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The Media

February 2010

Unhappy is the land

by James Bowman

On the deleterious effects of political correctness on public policy.

Two thousand ten marks the twentieth anniversary of the entry of the term “political correctness”—in its contemporary, “multiculturalist” sense—into the popular vocabulary. There is a splendid irony to the fact that this dubious boon to the language should have been conferred upon it by Newsweek, now a self-conscious pioneer of what it hopes will be a new, politically correct form of journalism, in a sensational cover story to its issue of December 24, 1990. The old, un-PC Newsweek, which raised in this connection the specter of an Orwellian “Thought Police” and “a new McCarthyism” of the left, was drawing on an article by Richard Bernstein (“The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct”) that had run in the old, less-PC New York Times a couple of months previously—which itself d ...

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James Bowman is the author of Honor: A History (Encounter Books).

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 28 February 2010, on page 57

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