One of the biggest mistakes the left makes, in my opinion, is letting the right define terms like “political correctness.”
Yes, political correctness is one of our biggest problems.
No, it isn’t about using words like “n***ger,” putting down someone’s race, ethnicity, sex or religion. Just like Nazis calling Jews “vermin,” that kind of usage is about personal responsibility: something the right claims to want from everyone. “Wants” from everyone but themselves, apparently. “Wants” from everyone but themselves, apparently. Instead of “political correctness” it’s about how we should treat each other, how we shouldn’t vilify vast groups, like Muslims, and demonize all of them in politically conveniently abusive ways. In the mildest cases it’s all about common decency, and not bringing conversations down to nothing more than back and forth, personal, insults. In the worst cases it’s called attempting to encourage others to commit murder on a massive scale.
Problem is Trump, and much of the right, don’t want an end to political correctness. They want to have exclusive rights to political correctness.
We are responsible for what we say to each other. Generally what we say can’t be banned, or made illegal to say, but that freedom doesn’t mean you are immune to criticism for saying it. That would be you are demanding political correctness from those who might criticize you.
And, yes, there are limits to what you can say. I can’t tell you to murder someone during a bank heist and only you get prosecuted for that murder.
To go further into political correctness… as kids many folks knew about the playground bully who, when brought to account for his actions, blames someone else, makes wild accusations. It’s called trying to punish those one victimizes because, otherwise, their very existence makes it obvious how badly they’re being treated, or to distract someone who catches the bully bullying.
Which, of course, brings us back to he who kept claiming political correctness was the biggest problem America has faced, but demands it from others when it serves his purpose. Everyone must agree any news that doesn’t please him must be serves him “fake news.” He, and his appointees, have the “right” to only take questions from those who please him.
Some of these are classic neo-con tactics used since at least GWB’s presidential days. And Trump serves these goals well through distract, distract and, um, “distract.”
Telling someone they were wrong to brag about grabbing women isn’t an example of political correctness; it’s pointing out the obvious: bragging about assault is wrong.
Telling people it’s wrong, it’s racist, to compare blacks to monkeys as the right did so often during the last president’s term isn’t “political correctness,” anymore than telling people it’s wrong to compare Jews to vermin.
Telling someone who has claimed he’s getting all kinds of evidence the president was born in Kenya, isn’t a citizen, that what they’re doing is wrong isn’t “political correctness.” Until proven otherwise it’s exposing slander and an outright lie.
Telling people all Muslims (or immigrants) are dangerous, possible terrorists, likely to behead anyone, fly planes into buildings, has nothing to do with political correctness, no more than objecting to those who liken all Christians to witch burners, Jimmy Jones or he who would walk into Unitarian, or black, churches and murder parishioners.
True political, religious, correctness is demanding others not challenge such things.
Purging DOJ, justices or possibly the CBO because you’re not happy with the fact they hold you to account is certainly demanding political correctness. The heads of the CBO and the DOJ have already been purged to assure these positions are filled by highly partisan, Trump friendly, appointees. But I suspect bigger purges may be on the way, if necessary to assure the president and his team never be held account for anything. Talk about “political correctness.”
One big mistake the left has made for many years is thinking hating the phrase might make it go away. If anything it assures it will be used even more. Another big mistake they have made is not understanding that meaning is quite malleable. Anyone who has sat through college classes attempting to interpret poetry or prose comes to understand one can find many meanings to words, to phrases. This is something the wordsters on the right understand, like Frank Luntz. Indeed this is something the religious right understands all too well, especially those who enforce dogma, ritual. You see this in the demand that the only correct way to view the founding of America is through the views, the beliefs, of extreme fundamentalists.
Quick question, when Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me,” how many think he meant repeat these same words, do this exactly as he did it? Or, perhaps, whenever we gather to do good works, to serve the poor, to “commune,” to remember him, to strive to be better, more Jesus-like, if you wish?
Personally I think it more likely the latter. But politically, socially and religiously it’s often so much easier to train followers to be sheeple. Just like it’s easy to get true believers to accept that you’re being spied on by a microwave because it distracts from what you have done, what you are doing. I’m waiting for some convoluted reasoning as to how Obama might have “MacGyver-ed” that. I suspect it’s already out there.
The extreme right has gotten really good at that: absurd claims and lies meant to distract. They put to shame their 60s, Firing Line, William F. Buckley roots.
There’s nothing wrong with the phrase “political correctness.” Indeed, how it has been so narrowly defined by the right is the ultimate demand for… you already know what I’m about to type, right? “…political correctness.”
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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