Thursday, January 19, 2012

Political Correctness and Witch Doctors

I rail against political correctness in general a lot, and also against its linguistic forms, where clear old terms like "bum" are replaced by neutral, even attractive terms like "homeless." This twisted concept is central to politics, of course, which often has the purpose of persuading us not to believe our eyes, but other things instead.  And this is often done by warping the language, as Orwell warned us some time back.  And politically correct euphemisms have a way of deteriorating.  When people caught on to what "Marxism" really entailed, Marxists started calling themselves "socialists."  That got a bad reputation, so they turned into "progressives," and when that wore down, they pulled a real linguistic coup by swiping the word "liberal," which a century go meant about what "libertarian" means now, and walking around with that label until everybody caught on to that one, too, and now they've largely gone back to "progressive."

But this sort of linguistic deterioration takes place outside the customary political sphere as well.  I admit I hadn't thought about it, but of course it's invaded other fields, like anthropology.  Yes, there is still an actual science called anthropology, though most of what goes on under that name isn't a science at all.  But I was recently made aware of the fact that you don't say "witch doctor" any more, but "traditional healer" instead, even if the usual practice of the traditional healer is to kill people by cursing them.  I just read a blog post by Henry Harpending about a witch doctor.  He reminds us that our traditional picture of witch doctor is actually a lot more accurate than the current PC notion, and that some quite intelligent Third Worlders still believe in witches and witch doctors, and carry that belief with them when they come to live next door.  And, he doesn't say, but I'll add, that is exactly the sort of thing we import when we take in immigrants from the wrong places.

But read his post HERE and think about it.

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