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There should be no surprise that former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers was found among the street demonstrators in Chicago who succeeded in shutting down Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign rally this week.

What is going on?

The Donald can be polarizing — sometimes inviting raucous response. But the real problem that gave rise to Trump is intolerance and the soft tyranny of humorless political correctness that envelopes culture in America. Slowly, but with accelerating pace in the Obama years, the soul of America has been silenced by political correctness.

And the nation is weaker and more divided than ever.

It’s time to connect the dots on the growing intolerance on the political left in America. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reported in 2012 that at more than 400 of America’s largest and most prestigious colleges and universities, 62 percent percent enforce policies that restrict a substantial amount of speech. What is typically banned is speech that “feels offensive” or “demeaning” toward groups and causes deemed politically correct.

Speech codes chill freedom of expression and the competition of ideas. Worse, they produce coddled, weak-minded, and intolerant graduates — ill-equipped for employment and citizenship in the marketplace diversity of viewpoints that is the real world.

Political correctness has been working its way into government, too.

Even after two different court rulings halted EPA actions on emissions, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch picked up the P.C. mantle and recently began exploring, in conjunction with the FBI, the possibility of prosecuting so-called “climate change deniers.”

But political correctness has deadly consequences.

The 2013 Islamist Boston Marathon bombers had high-risk profiles known by law enforcement intelligence and could have been stopped, but for political correctness. The December 2015 ISIS-inspired San Bernardino massacre might also have been prevented. A neighbor of the Islamist terrorist couple Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook revealed that in the weeks before the terrorist killing spree, there had been a flurry of activity at their home — with a multitude of package deliveries and individuals coming and going at all hours. Yet that neighbor chose not to alert the police for fear of being labeled racist or Islamophobic.

Political correctness seems to put lives in danger. The irony is that it took an unconventional presidential candidate, Donald Trump, to break the P.C. glass ceiling.

If the left’s political correctness is further exposed, Republicans are likely to broaden their party’s base, widen its majority, gain influence in the culture, and be more successful in foreign policy.

Scott Powell is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.

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