'Political Correctness' means pretty much zero now

Brian Tue, 2016-04-19 13:45
Donald Drumpf on 'political correctness'

You getting tired of "political correctness?" I know I am.

Maybe not in the way you are. The term is much in use by people who've appropriated it to use as a cudgel. If you're "politically correct," why, you're just trying to make other people feel bad, and enforce your own conception of proper behaviour on them. Bad, bad, bad. Where people are "free" to think what they like, to be individuals, there can be no "political correctness"! You're like the Nazis! (Or Stalinists, depending on what conversation we're in.)

Maybe it would help if people actually knew what it meant. Maybe people wouldn't feel so bad about it if they knew no one should use the term in this way.

"Politically correct" is a term that many years ago was used in pretty much exclusively leftist political circles. It means: given that you've expressed adherence to a certain set of beliefs, perhaps even an ideology, how should you approach a given issue or problem? How do your professed principles, often new ones, determine what you should do? What is the "politically correct" thing to do?

So you're like totally against the South African apartheid system, but you still eat South African Granny Smiths, and drink South African wines? That's not politically correct! There's a boycott on, sponsored by people like us!

On the other hand, if you thought apartheid was just fine, and you ate a Granny Smith, no one would ever (correctly) accuse you of being "politially incorrect"!

If you're in a meeting of a KKK klavern discussing membership recruitment, and, when your turn to speak comes, you say, "Hey! I've got an idea! Let's treat African-Americans and Jews as equals! Then maybe we could have more members." Yow! That would be politically incorrect!!

See? It could be a useful term for everyone, provided they have a clear set of principles and/or beliefs they can apply to themselves. That they can use to decide what's "politically correct," and what's not.

Consider the Arabic word jihad. For most Westerners, it means the Islamist terrorist effort to kill all non-believers, and perhaps to impose an Islamic caliphate. And there's some small support for that in the Muslim world. But there's a meaning which is entirely more fundamental (if I understand correctly) to Muslims, and that is that jihad is the life-long, inner struggle to perfect your Muslim self in light of your Muslim beliefs. To struggle against temptations and lusts, and to be more like what Allah wishes his followers to be. (Again, if I understand correctly; I'm trying to be careful here, as I'm not Muslim, and can't speak for Muslims.) In other words, it's the inner struggle to triumph over the external world, where necessary. It's not that hard to understand.

But that's the jihad that is most important for the huge majority of Muslims. (If I understand correctly.)

Western Muslims pursuing this jihad must do it, in many cases, in a non-Muslim environment, and it can't be easy.

Leftists also have their inner struggles. We live in a society where, for example: working people make too much money (especially if they make more than I); unions are "oppressive," preventing individual workers from pursuing their own excellence, unless we're talking about police unions; laying waste to Libya was a great victory; the Super Bowl is an expression of the superiority of North American individuality, despite that pursuing touchdowns is a collective effort; chocolate, despite much of it being the product of child slave labour in Africa, tastes really good; consuming more, more, more is a belwether of our individuality, our individuality being all-important; and so on. Maybe the politically correct thing to do would be to avoid chocolate and football games, but a lot of people have trouble doing that, so they continue. That doesn't mean they're not leftists; sometimes they just do things that might be politically incorrect. It's an ongoing discussion. But it has nothing to do with non-leftists. It simply doesn't apply.

Largely through struggle, North American beliefs have progressed in the last 200 years. Most of us believe slavery to be abhorrent, abortion to be a matter of choice, and racism and intolerance unacceptable. All people should be treated equally. But many of us want to be considered progressive on the one hand, while maintaining our prejudices on the other. One of the most insulting epithets nowadays is to be called a "racist." It's especially insulting if you actually are a racist, and many continue to be. So the term "politically correct" has been stolen, and now means, "Don't bother me with 'poiitical correctness.' I don't care if my beliefs and actions are racist, I'm not a racist." And the term is used even if no one's accused them of being "politically incorrect," just racist.

Maybe it would help to say to such people, "No one ever accused you of political correctness. I acknowledge your thoughts and actions are absolutely true to your racist, shithead beliefs." But maybe not.

It's been stolen, abused, turned around, made virtually meaningless. Piffle. Another perfectly good phrase in English reduced to nothingness.

There is, of course, no use in complaining. This kind of thing happens all the time, to many words/phrases. Like "awesome," "epic," and many, many others.