It was while watching the absurdly predictable fallout from the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson – the 6-foot-5-inch “teddy bear” – that I recalled where I was when I first heard the term “politically correct.”
It was, of course, in Madison, Wisconsin, the site of the Robinson shooting. I was visiting a friend there about 25 years ago. I remember because I wrote an essay about the experience that served as the title for my 1991 book of essays, “Snake-Handling in Mid-America.”
As I noted at the time, the University of Wisconsin in Madison had recently prohibited “expressive behavior directed at individuals and intended to demean,” thus effectively banning all humor.
My host, a reasonably sane liberal, joked that the zeitgeist of the whole town was “politically correct,” a new phrase to me but a nicely descriptive one. I soon got to see the phenomenon in action when I made a positive comment in passing about an Eddie Murphy movie.
My host’s college-age daughter, I wrote at the time, “shot me a withering look and informed me tersely that Eddie Murphy was a known ‘homophobe.'”
I sensed even then that if a popular black man was expected to wear the scarlet H for homophobia in Madison, the progressive tent could never be big enough to house all of its peevish sub-cults.
Imagine, for instance, the dust-up coming when the enemies of sexism and homophobia and the friends of Islam try to hammer out a multicultural Ten Commandments. Heads just might roll. Literally.
Madison is in store for a dust-up of its own. No local act of PC atonement will quiet the perverse national furor stirred by the phony racial narratives out of Ferguson and Sanford, Florida. All such efforts, in fact, will only leave the mob demanding more.
But what if the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association convinced CNN that “Madison, Wisconsin, is not Ferguson, Missouri,” and that city cops have a strong relationship with the people they serve. No matter. That relationship will not withstand the pressure the grievance industry can bring to bear any better than Ferguson’s did.
But what if Madison Police Chief Mike Koval rushed to the mother of the “victim,” Andrea Irwin, and apologized before the autopsy results were in or the officer’s testimony was contested. No matter. Irwin was not inclined to hear. Her son – like Trayvon and Michael Brown – “has never been a violent person.” The police shot him, as they always do, for “for no reason.”
But what if Koval really groveled? What if he said, “We need to start as any healing or any reconciliation should with an ‘I’m sorry,’ and I’ve done that privately, and I’m attempting to do that publicly and that’s the only way we can sort of begin the healing or the rift that may take years, if at all, to mend.” No matter. The Madison left interpreted groveling for weakness.
But what if Robinson was at least half-white? What if he was raised by his white mother and grandparents? No matter. It is the left that now endorses the “one-drop” rule. Robinson is as black as Obama, and that is black enough.
What if his black father played so little role in the son’s life it took days for the media to find him let alone resurrect him for the “optics” of a reunited Trayvon-style grieving couple? No matter. In a culture like Madison’s, people really believe the PC nonsense that “one kind of family is as good as another.”
But what if the citizens of Madison discovered that just last year Robinson was one of five thugs who invaded a home and got caught on the way out with a BB-gun pistol, a TV and an Xbox 360?
No matter. Judge Josann Reynolds sentenced Robinson to three years’ probation, which, by Madison standards, seemed just about right for an armed home invasion by a young black man.
But, you ask, what if the shooter, Officer Matt Kenney, was proudly photographed carrying a wedding cake to help a colleague celebrate her same-sex union? And what if the photo – tagged, “the cops brought the cake” – went viral and made Kenney something of a momentary celebrity in progressive circles? No matter. At crunch time, there is no black in the rainbow.
Bottom line: It does not matter what anyone says. The die is cast. The protesters have gotten their script, and they are sticking to it, truth, as always, be damned.
“I think the fact he was black did lead to an unfair shooting,” a 19-year-old student told the Associated Press. “If he would have been white, he wouldn’t have been shot. Period.”
No, in the real world, if Robinson had been “white,” he would likely have been in prison for the home invasion, but he had the misfortune of growing up in the decidedly unreal Madison.
And yet even Madison has its real spots. Officer Kenney discovered one in Robinson’s apartment. There, he came face to face with a not-so-gentle giant who had just terrorized the neighborhood and was unleashing his own personal reign of terror on Kenney.
It was then that Kenney realized, as Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman realized before him, that political correctness has no hold when your life is on the line.
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