A look back at the “political correctness” hysteria of the early 90s really reveals so much about what these recurring rightwing moral panics are all about, and why we need to look past whatever the reactionary outrage du jour is and focus on the underlying political conflict.
I tried to get into that in this thread here, outlining that what these debates are actually about is power, status, and respect (who gets / deserves it, and who doesn’t).
I specifically made the comparison to the “pc” crusade of the early 90s, trying to situate the current “wokeism” and “CRT” moral panics within that longer-term context. Calling something “pc” was an attempt to discredit the claims of traditionally marginalized groups for respect.
This, by @whstancil, is spot on: At its core, the anti-“CRT” crusade is the latest iteration of the conservative / elite struggle to stave off and discredit certain long-term political, social, and cultural developments and changes that they perceive as threatening.
With all these outrage crusades, wasting energy by trying to intercept every bad-faith claim rightwingers fire off is counterproductive. We need to focus instead on the underlying political conflict and the politics of White / elite grievance the crusaders are pursuing.

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More from @tzimmer_history

8 Nov
From the reactions we’ve witnessed since the VA election, it’s clear that there are a lot of White folks out there who consider themselves Democrats/Liberals and are all too willing to go along with scapegoating and demonizing Black intellectuals if it promises electoral success.
I want to reflect in detail on a reaction that I have personally gotten to the tweet below. I believe it is emblematic of a widespread - and rapidly spreading - attitude among White Liberals and seems to be quickly gaining the upper hand (again) within the Democratic Party.
Here is the reply I would like to dissect. It is from someone with a fairly big Twitter following, someone I’m sure won’t be happy about being called out (I have purposefully blacked out all individual information as I want neither abuse nor attention coming their way).
Read 26 tweets
7 Nov
This is what a free speech crisis on campus actually looks like: A Black scholar being targeted by a coordinated online harassment campaign because of his immensely important work and public voice, and @Stanford just standing by. @hakeemjefferson deserves so much better.
Allow me to add something personal: I received some pretty disturbing online abuse this week - someone fantasizing about “silencing” me, and someone else gleefully suggesting “the Khashoggi method.” Stuff of that quality is rare for me - but it certainly is draining.
I’m only mentioning it because I know the abuse I’m getting is absolutely nothing, either in kind or in quantity, compared to what others who are not shielded by the fact that they are white men have to deal with on a regular basis, just because they insist on not being silenced.
Read 6 tweets
6 Nov
Aren’t we all glad that all these concerned parents are standing up to these mean Critical Race Theorists and their Un-American liberal enablers who want to taint and destroy that beautiful history.
In case anyone thinks this type of “history” is passé: At a reception at the German Historical Institute in DC in November 2018, a middle-aged man from Virginia explained to me that slavery couldn’t have been so bad, seeing that people d always take care of their property.
Read 5 tweets
5 Nov
Excellent dissection of the way rightwing panics work and why it’s difficult to counter them effectively. I suggest we need to focus not on refuting specific claims, which never works with bad-faith actors, but on highlighting the reactionary political project behind them.
Instead of playing defense by trying to intercept every accusation rightwingers fire off (No, that’s not what CRT is! No, it’s not actually taught at school!), what does shifting the focus to analyzing these rightwing moral panics as political projects look like?
It means, first of all, we should focus on the people behind this reactionary crusade, and the forces associated with this project - starting with the rightwing activist who has been loudly and proudly telling the world for months why and how he got the CRT panic going.
Read 13 tweets
4 Nov
Even leaving aside the fact that this is asking the Democratic Party to adopt the Right’s campaign of turning a famous Black intellectual into an “Un-American” bogeyman: Is there *any* evidence from the recent past that this this type of appeasement would actually work? Image
Because there certainly is *a ton of evidence* that rightwing propaganda campaigns are entirely unaffected by whatever Democrats actually do or say. Yes, it’s slightly harder to demonize Biden, but that’s because he’s an old White man, not because of anything he’s saying.
And again, I want to emphasize this one more time: “Let’s join the Right in demonizing and scapegoating certain Black intellectuals” is a position that people who consider themselves “progressives” or “on the Left” really shouldn’t legitimize as “savvy advice.”
Read 4 tweets
1 Nov
This is indeed exactly what they are referring to: A bunch of unsubstantiated claims, all driven by ideologically motivated fear of what *might* be, with zero evidence presented and absolutely no interest in the empirical reality of what actually *is* happening in the classroom.
History teachers at all levels: “This is absolutely not what is going on inside the classroom.”

David Brooks: “But I heard from people [Republican operatives and conservative activists] that they *sense* it *might be* and I’m totally sticking with that!”

Just bizarre.
It’s the same pattern over and over again. And not once will the “moderates” propagating these false stories as evidence of leftwing “illiberalism” conclude that they might want to be more cautious the next time they encounter some dubious cancel culture anecdote. Not once.
Read 9 tweets

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