“What’s left,” Ravitch asks, “after the language police and the thought police from the left and right have done their work?” Her answer deserves to be quoted at length:
“Stories that have no geographical location. . . . Stories in which all conflicts are insignificant. Stories in which men are fearful and women are brave. Stories in which older people are never ill. Stories in which children are obedient, never disrespectful, never get into dangerous situations, never confront problems that cannot be easily solved. Stories in which blind people and people with physical disabilities need no assistance from anyone because their handicaps are not handicaps. Stories in which fantasy and magic are banned. Stories about the past in which historical accuracy is ignored. Stories about science that leave out any reference to evolution or prehistoric times. Stories in which everyone is happy almost all the time.”
In a word: Fantasyland, a place so wildly disconnected from reality that it makes Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom seem by contrast a painting by Pieter Bruegel or Edvard Munch.
Yardley thinks The Language Police could be the Silent Spring of textbook publishing.