It might look like a golden age for free speech: more than a billion tweets, Facebook posts and blogs every day. But beneath this surface, freedom of expression is dramatically retreating.
Students at the City University of London, home to one of Britain's most respected schools of journalism, voted to ban three newspapers from its campus: The Sun, Daily Mail and Express. Their "crime", according to the approved motion, is to have published stories against migrants, "Islamophobic" articles, and "scapegoating the working classes that they so proudly claim to represent." City University, supposedly a place dedicated to openness and questioning, became the first Western educational institution to vote for censorship, and ban "right wing newspapers."
The filmmaker David Cronenberg called this self-censorship, after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo: "a weird, serpentine political correctness." It is one of the most lethal ideological poisons of the 21st century. It is not only closed-minded and ridiculous, it makes us blind to the radical Islam that is undermining our mental and cultural defenses.
The countless attacks by Muslim extremists testify that the multicultural world to which we have been led is a fiction. Political correctness simply encourages the Islamists to raise the stakes to win the war they are advancing. The resulting tension has been fed by the Western elites with their sense of guilt for "colonialism" in the Third World.
"ISIS Threaten Sylvania" -- an art exhibition featuring cute little stuffed animals picnicking on a lawn, and unaware of other cute little stuffed animal terrorists carrying assault rifles on a knoll just behind them -- is the work of the artist known as Mimsy (she hides her identity). The protagonists of this series of light box tableaux are a family of stuffed animal dolls that inhabits an enchanted valley. Gunmen, dressed like the Islamic State henchmen, strike the innocent inhabitants of the valley, at school and on the beach, at a picnic or in a gay pride parade. It looks like an updated version of Maus by Art Spiegelman, a graphic novel depicting Nazi cats and Jewish mice during the Holocaust.
Those wishing to see this artistic panel at the Mall Galleries, in London, will now have to console themselves with the work of Jamie McCartney, "The Great Wall Vagina," nine meters of female genitalia, less important and less provocative.
The brave work of Mimsy, after the British police defined it "inflammatory," has been eliminated from the program of this London cultural event. Its organizers informed the gallery owners that if they wanted to put it on display, they would have to shell out £36,000 ($46,000) to "secure the venue" for the six days of the exhibition.
Under this politically correct dictatorship, Western culture has established two principles. First, freedom of speech can be restricted any time someone claims that an opinion is an "insult." Second, there is a vicious double standard: minorities, especially Muslims, can freely say whatever they want against Jews and Christians.
And so it came to pass that the most famous Spanish football team, Real Madrid, removed the cross from its crest after a commercial deal with Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi. The Christian symbol was quickly ditched to please the Islamic Gulf sponsors.
Perhaps soon the West will be soon asked to change the flag of the European Union -- twelve yellow stars on a blue background -- because it contains a Christian message in code. Arsène Heitz, who designed it in 1955, was inspired by the Christian iconography of the Virgin Mary with a crown and twelve stars on her head: what a heartless "Western Christian supremacist" message!
Political correctness is also having a huge impact on big business: Kellogg's withdrew advertising from Breitbart for being "not aligned with our values" and Lego dropped advertising with Daily Mail, to mention just two recent cases.
It should not cause alarm if companies want to decide where to advertise their products, but it is very alarming when it happens due to "ideology." We have never read about companies abandoning a newspaper or website because it was too liberal or "leftist." If the Arab-Islamic regimes were follow these views, why should they not ask their companies to stop advertising in Western newspapers that publish articles critical of Islam, or which publish pictures of half-naked women?
Libraries on US campuses are now putting "trigger warnings" on works of literature: students are advised, for example, that Ovid's sublime Metamorphosis "justifies" rape. Stanford University even managed to exclude Dante, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare and other giants of Western culture from the academic curricula in 1988: supposedly many of their masterpieces are "racist, sexist, reactionary, repressive." This is the vocabulary of Western surrender before totalitarian Islamic fundamentalism.
France has removed great figures, such as Charlemagne, Henry IV, Louis XIV and Napoleon, from schools, to replace them, for instance, with studying the history of Mali and other African kingdoms. At school, children are taught that Westerners are Crusaders, colonizers and "bad." In purportedly justifying the repudiation of France and its Judeo-Christian culture, schools have fertilized the soil in which Islamic extremism develops and flourishes unimpeded.
It is a question of priorities: no one can deny that France is under Islamist siege. Last week, France's intelligence service discovered another terror plot. But what is the priority of the Socialist government? Restricting freedom of expression for pro-life "militants." The Wall Street Journal called it "France's War on Anti-Abortion Speech." France already has one of the most permissive and liberal bodies of legislation on abortion. But political correctness makes one blind and ideological. "In four and a half years, the Socialists have reduced our freedom of expression and attacked public freedoms," commented Riposte Laïque.
In the US, academia is rapidly closing its doors to any debate. At Yale, professors and students these days are very busy with a new cultural emergency: "renaming." They are changing the name of buildings to erase all traces of slavery and colonialism -- a revisionism out of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
Everywhere in the US and in the UK, an air of hostility is spreading against opinions and ideas that could cause even a hint of distress in students. The result is the rise of what a writer such as Bret Easton Ellis called "Generation Wuss".
The jihadists surely grin at this Western political correctness, since the result of this ideology will be the abolition of the Western critical spirit and a surreal reeducation of the masses through the annihilation of our history and a hatred of our truly liberal past.
Bristol University in the UK just came under fire for attempting to "no-platform" Roger Scruton for his views on same-gender marriage. Meanwhile, British universities are giving a platform to radical Islamic preachers. In the politically correct universe, conservative thinkers are more dangerous than ISIS supporters. London's former mayor, Boris Johnson, called this dystopia "the Boko Haram of political correctness."
Students and faculty at the Rutgers University in New Jersey cancelled a speech by former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Students and professors at Scripps College in California protested the presence of another former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who, according to the protesters, is a "war criminal."
A New York University professor, Michael Rectenwald, who attacked political correctness and the coddling of students, was recently booted from the classroom after his colleagues complained about his "incivility". The liberal studies professor was forced to go on paid leave. "It's an alarming curtailment of free expression to the point where you can't even pretend to be something without authorities coming down on you in the universities," Rectenwald told the New York Post.
There is no better ally of Islamic extremism than this sanctimony of liberal censorship: both, in fact, want to suppress any criticism of Islam, as well as any proud defense of the Western Enlightenment or Judeo-Christian culture.
Censorship is happening not only in the liberal enclaves on the coasts of the United States, but also in France. The Eagles of Death Metal -- the American band that was performing at Paris' Bataclan Theater when ISIS terrorists murdered 89 people there on November 13, 2015 -- were banned by two music festivals: Rock en Seine and Cabaret Vert. The reason? Jesse Hughes, the band's frontman, gave a very politically incorrect interview:
"Did your French gun control stop a single f*cking person from dying? I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I've ever seen charging head-first into the face of death with their firearms. I think the only way that my mind has been changed is that maybe until nobody has guns everybody has to have them. Because I've never seen anyone that's ever had one dead, and I want everyone to have access to them, and I saw people die that maybe could have lived, I don't know."
After the jihadist massacre at Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub, Facebook enforced the pro-Islamic injunction and banned a page of the magazine Gaystream, after it had published an article critical of Islam in the wake of the bloodbath. Gaystream's director, David Berger, had heavily criticized the director of the Gay Museum in Cologne, Birgit Bosold, who had told German media that gays should be more frightened of white bigoted men than of Islamic extremists.
Jim Hoft, a gay journalist who is the creator of the popular Gateway Pundit blog, was suspended from YouTube. Twitter, one of the vehicles of this new intolerance, suspended the account of Milo Yiannopoulos, a prominent gay critic of Islamic fundamentalism -- but probably not the accounts of Islamic fundamentalists who criticize gays. Twitter even formed a "Trust and Safety Council." It brings to mind Saudi Arabia's "Council for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice." Could it be an inspiration for the liberal mullahs?
Yes, it might have looked like a golden age for free speech. But under this dictatorship of political correctness, the only "win-win" is for political Islam.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.