Now—The Age of Expression Suppression!
Imagine this scene. You walk into a popular trendy bar. It is not at all dark inside, but well lit. There is no loud music. It is actually very quiet. There are many customers, yet no one is talking. You begin to feel somewhat strange when you notice that everyone is reading a book. Of course, your mind races with questions. What is going on here? Reading a book in a bar? You can’t avoid staring. A closer look reveals that not everyone is reading the same book. Taking in the whole scene you notice that some people are exchanging notes, others are texting on cell phones. This is not an exercise to develop your imagination. It is a snapshot of reality.
There is a growing trend in America in 2017. It is called silent reading parties. “When you walk into a bar full of people silently on their cell phones, no one thinks anything of it,” stated Guinevere de la Mare, founder of the San Francisco-based Silent Book Club, to Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, writer for Poets & Writers magazine. “But when you walk into a bar full of people silently reading books? Now that’s an arresting image.” I would have to agree, or maybe go further and say “strange image.” Now, in case you are thinking: “What do you expect? It’s California!” This isn’t just a California thing. Silent Book Clubs have been established in Brooklyn, New York; Evansville, Indiana; Portland, Oregon; and Spokane, Washington to name a few cities. Silent reading parties are also growing in popularity internationally. Actually, silent reading parties aren’t even new, they began about eight years ago.
Here’s how the parties work. “A group of friends and strangers meet at a bar or library or private home once a month and read together. They don’t read the same book. They can come and go as they please. They’re not even expected to discuss what they are reading. All they do is read, in a shared space together, as a community,” De la Mare explained to McFadyen-Ketchum. Some attending may pass notes, text or share a paragraph they love from their reading. Some may even chuckle or laugh out loud. But there is no organized program or time allotted for discussion. You may wonder, what is the purpose? “It is a community-driven movement to get people out in public and switch out their phones for a book,” explained De la Mere.
“The beauty of the parties is that they’re so easy,” stated another party organizer to Mr. McFadyen-Ketchum. “People interested in starting a reading party somewhere call me for advice. Nothing actually happens at the series, I tell them.”
It is only reasonable to ask: Why would an activity where nothing happens become so popular? It just seems very unusual.
Seriously, we should all be in favor of getting people off their electronic devices and into books. It is important for people to get together and bond as a community. However, it is reasonable to ask, why silent book clubs? Why not discussion book clubs? Human conversation, lively discussion, even debate and disagreement, are the building blocks of community! Yet, a growing majority of people are less likely—even fearful—to discuss personal ideas, thoughts or opinions. What is happening? There has to be a cause for this effect.
College Campuses: Halls of Isolation
The root cause of this tendency is found on the majority of America’s elite colleges and universities, such as Harvard, Princeton, Williams and Yale. William Deresiewicz, former professor at Yale and now a contributing writer for the Nation and contributing editor for New Republic and the American Scholar, discussed this shift in Americans and other people in our Western World in an article titled “On Political Correctness” in the Spring 2017 issue of the American Scholar. In this article, he described how the driving force behind political correctness has negatively affected bright and creative minds of college and university students. When I read this article I immediately thought of the silent book clubs. Our colleges and universities are now silent campuses—well almost.
“I recently spent a semester at Scripps, a selective women’s college in Southern California,” wrote Mr. Deresiewicz. “I had one student, from a Chinese-American family, who informed me that the first thing she learned when she got to college was to keep quiet about her Christian faith and her non-feminist views about marriage.” He chronicles similar complaints from a list of students. “I had another student, a self-described ‘strong feminist,’ who told me that she tends to keep quiet about everything, because she never knows when she might say something you’re not supposed to.” Deresiewicz also discussed the frustrations of an adjunct professor who was careful “to avoid saying anything, or teaching anything, that might conceivably lead to trouble.”
In a similar vein, Deresiewicz also discussed what he learned about the guardians of correctness—also commonly known as the PC police. “I also heard that the director of the writing center, a specialist in disability studies, was informing people that they couldn’t use expressions like ‘that’s a crazy idea’ because they stigmatize the mentally ill,” he wrote. Deresiewicz discussed a situation he had with another writing director over a student who, because of religious reasons, felt obligated to not participate in class discussion over sexually explicit literature. He was sympathetic to the student—the writing director was not. “I was naive enough to think that the director would be sympathetic to the student’s situation,” he wrote. “Instead, she snorted with contempt.” He shows that guardians of correctness are not only school officials. Some students gladly carry PC police badges. “I heard a young woman tell me that she had been criticized by a fellow student for wearing moccasins—an act of cultural appropriation.”
Deresiewicz has frequently toured and spoken on college campuses throughout the United States. Here is his conclusion: “Above all, I heard my students tell me that while they generally identified with the sentiments and norms that travel under the name of political correctness, they thought it had simply gone too far—way too far. Everybody felt oppressed, as they put it, by the ‘PC police’—everybody, that is except for those whom everybody else regarded as members of the PC Police.”
William Deresiewicz believes that similar situations exist, to some degree or another, across the board in U.S. colleges and universities. But where it is bad, it is generally very bad. It is not a stretch to believe the same scenario is happening in top college-prep U.S. high schools. In discussing this issue with some of my own college students, they told me that they have felt the same kind of oppression in high schools that they attended—not being able to freely express beliefs, ideas or opinions.
Some students attending Scripps were so fearful to speak freely among their peers that they told Deresiewicz “they were grateful for YikYak [no longer available], the social media app, because it allowed them to say anonymously what they couldn’t say in their own name.” Deresiewicz firmly believes this is what is taking place on college campuses all over our Western world.
This is radically different from what was taking place when I went to college. When I attended the University of Pittsburgh in the ’70s, we were encouraged to freely express our ideas, opinions and beliefs. If people didn’t agree, we were encouraged to debate and defend our ideas. And if proven wrong, we accepted that fact and moved on to the next discussion. At that time, this was considered the hallmark of a liberal arts education. Our 21st-century colleges are not the same.
Here’s a question for you: Are you afraid to speak your mind openly in public or even in private?
I recently had the opportunity to visit with some old friends whom I hadn’t seen in a while. In simple discussions related to current news, politics and social issues, I could tell they were not comfortable revealing their true thoughts. At one point, they even spoke up and said they didn’t want to talk about an issue I had thrown out on the table. I remind you, this was simple, friendly conversation. What a dramatic change from previous visits. I felt like I lost some good friends. Has political correctness affected you this way?
How do you understand political correctness? Here is how William Deresiewicz defines its new and virulent form: “By political correctness, I do not mean the term as it has come to be employed on the right—that is, the expectation of adherence to the norms of basic decency, like refraining from derogatory epithets. I mean its older intramural denotation: the persistent attempt to suppress the expression of unwelcome beliefs and ideas.” Good social breeding naturally tells us to not to make derogatory comments or racial slurs. Yet today’s political correct has morphed into a wicked process of thought control. In his famous dystopian novel 1984, George Orwell accurately predicted what is taking place today. Big Brother is definitely watching us and trying to regulate even our thoughts.
New College ‘Dogma’
Studying this problem carefully, William Deresiewicz has come to a unique understanding. He believes America’s select private colleges and universities have developed into “religious” schools. Yet the religion is not Catholicism, Lutheranism or Methodism “but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority of faculty and administrators who work at them.”
Here is what he means. A vast majority of college students entering some of the best schools are slowly and stealthily being indoctrinated into a system of beliefs—a faith—not about a god, but rather how to be successful in a liberal-left dominated world.
According to Deresiewicz, the majority of our secular, higher-education institutions “possess a dogma, unwritten but understood by all: a set of ‘correct’ opinions and beliefs, or at best, a narrow range within which disagreement is permitted,” wrote Deresiewicz. “There is a right way to think and a right way to talk, and also a right set of things to talk about.”
What are those “right” things college students are to think about? Here’s the list according to Mr. Deresiewicz: “Secularism is taken for granted. Environmentalism is a sacred cause. Issues of identity—principally the holy trinity of race, gender and sexuality—occupy the center of concern. The presiding presence is Michel Foucault [French philosopher who died in 1984], with his theories of power, discourse and the social construction of the self, who plays the same role on the left as Marx once did.” Remember, this dogma is unwritten. Parents cannot find any course description about such dogma in a college handbook—yet the powerful, mind-altering course exists.
Where does this leave a student who is highly inquisitive about many different subjects? “The fundamental questions that a college education ought to raise—questions of individual and collective virtue, of what it means to be a good person and a good community—are understood to have been settled,” wrote Deresiewicz. This a chilling statement. “The assumption, on elite college campuses, is that we are already in full possession of the moral truth,” he continued. “This is a religious attitude. It is certainly not a scholarly or intellectual attitude.”
Amazingly, few if any college students see the need to “go against the flow” of liberal-left indoctrination. Mr. Deresiewicz explained why he thinks this is happening and why it is a problem. “Dogma, and the enforcement of dogma, makes for ideological consensus,” he wrote. “Students seldom disagree with one another anymore in class, I’ve been told about school after school. The reason, at least at Whitman [College], said one of the students I talked to there, is mainly that they really don’t have any disagreements. Added another that when they take up an issue in class, it isn’t let’s talk about issue X, but rather, let’s talk about why such and such position is the correct one to have on issue X.”
The majority of the elite schools in operation today would consider themselves diverse in their education. Deresiewicz disagrees. “But of course, Scripps and its ilk are only diverse in terms of identity. In terms of ideology, they are all but homogeneous. You don’t have ‘different voices’ on campus, as these institutions like to boast; you have different bodies, speaking with the same voice.” This overpowering trend in modern education no longer encourages students to explore and develop fresh ideas, new ways of doing things, or to look into opposing points of view.
Silence of the Heretics
The freedom to express and challenge different points of view, to have an honest exchange of disagreement, or to debate has all but vanished from a majority of classrooms in high schools, colleges and universities. “That, by the way, is why liberal students (and liberals in general) are so bad at defending their own positions. They never have to, so they never learn to,” stated Deresiewicz.
This deep-thinking and sharply observant former Yale professor clearly shows us the root of the development of the silent book club. Living suppressed for four years in undergraduate studies—or six to eight years if doing graduate work—can indoctrinate a student to go along with the norm and say nothing about anything. When you consider the numbers of college students who have attended these colleges and universities over the last decade, it is not hard to see why Americans are becoming more silent about beliefs, ideas and opinions.
So, reading in a group setting and not saying anything—since it could potentially be viewed as wrong—is what a large number of young people have been educated to do.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying it is wrong to attend a silent book club—I actually love sitting quietly in a beautiful library setting reading a book. Generally, there are other wonderful people doing the same thing. But that doesn’t make us a community. Neither do silent book clubs.
What I see is a dangerous return to ideological, mental and even political censorship. Since there is an unwritten liberal-left dogma promoted on the best college campuses, what happens to the nonbelievers? There have to be some students who don’t follow the doctrine. How are they looked upon? “Unlike the campus protesters of the 1960s, today’s student activists are not expressing countercultural views,” wrote Mr. Deresiewicz. “They are expressing the exact views of the culture in which they find themselves (a reason that administrators prove so ready to accede to their demands). If you want to find the counterculture on today’s elite college campuses, you need to look for the conservative students.” The nonbelievers of the liberal-left dogma are considered to be members of the counterculture.
Even more, they’re branded heretics! “Which brings us to another thing that comes with dogma: heresy,” wrote Deresiewicz. “Heresy means those beliefs that undermine the orthodox consensus, so it must be eradicated: by education, by reeducation—if necessary, by censorship. It makes a perfect dreary sense that there are speech codes, or the desire for speech codes, at selective private colleges.” This means that any student who does not accept the commonly believed positions on secularism, environmentalism, issues of identity, such as race, gender and sexuality, or the radical ideas of Michel Foucault are socially doomed!
According to the guardians of the doctrine, these students must be educated, reeducated or censored. How? “[T]he most effective form of censorship, of course, is self-censorship—which, in the intimate environment of a residential college, young adults are very quick to learn,” wrote Deresiewicz. Students who attend an elite college in New York told Deresiewicz “that any challenge to the hegemony of identity politics will get you branded as a racist (as in, ‘Don’t talk to that guy, he is a racist’).” Students on some of today’s best college campuses are being silenced. Faculty, administrators and students of the dogma do not want to hear opposing beliefs, or ideas. So, these students are keeping their mouths shut.
Deresiewicz and other concerned faculty spread across the colleges see a real danger on college campuses. However, it is not the conservative students they worry most about. (Conservative students have the reputation of not caring what other students or faculty think about their ideas and beliefs.) They are concerned for the indoctrinated.
“[T]he reason to listen to people who disagree with you is not so you can learn to refute them. The reason is that you may be wrong,” wrote Deresiewicz. “In fact, you are wrong: about some things and probably about a lot of things. There is zero percent chance that any of us is 100 percent correct. That, in turn, is why freedom of expression includes the right to hear as well as speak, and why disinviting campus speakers abridges the speech rights of students as well as the speakers themselves.” This is a statement we should think about deeply. Mr. Deresiewicz exposed the greatest weakness in elite leftist thinking: They refuse to hear opinions, ideas or beliefs that could show them that they are wrong!
It’s Here—a Famine of Truth
Americans must face the reality that a majority of our journalists and news reporters have been trained at the elite colleges and universities, which are sophisticated at indoctrinating young minds to the left’s mind-numbing dogma. The students who have been fully converted to the cause have been hired into the best mass media jobs in town. This means that our top newspapers, nightly news and news special reports are and will continue to be dispensation outlets for the left’s extremely powerful dogma indoctrination campaign. We are all targets. It is only the toughminded, thinking readers and watchers, those willing to investigate the evidence, who will not be taken captive.
In September 2016, Gallup reported that American’s trust in mass media had sunk to a new low. Only 32 percent of Americans said they had “a great deal” or “a fair amount of trust” in the media. This is actually a good thing. But the mass media and the left elites point their finger at conservatives, the Republicans and, should we forget, the current president as the cause of the mistrust. Many Americans suspect that they are being lied to. Those Americans who follow the evidence to the truth know that we are being lied to. However, they are given no platform to speak the truth—they are silenced. The truth on climate change, gender identity, the nuclear family and racial tension has been erased and replaced by lies that are bringing down nations, economies and stable families.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables,” wrote the Apostle Paul to his assistant Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3). The time of which he was prophesying is here. While Paul is talking for the most part spiritually, the application for secular society is a perfect fit. This is a precise description of what the left and its version of political correctness is bringing about in America, Britain, Israel and across our Western society.
Yet there is hope; you do not have to succumb to insidious indoctrination and the deceitful news broadcast from today’s mass media. You need not starve for the truth. This website offers you a steady stream of articles, booklets, radio and tv programs, and other informative videos to keep you current with the truth about the major problems and trends happening in our world. You will not find us to be afraid to speak out on vital issues. We are not silent. However, when we speak the truth, we speak it with genuine concern, soberness and love (Ephesians 4:15). Our website and all of our literature is provided to you at no cost or obligation.