Thought reform in America

Political correctness has attained a level of institutional power today in the United States that it can justifiably be compared with the totalitarian brainwashing efforts seen in Mao Tse-tung’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (also known as "fundamental transformation"). The salient social  mechanisms shared by the two efforts at thought reform are pubic shame and self-criticism.

Consider the case of Louis Graham, editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the city’s venerable daily newspaper. He had the temerity to publish an accurate headline. Jazz Shaw explains at Hot Air: (hat tip: Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit)

…a newspaper found themselves having to issue an apology for publishing a headline which included a direct quote from the killer. (Fox News)

A newspaper in Memphis quickly apologize after protestors complained about its choice of headline in the wake of the deadly police shooting in Dallas.

“Gunman targeted whites,” read the lead story headline in the Commercial Appeal, a member of the USA Today network. The headline was accurate, as Dallas gunman Micah Xavier Johnson explicitly talked about wanted to kill white police officers before he was eliminated via robot bomb.

That didn’t stop protestors from gathering outside the paper’s office in downtown Memphis on Wednesday to express their displeasure, some holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter.”

Commercial Appeal editor Louis Graham quickly apologized after meeting with the protestors, and wrote an editorial titled, “We got it wrong.”

In that editorial, Graham issued what can only be called self-criticism. The errant true-but-unacceptable headline:

badly oversimplified a very complex, rapidly evolving story, and angered many of our readers and many more in the broader community.

Decades ago, when China first opened up, I met a prominent Chinese scientist finally able to travel to the USA, who had been denounced, tortured, and imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution for his crimes of having a PhD from an American university and being dedicated to scientific truth instead of political doctrine.  I will never forget the broken man talking about he had been made to confess his crimes in front of a howling mob.

Things have not come to this point in the US, I realize, But the mechanism of self-criticism is the same. By affirming something that is known to be untrue, the subject loses control of his own will, surrendering something of the soul.

So when editor Graham writes,

Too few people looked at the front page before it rolled off our presses. We've taken steps to correct that. But the larger challenge is recruiting a diverse enough staff to better reflect the city we cover. We continue to work on that and will be more introspective about how we do our jobs.

He is surrendering to the Party Line, and conforming to the Party’s will with his work.

Clarice Feldman cited some relevant commentary a couple of weeks ago:

 Theodore Dalrymple, the penname of a British psychiatrist, explained how communist societies work and it fits the Clinton tactics of blatantly lying about their conduct and enmeshing others to become complicit in their evil.

"In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.