Political Correctness


George Will recently wrote a column about how ridiculous political correctness can be. Of course it can be silly when taken too far, but what was the point of it to begin with?
Conservatives prefer to define it as something liberals devised to shame and dictate to them. In what way? By requiring good manners when speaking of minorities, or anyone else you don’t like. I think a lot of people who make a virtue of political incorrectness do so in nostalgia for the days when it was perfectly okay to call minorities demeaning names as a way of reminding them they could be subjected to arbitrary violence. That’s not what I’d call good manners.
If you use the “N” word to someone black, that’s politically incorrect. Your mother might tell you it’s also impolite. A friend of mine has told me, “A gentleman is rude only with deliberation.” In other words, a gentleman strives to be polite, unless someone else is being rude, in which case he reprimands them. A professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington tells students tells his classes they should expect to be offended, because free speech does include offensiveness. Let our speech be free, but let our rudeness not be gratuitous.
When I walk around the nursing home where I work at night I catch glimpses of TV programs, sometimes including Fox News. Two discussions I heard recently I find exquisitely ironic.
One was a discussion of “white privilege”. Conservatives seem to be offended by the very idea, despite its obvious history. I suppose they prefer their narrative that black people are mostly poor because they’re lazy. As one with a number of black co-workers, I can affirm that some are and some aren’t, just like whites or anyone else. As I understand it, white privilege is a term meaning, among other things, that whites stopped by police don’t have to fear for their lives. A number of news stories in recent years demonstrate that that’s not true for blacks. So does a study recently reported on in the New York Times. Traffic stops in Greensboro, North Carolina, over several years were studied, and it was found the blacks were stopped twice as often as whites, although whites were more often found with contraband.
The other topic was a cartoon in a college paper depicting the Republican party as Jihadi John, who is famous as a member of ISIS who has appeared in videos of beheadings. Apparently conservatives find this offensive, and respond by whining about it, just like liberals are said to do. My immediate response was, “Republicans can dish it out, but they can’t take it.” Apparently free speech isn’t so desirable when the shoe is on the other foot. Has anyone kept track of the number of names President Obama has been called? Is this still the party of he-men like John Wayne, or is it the party of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who never served in combat, but were pathetically eager to use military force when they were in a position to do so? President Eisenhower must still be turning over in his grave.
I might add that other prominent Republicans share the distinction of never having served, like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. And the Republican party has refused to give veterans the benefits they need and deserve. You would think Republicans would be grateful to veterans, but apparently you would be mistaken. I think that means the rest of us should be allowed to question their patriotism, as they question the patriotism of Democrats. ANY Democrats.
Republicans have been establishing that political INcorrectness is a virtue for the last thirty years or so. But we should note that it isn’t just honesty. It’s using one’s nastiest beliefs to intimidate, as encouraged by people like Rush Limbaugh. This is certainly bad manners at the very least, especially when the objects of abuse aren’t allowed to reply. It also calls into question just how Republicans feel about liberty and democracy. I don’t think they particularly approve, unless they are to have more power than anyone else.


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