The Racial Politics of Grammar Correction
The Week—December 1, 2013
A minority student group at the University of California, Los Angeles, is accusing a professor of racism for correcting grammar and punctuation in minority students’ assignments. The group, Students of Color, says ‘the grammar lessons are acts of micro-aggression’ that have created ‘a hostile class climate.’ Professor Val Rust said he was just trying to help students, but conceded they ‘don’t feel that is appropriate.’
I’ve been seeing signs of proper spelling and grammar being politically incorrect all over the Internet for a couple of years now. It’s not really surprising considering the war between liberal and conservative fundamentalists. Political fundamentalists will grab at anything, no matter how graceless or unproductive, to preserve their identity. If I showed this article to the very liberal community here, they would have no choice but to agree that correcting minority students’ grammar truly is hostile and aggressive and inappropriate, because they are the enablers who make claims like this possible.
True believers of either party are parodies of themselves. Blind-faith liberalism must be a gene just like religious zealotry–I don’t think followers can help it. I want to be one too, to lift this shame of not belonging, to fit in, to be able to sleep at night because I’m so damn right. I want to be convinced—but it’s as impossible to have a discussion with a devout liberal as it is asking a Jehovah’s Witness to explain their fervor. I’ve tried.
Last week one of my cleaning customers referred me to her neighbors, two feminist ladies. After my customer gave them my name and number, the two women said: She’s not a Christian, is she? No, my customer said, she’s an atheist. But what if my name were Juanita? Those women wouldn’t have dared ask if I was a Christian, they would’ve assumed and accepted it without a bleat.
In the very liberal LGBT community in this town, huddled together in colorful houses, everyone has intricate metal crosses and Our Lady of Guadalupe artwork all over their walls both inside and out. So, uh, the strong Christian faith of Latin America is what, quaint? Artsy? Adorable? Are the artifacts of the religion 90% of Latinos embrace just trendy, whimsical knickknacks? Doesn’t that seem kind of insulting, as if implying that nonwhite Christians are not smart enough to know any better? Why are they not held to the same intolerance shown to white Christians?
The voices of quietly questioning individuals who despise politics are not welcome here. It’s not enough that I support gay marriage (or, more honestly, whatever), and have been an atheist since I was a tween, the liberals here want all of my devotion. It’s assumed I feel exactly like they do about everything–that’s made clear by the political proclamations they make within the first five minutes of meeting me, without knowing anything about me. It’s my nature to ask questions, but if you dare admit you don’t believe the exact same thing they do, they’ll either shun you or yell at you. Both have happened to me here on numerous occasions, to the point where honestly I’d rather hang out with the rednecks. They’re a lot more fun, especially when drinking and eating carbs.
Is this what ‘belonging’ is all about? The word ‘conservative’ is now an obscenity, and everyone is encouraged to blame them loudly for all that is evil—in conversation (which is kind of joke these days), in TV shows, movies, stand-up comedy, social media (where it’s mandatory for all hip people to pass along link after link to news articles where conservatives have committed some imagined atrocity), and even in dictionary examples (that’s where they use the word in a sentence). It’s the worst thing you can be, and it’s saturated every layer of our society. Strangely though, I don’t know many people here who are raging conservatives, but I know an awful lot of angry liberals. Both are unpleasant and scary and convinced of their superiority.
If I prayed, I would pray for a warrior to rise up out of the ruins of America with brilliant ideas on how to get us working again. Not a Democrat, not a Republican, not someone whose master is a political party. An inventive, wise prodigy who wouldn’t make me feel ashamed of proofreading my work. No chance of that happening, so let the hate mail begin.