I first heard of Political Correctness sometime in the early 1980s. There was a list of politically-correct beliefs – things like women’s rights, gay rights, etc. – in the article about it that I was reading. And they were all things that I already believed in. “How wonderful,” I thought. “I am already Politically Correct, without knowing anything at all about it!”
More recently, I’ve begun to think that it’s not so much the formal content of politically-correct beliefs (I don’t want women made into second class citizens, nor desire to see the return of gay-bashing) that is troublesome about Political Correctness, but the fact that once these beliefs are adopted, nobody is allowed to ever change their mind. Political Correctness is a straitjacket, a prison. And there’s only one right way to think, and you’re not allowed to deviate from it.
Back in the 1980s, the list of Politically Correct beliefs I was reading didn’t include antismoking, or global warming, or even European union. But if they didn’t then, they do now. And if you’re Politically Correct today, your belief system will include these three. And if it doesn’t, then you’ll soon get to hear about it.
Like, for example, Lennart Bengtsson.
Described as “a kindly, mild-mannered Swedish grandfather,” Professor Bengtsson has had a long and distinguished international career in meteorology and climate research. He was head of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg from 1991 to 2000. In 2000 he became a professor at the University of Reading. Since 2008, he has been Director of the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland. He has won numerous awards, is a member of many learned societies, and has over 200 publications to his name.
Two weeks ago, he agreed to join the Academic Advisory Council of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, one of the world’s leading climate-sceptical organizations. He gave his reasons:
In an interview with Speigel Online, Bengtsson spoke of the need for climate-model predictions to be validated against observations. “Since the end of the 20th century, the warming of the Earth has been much weaker than what climate models show,” he said.
Hadn’t the IPCC covered this in its recent report? “Yes,” Bengtsson replied,
the scientific report does this but, at least in my view, not critically enough. It does not bring up the large difference between observational results and model simulations. I have full respect for the scientific work behind the IPCC reports but I do not appreciate the need for consensus. It is important, and I will say essential, that society and the political community is also made aware of areas where consensus does not exist.
And then a couple of days ago, he resigned from GWPF. In his resignation letter, he wrote:
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc.
I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.
Under these situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.
Bengtsson had stepped out of line. He had started to question the global warming orthodoxy. And it could not be tolerated.
We’re seeing exactly the same thing with UKIP right now. All three mainstream UK political parties are politically-correctly aligned. They’re all pro-European. They’re all signed up for global warming. And they’re all antismoking. And UKIP is none of these. And so the knives are out for UKIP, as I was writing yesterday. And a new line of attack emerged today:
The UK Independence Party could lose the European Parliament elections because of a case of mistaken identity on the ballot paper, Nigel Farage has said.
The Ukip leader criticised the Electoral Commission, the elections watchdog, for allowing a similar sounding party on the ballot paper in Thursday’s poll.
The party – “An Independence from Europe” – was “masquerading” as Ukip in a bid to confuse voters and was already taking some of their postal votes.
The debate is over. And you’re not allowed to disagree. If you do, you’ll be shouted down. Or have your career destroyed. Or both.
And if you’re Politically Correct today, it’s probably because you’re frightened of what might happen to you, should you have the temerity to disagree. For Political Correctness is the politics of fear.