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Opinion
Ramesh Ponnuru

Who's to Blame for PC Culture

Federal education rules are chilling free speech on campus.
Thanks, Obama.

Thanks, Obama.

Photographer: Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images News

Is political correctness on campus a real problem? Tellingly, it is less often defended than it is minimized. In the 1990s, it was sometimes dismissed as a conservative "myth." In recent months -- with students demanding resignations, apologies and various other concessions from their administrators over perceived slights -- liberals have bent over backward to insist that PC culture isn't "the real issue." When the journalist Jonathan Chait wrote an essay criticizing progressives who want to silence those who disagree with them, he was called "a sad white man" and told that political correctness doesn't exist.

One very influential liberal, however, is on Chait's side. In a recent interview, President Barack Obama said that "hearing the other side" was important for progressive activists at colleges. The alternative, he warned, was a "recipe for dogmatism." He made similar remarks at a town hall meeting in September: "I don't agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view."