Paris, Mai 26 2014
Coming back from a ride in the US where, as often, I did not have time to blog, I feel like writing down my thoughts before they are gone.
After the ride in North Carolina and Virginia, I spent a wonderful and insightful week with a francophile friend of ours, Bob (aka Bébert), who works as a librarian at the Winston Salem (NC) University business school. We spent hours exchanging our views on both our countries, as it is always new and refreshing to hear a foreigner commenting on your own country and seeing things that you do not see since they seem so natural to yourself.
During this last stay in the US , I was struck by the expansion of the “PC” (politicaly correct) terminology and signs on the campuses I visited (Winston Salem and UNC in Chapel Hill):the idea is to avoid offending a group of people or reinforcing stereotypes. I saw pictures of students displaying a sign like “I am good at math and it is not because I am Asian”, “I am good in in sports and it is not because I am black”, ” I am good at cooking and it is not because I am a woman”… It never came to my mind to think that a guy is good at math because he is Asian, and I wondered if this nice but slightly pervert effort to prevent sterotyping would not reinforce it. The change in words is funny, if not oppressive: not only black people are now called “African Americans”, and handicaped are “physically challenged”, but women claiming to have been raped are “survivors” (gee, to me there were only Holocaust survivors and Cancer survivors ). Needless to say I don’t want to enter the political discussion about PC ideology ( conservatives in the US blame it for being a liberal oppression), but the idea that there are somewhere some boards of who knows who that dictate the words that can be used in the mainstream language gives me goose bumps. There are lots of small Ayatollahs everywhere, left or right, and I got from my tour of two universities in NC the impression that these guys are pretty active.