Letters to the Editor

"Paranoid" Failures

Mary Elizabeth Perry, September 1993

Jerry Z. Muller ("Challenging Political Correctness: A 'Paranoid Hysteric' Replies to Joan Scott," May/June 1993) demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of those who sneer at "political correctness." With this label Muller execrates any attempt to examine critically the old privileged canon, shouting in outrage that things will never be the same.

Muller's broadside attack on Scott and the AHA Council is full of noisy bombast, but fails to provide any illumination whatsoever. In his fury at an enemy concocted within his own imagination, he so distorts Scott's arguments that they are unrecognizable, and he converts the AHA Council and Nominating Committee into villainous "new hegemons" intent upon carrying out "a political cleansing."

He assails in Scott: "conceptual froth," a "rhetoric" that functions "to close off discussion of the substantive issues at hand," and a "style" that seeks "to delegitimate its opponents rather than debate with them." In contrast to Scott's thoughtful essay, Muller's outburst utterly fails to contribute to the discussion.

Mary Elizabeth Perry
President
Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession