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Jan. 19, 2015

Pork Chops and PC

Progressivism's downward spiral has been considerably accelerated by Oxford University Press.

Progressivism’s downward spiral has been considerably accelerated by Oxford University Press (OUP). In a move that garnered heartily deserved ridicule, OUP warned their writers to avoid making any references to pork, pigs and sausages, lest it “offend” Jews and Muslims.

The guidelines became public during a discussion about free speech on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” following the Paris atrocities. “I’ve got a letter here that was sent out by OUP to an author doing something for young people,” said program presenter Jim Naughtie. “Among the things prohibited in the text that was commissioned by OUP was the following: Pigs plus sausages, or anything else which could be perceived as pork.” He concluded, “Now, if a respectable publisher, tied to an academic institution, is saying you’ve got to write a book in which you cannot mention pigs because some people might be offended, it’s just ludicrous. It is just a joke.”

OUP tried to defend the move, saying, “Many of the educational materials we publish in the UK are sold in more than 150 countries, and as such they need to consider a range of cultural differences and sensitivities. Our editorial guidelines are intended to help ensure that the resources that we produce can be disseminated to the widest possible audience.”

One is left to wonder which particular countries have a reputation of pig or pork hatred that runs so deep, the mere mention of the word is likely to spawn anger, or perhaps violence. Furthermore, taking OUP’s ban literally, as it were, is a far more extensive project than one might imagine. According to Thesaurus.com, there are 10 synonyms for pig, seven for bacon and nine for sausage. Additionally, there are 29 synonyms for pork-related products.

What about the notion that barring these forbidden words is intended to keep Muslims and Jews from going over the edge? Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim and Labor Party member of Parliament, characterized the guidelines as “absolute utter nonsense.” He added, “[W]hen people go too far, that brings the whole discussion into disrepute.”

OUP didn’t fare much better on the Jewish side of the equation. “Jewish law prohibits eating pork, not the mention of the word or the animal from which it derives,” a spokesman for the Jewish Leadership Council said.

So what’s really going on here? Self-censorship. It’s not self-censorship driven by concerns for cultural “sensitivities,” but by the same kind of abject cowardice that drove our ostensible paragons of free expression in the media to pixilate or censor the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that ostensibly precipitated the slaughter of 17 people in Paris. The same cowardice that elicited statements about the limits of free speech if it “offends” someone, even as that is precisely the kind of free expression most in need of defending.

Those reading between the lines know what these guidelines are really all about: fear of radical Islam. And nothing makes that more obvious than OUP’s attempt to include Jews among those who would take offense. Their inclusion by OUP is a classic straw-man gambit designed to deflect attention away from their real concern – head-chopping radical Islamic thugs who have apparently intimidated the world’s largest university press.

The fraud becomes even more apparent when one discovers there is an OUP India, a subsidiary in a nation with a large Hindu population – one that considers the cow a sacred representation of all other animals. Why no ban of the word “cow” and “anything that could be perceived” as beef?

The answer is simple. Hindus, along with believers in all the world’s other major religions, embrace the concept of societal pluralism – with one glaring exception: Islam. For the overwhelming majority of Muslims, it’s Sharia law, a concept totally at odds with secular government, or nothing. And while many Muslims embrace secular government and the pluralism it guarantees, they are considered every bit the infidel – and just as expendable – as anyone else who resists the radical Islamists’ determination to impose religious totalitarianism on the entire world.

By any means necessary.

Thus it is no coincidence that OUP’s warning emerged following the Paris carnage. And while they drape their reticence in a patina of sensitivity, their actions bring to mind a quote by Winston Churchill: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Sadly, OUP is not the only publishing giant that has attempted to kowtow to Islamist sensibilities. Until they were shamed into a reversal, HarperCollins Publishers, one of the world’s leading English-language publishers, omitted Israel from English-language atlases sold to schools in the Middle East. Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary that produced them, explained that Israel’s inclusion was “unacceptable” to its customers in the Gulf and that the change incorporated “local preferences.”

Local preferences utterly at odds with reality.

Americans should be clear about the progressive ideology that drives such calculated groveling. It is the despicable notion that we can “win the hearts and minds” of those who would annihilate us if we simply learn to be more “attuned” to their totalitarian worldview. For the Left, that adjustment requires an acknowledgement the Islamist worldview is not only legitimate, but that their animus toward Western culture was wholly engendered by Western culture itself. Hence the more familiar “why do they hate us” cluelessness that drives leftists in search of something, anything, that will make us more likable. And if that means eliminating words from books and countries from maps, so be it.

All one has to do is substitute the words “Nazi Germany” for “radical Islam” and the utter folly of such an approach becomes clear. Progressivism and political correctness are headed for the ash heap of history because outbursts of “high-minded” cowardice following orchestrated atrocity isn’t likely to win converts to the cause. That and the fact that no one wants to die, simply to satisfy progressive sensibilities.

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