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The Ornery Observer
January 4, 2012

Politically-Incorrect Fruit
by Paul Gottfried

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ELIZABETHTOWN, PA — Even in this progressive age, religious uncertainties still abound as we approach Holy Season, which begins with St. Martin’s Day on January 16 and extends throughout Black History Month. This was made dramatically clear last week at a college near where I live, a place that has demoted the ancient Christian holiday that falls on December 25 and the weeks leading up to it as “holiday season.”

Meanwhile the institution is making every effort to commemorate MLK’s trials and martyrdom. Considering his stature, the customary one-day celebration was deemed inadequate, so they are preparing for a weeklong celebration of their twentieth-century savior. The sacred week will be devoted to recounting America’s racist past, what remains to be done to overcome that past, and most importantly, the question of whether King’s pronouncements can help advance gay and transvestite agendas.

When asked to submit lecture proposals, only one faculty member bothered to respond, but since this wiseacre had the temerity to question King’s spiritual purity, he was immediately turned down. Still, there’s no reason to suspect that other faculty members were equally irreverent. One retired professor wrote to his colleagues that the proposed celebration did not dwell sufficiently on Southern wickedness. He also said the college was not doing enough to exalt King, given what this truly heroic figure had done to raise us out of our bigotry.

The college community was peacefully and reverentially preparing for January 16 until someone expressed an idea that befouled the worshipers as if a garbage truck’s contents had been dumped on their heads. This disruption is equivalent to the controversy over Christ’s divinity that wracked the early Christian world. The person who set it off belonged to the college’s venerable Center for Global Citizenship and was helping to plan an international dinner to be served for foreign students on the academic liturgical calendar’s holiest day. In his childlike simplicity he suggested including a large fleshy-centered fruit called “w————-----n.”

Rather thoughtlessly, the committee was planning a festive menu without beseeching the approval of their religious superior — the black female Director of Diversity. Had they acted through the designated chain of authority, the ensuing controversy would not likely have arisen. The lower clergy would have known it was acting in a way that ran contrary to the teachings of the Church of Political Correctness, whose highest campus official is the diversity-directing minority lady. Similar grave oversights may have led to Christendom’s split in the sixteenth century, if one may be allowed to compare the present moment of high sensitivity to outdated religious superstitions.

The Director of Diversity issued a pronouncement emphatically prohibiting her flock from serving w----————n on the Feast of St. Martin. The prelate explained that w————----n is a “symbol of oppression to all black people,” thus it would be racist to serve at a college event. To their credit, those associated with Global Citizenship immediately withdrew their menu suggestion and have acted contritely ever since. But what sort of benighted being wouldn’t recognize the gravity of this offense on their own? They had ignored repeated warnings that a prohibition would be coming. For months the Director had lamented the fact that the forbidden fruit was being served on campus. But others chose to ignore these cries of despair.

Still, it would be nice if the college’s highest ecclesiastical official spoke conclusively about how far the prohibition extends. This lady has been all too taciturn in engaging a question of deep moral and ritual significance. A clergyman who is still vaguely associated with the now-vanquished Christian religion has appealed to the Office of Diversity for further clarification. Are we about to see a political scandal erupt if the fruit were to appear again on campus? The college’s future may involve a local Watermelongate.

Will students still be permitted to eat w————----n in the dining hall? What about their dorm rooms and while snacking between classes? Perhaps there will be differing degrees of prohibition, depending on whether or not one is pursuing the path to PC perfection. Students might be allowed to munch on the fruit in private, but for those seeking absolute sensitivity, it will be necessary to practice total abstinence.

I have picked a middle path. Since I am hopelessly addicted to the fruit of sin and buy it even during the winter when it has to be imported from Chile, I could not give up eating it. But I can show verbal restraint by not mentioning the word designating that green thing with the red juicy pulp in the middle. That’s the least I can do to exhibit solidarity with those true believers.

There are other repercussions to be feared. Fights may soon be breaking out in the dining hall if the dreaded red stuff shows up in a fruit salad and students are unclear about how to address such a grave situation. Should they throw the pollutant into the garbage can, or are they supposed to burn the red, pulpy matter lest they contaminate themselves with a “racist” substance?

What does a fastidious practitioner of PC do if some of the contaminant gets on his/her shoes while he/she’s walking near a supermarket? Is he/she required to destroy the shoes lest they become polluted by contact with racism? What should I do if I accidentally blurt out the horrible word at a fruit counter? Is there some penance I’ll have to peform, such as reciting the “I Have a Dream” speech fourteen times or attending the College Diversity Committee’s monthly meeting? Those of us who are not fully sensitized beg for instruction.

The Ornery Observer archives

Copyright © 2011, by Paul Gottfried. Reprinted with permission. This column first appeared at Taki's online magazine, TakiMag.com, on December 31, 2011.

Paul Gottfried, Ph.D., is the Raffensperger professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.
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