Charlton Heston: “Political Correctness is Tyranny with Manners”


While doing some research for an article on the Ten Commandments display in Oklahoma, I came across the following comments in a Wikipedia article on Charlton Heston (1923-2008) who starred in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments.

They were prescient. Unlike so many Republicans today, Heston wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He told it like it was and didn’t care about the possible consequences.

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In a 1997 speech called Fighting the Culture War in America, Heston rhetorically deplored a culture war he said was being conducted by a generation of media people, educators, entertainers, and politicians against:

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…the God fearing, law-abiding, Caucasian, middle-class Protestant – or even worse, evangelical Christian, Midwestern or Southern – or even worse, rural, apparently straight – or even worse, admitted heterosexuals, gun-owning – or even worse, NRA-card-carrying, average working stiff – or even worse, male working stiff – because, not only don’t you count, you are a down-right obstacle to social progress. Your voice deserves a lower decibel level, your opinion is less enlightened, your media access is insignificant; and frankly, mister, you need to wake up, wise up, and learn a little something from your new America; and until you do, would you mind shutting up?

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He went on to say:

The Constitution was handed down to guide us by a bunch of wise old dead white guys who invented our country! Now some flinch when I say that. Why! It’s true-they were white guys! So were most of the guys that died in Lincoln’s name opposing slavery in the 1860s. So why should I be ashamed of white guys? Why is “Hispanic Pride” or “Black Pride” a good thing, while “White Pride” conjures shaven heads and white hoods? Why was the Million Man March on Washington celebrated by many as progress, while the Promise Keepers March on Washington was greeted with suspicion and ridicule? I’ll tell you why: Cultural warfare!

In an address to students at Harvard Law School entitled Winning the Cultural War, Heston said, “If Americans believed in political correctness, we’d still be King George’s boys – subjects bound to the British crown.”

Heston with President Ronald Reagan during a meeting for the Presidential Task Force on the Arts and Humanities in the White House Cabinet Room, 1981

He said to the students:

You are the best and the brightest. You, here in this fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River. You are the cream. But I submit that you and your counterparts across the land are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that and abide it, you are, by your grandfathers’ standards, cowards.

During a speech at Brandeis University, he stated “Political correctness is tyranny with manners.” In a speech to the National Press Club in 1997, Heston said, “Now, I doubt any of you would prefer a rolled up newspaper as a weapon against a dictator or a criminal intruder.”

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