Being politically correct is one of those phrases that actually means something quite different than the words indicate. Here are some thoughts about that from my friends over at the Week.
But over the past few decades, as the country has developed a more multicultural common culture, national institutions that tend to be based in diverse, cosmopolitan cities — especially the federal government and mainstream media — have attempted to foster greater social cohesion by promulgating a civic ethic of tolerance and sensitivity regarding an ever-lengthening list of potential points of tension or difference.
The consequence? For one thing, it’s probably much less likely than it once was that a Jewish kid or black kid or Puerto Rican kid or gay kid will have to endure being called any number of slurs… It’s far less common today, and for that we can thank political correctness — which for those of us who live in diverse communities amounts to nothing more objectionable than the background presumption that we will treat each other with a minimum of respect that includes the avoidance of gratuitous insults and other forms of social cruelty.
But what about the people who live in places that remain as homogenous as they were decades ago — and who very much want it to remain that way? When my wife returned to her hometown in 1988, her reprimand merely provoked an eye-roll from her parents. Today her town is still overwhelmingly white and Christian. The nearest gay bar is more than 30 minutes away on the interstate. Yet the government and mainstream media continually push the message that mores need to change to reflect a country filled with blacks and Jews and Latinos and Muslims and gays and the transgendered. To the white Christian residents of rural eastern Ohio, this sounds like unnecessary moral fussiness mixed with condescension and backed up by the threat of coercion.
I can relate to much of this story. I too came from a hometown that was overwhelmingly white and Christian and regularly heard the “jokes” about all those other people. Like the author I didn’t think much about them until I went to college and saw a different world, but even before then the jokes embarrassed me. I wondered how they could talk about someone as if they were not even human?
When our world moves from a very homogenized one to a diverse one you we basically have two options. One is feel threatened by the existence of those “other” people and the other is to celebrate the diversity of our new world. It seems too many choose the former today. These are the folks who make up the Trump “base”. I am hopeful that the majority of us are in the diversity camp and will actually show up in the polls in about 8 weeks to shut down the fear mongers among us.
I think politically correct means we treat others, even those quite different from us, as we would like to be treated. But then again I do agree that like everything else there are fringes out there that need to grow a thicker skin…