to scare the wits out of people. As a blatant attempt to make political hay out of the phenomenon called PC ("political correctness"), Bush's speech is better characterized as PS (political shamefulness).
"Political correctness" is the term used by the right wing to mean the forcible suppression of ideas deemed offensive by minorities and women on college campuses. Except for a few isolated incidents, which are bound to occur as long as college campuses exist, the PC phenomenon is a straw man, concocted by the right wing to make it appear that college campuses are being taken over by left-wing bullies.
That is palpable nonsense. No self-respecting academic figure, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, would ever capitulate to the "intolerance of ideas" that Bush attempted to raise. The whole "political correctness" debate is nothing more than a puerile argument between the Lunatic Left and the Lunatic Right.
But since Bush has raised "political correctness" to a presidential level, we ask:
* How does he defend his own shameful attempt, a year ago, to ram through the so-called anti-flag burning measure -- the first constitutional amendment ever proposed by a president to weaken the bedrock of freedom of expression in the United States -- the First Amendment? Was that "politically correct," Mr. President?
* What does he say about the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts being banned as a graduation speaker at his own alma mater because he supports the right of choice in abortion? Is that "politically correct," Mr. President?
* What does he say about the Young Republican Club at the University of Maryland attempting to organize a political lynch-mob to drive a tiny gay-lesbian organization from the campus on the grounds that this group advocated "depravity"? Is that "politically correct," Mr. President?
Until he answers these questions, Bush's speech will stand not against "PC" but rather for "PD" -- that old-fashioned commodity called political demagoguery, more to be expected from the lips of former Sen. Joe McCarthy, Republican of Wisconsin, than from the president of the United States.