Officials at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA) canceled a proposed attraction featured a kimono after protesters deemed it a ” latter-day form of racist minstrelsy.” The event, entitled “Kimono Wednesdays”, invited visitors to try-on a museum-owned kimono and pose for a picture in front of Claude Monet’s painting “La Japonaise”, featured the artist’s wife wearing a kimono. One protester held a sign reading, “Try on the kimono, learn what it’s like to be a racist imperialist !!!today!!!”
In response to the protests, the MFA proposed a “scaled-back” version of the attraction in which visitors could interact with the kimonos, but not try them on. Apparently, it was not enough to satisfy those who found it offense, as nearly a dozen protesters gathered to hand out flyers and speak to the crowd (at the request of security guards, the protesters did not hand out their flyers).
Kimonos were introduced in Japan from a Chinese-style as early as the 5th Century AD. The kimono remained a popular style in Japan until the Meiji Restoration, resulting in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868. Emperor Meiji, having witnessed the technological advancement of Western powers when American Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Japan in command of numerous warships, sought to end the Tokugawa Shogunate’s isolationist policies, kicking off a civil war; upon coming to power, Emperor Meiji opened Japan to formal trade with the West. Ultimately, the kimono was replaced with traditional Western attire as the most popular clothes for everyday wear in Japan.
The incident at the MFA is just one example of political correctness running rampant in the United States.
– In May, 2015, the Morgan Hill, California Unified School District sent home several students who wore shirts with the American flag on Cinco de Mayo; the administrators claimed they acted to prevent an outbreak of violence between white and Mexican-American students. The Supreme Court rejected a free-speech appeal from the parents of several of the students sent home in a decision that Los Angeles-based lawyer William Becker said, “opens the door for a school to suppress any viewpoints that are opposed by a band of vocal and violent bullies.”
– In April, 2014, the Alpha Phi sorority and Phi Delta Alpha fraternity at Dartmouth Collegecanceled a proposed “Phiesta” fundraising event after several students voiced concerns about the party’s “possible cultural insensitivity.” One student wrote, “As a Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color, it was sadly unsurprising that a culturally-themed party was seen as a casual venture for such a privileged institution such as Dartmouth.”;
– In July, 2014, a blogger for a private English Language Learning Center in Provo, Utah was fired after writing a blog describing “homophones” (words that sound the same, but have different spellings and meanings); the blogger claims he was let go after his boss informed him the word homophone was too closely linked to “homosexual”;
– In April 2013, Washington Governor Jay Insleesigned into law a bill to rewrite state laws using “gender neutral” vocabulary; the word “penmanship” was replaced by “handwriting”, while “fisherman” was replaced by “fisher”;
– In August 2013, government workers in Seattlewere advised that the terms “citizen” and “brown bag” were potentially offensive and could no longer be used in official documents or discussions;
– Also in August 2013, a rodeo clown in Missouriwas banned for life after dressing up as President Obama, and the Missouri State Fair implemented mandatory “sensitivity training” for its remaining clowns;
In his novel “1984”, George Orwell envisioned a totalitarian society where freedom of speech and thought were greatly restricted. The fictional totalitarian state Oceania created its own language, called Newspeak, to limit freedom of thought and restrict concepts that would pose a threat to the regime; concepts such as freedom, individuality and self-expression. Any type of thought or expression outside the ruling party’s norms were considered a “thoughtcrime”.
It is frighteningly clear that the United States has moved away from a free and open society to one more akin to George Orwell’s supposedly fictional Oceania, where people are punished for, or made to feel guilty about, their supposed bigoted thoughts. We are becoming a society so afraid of offending each other that most choose to remove themselves from almost all societal interactions with the hope they will not be labeled a bigot; however, we are all being taught to view ourselves as internally racist, sexist, homophobic, etc – “thoughtcrimes”.