The PC Fallacy

It’s come to this. I never thought I would ever come to the defense of political correctness.  I’ve been bitching about the pettiness of most political correctness for years.   But some people just have to shut the hell up about political correctness being what’s wrong with our country.

Yeah, I get that you hate “political correctness.”  I also get that you keep using those words and apparently you don’t know what they actually mean.

What many of you get is that for years now you haven’t been able to call people names without other people telling you to stop.  People apparently thought you were a bad person when you did that, and you just couldn’t figure out why.  Well, I’m sorry (actually, not really) that you are upset because you can’t call people niggers any more, especially our president, and I’m sorry that you are upset that you can’t call other people towel heads because I know how much you want to.  I know it makes you feel superior and comfy in your own little tribe.

You can’t call people Micks and Spics and Polaks anymore.  No Frogs and Wops and Dagos.  And you used to be able to do that.  Yeah I get it.  I’m an old guy and I grew up using all those words.  It wasn’t easy to learn new language skills.  If it weren’t for my kids, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to try.  If you were raised on these words like I was, you have to consciously try to weed them out of your vocabulary even if you can’t completely purge them from your mind because you are too damned old and stupid.

But now you have politicians out there who are telling you, “Hey, you aren’t bad people.  It’s the liberals; they’re the ones who are all wrong.  It’s the PC police!”  Presidential candidates are telling you that the President of the United States is putting political correctness before national security and no wonder we’re not great anymore and get the hell out there and do something political incorrect because that will certainly bolster national security and make us great again.  Beat up a few black protesters and burn a mosque or two while you’re at it.

All the right-wing click bait sites have picked up on it along with all the paid political hacks on social media and you now see meme after meme telling you that political correctness is what’s wrong with America.

That’s fine with many of you, of course.  Now it’s ok to call Muslims, “pigs” and black youth you know absolutely nothing about, “thugs.”  You no longer have to lower your voice in the Starbucks and look furtively to see who might be listening.  You have by-god permission from the next president, and he’s a real man, unlike the pretender in chief (read goddamn ni**er) we have now.   (But you do lower your voice, anyway, don’t you?  Just to be sure, because you know it’s wrong? I know, because I watch you do it.)

Now you feel OK with sharing things on social media that no one would have ever posted two years ago.  You put up things reviling innocent women for apparel they are forced to wear by a misogynistic society that wants to reinstitute a culture from centuries ago, a custom by the way, that has nothing to do with the religious text you also have been taught to revile.

You openly make fun of people with degrees in “women’s studies,” a worthless pursuit when they could have been studying something useful like “how to get rich by inheriting a lot of money.”

That has nothing to do with choosing to be politically incorrect.  It has everything to do with being ignorant, intolerant, and boorish.

Ignorant and boorish people always try to take over the party, but when they are successful, they stop getting invited to parties.  So screw parties.   Now they want to take over the country and not invite anyone who isn’t just like them.  Apparently there are now enough ignorant, intolerant people that they think they can do that.

It won’t last though, even if they do.  Ignorant, intolerant people make too many enemies.  Social enemies are one thing.  Creating a world full of enemy nations is quite another.  And that’s the path they are on.

When was the last time you did a tune-up on your car?  Why not?  I remember doing tune-ups on my 1971 Pinto in the driveway because I didn’t have a garage back in the day.   I’d put in new plugs and points and set the gap – all that good stuff.   I haven’t attempted to work under the hood of a car in well over two decades.  Why not?  Because the damn things are computer controlled and what once was easy to fix, you now need to hook up a gazillion dollar analyzer just to access.  You have to go to garage school or something.  My tools, once capable of handling just about any mechanical problem are now antiquated and mostly useless.

The world has changed in the same way.  Everything is different than it used to be.  Our old tools don’t work and things are so complicated and interconnected that unless you make a career out of it, you can’t possibly put together the pieces into an intelligible whole.

The general population can afford to think their tools are adequate and their antiquated education sufficient, because they never have to actually try to fix the national engine.  Those people who might actually be able to do that know better.

Can you imagine the reaction of a country like China when a President Trump says that the Chinese leader is stupid?  “I know it’s not politically correct to say it, but that Chink is stupid!  Can you believe that guy?  Stupid Chinaman.”    And then the President who will Make America Great Again squints up his eyes and sticks out his upper teeth and says, “Ah, so.”

There is nothing Trump has shown us so far in this campaign that would lead us to believe that he might not say just such a thing.

Whether we like it or not, the world works because of tact and diplomacy.  That’s how nations get along.  When you confuse political correctness with tact and diplomacy you make a fatal error.  It’s one thing to insult a casual acquaintance or a group of people you have never met and will never meet; it’s quite another to anger an entire nuclear-capable nation you have to negotiate with on a daily basis.

You can call Muslim refugees “murderous heathen pigs” on Face Book, but if you need their help to root out the true radical Muslims, it probably isn’t a diplomatic thing for a government or a leader to do.  That’s not being politically correct.  That’s being intelligent.

And if you do say it on Face Book, it helps alienate people who are more important to the national security right now than you are.  You are, in fact, undermining the national security in a very real way, because in your ignorance you want feel superior to someone else.

Ignorance and rudeness sound tough and may feel good, but in the end, they lead to conflict.  And it isn’t worth it, particularly on an international level.

Donald Trump and the other candidates on the right aren’t the real problem, though.  Not yet. They are only a catalyst.

The real problem, it seems to me, is a population that has allowed feelings, suppressed for years and festering below the surface, to emerge after the election of our first black president.  The anger and hatred this engendered among a very vocal segment of the population has spilled over into every part of American life.  It has stopped our government from functioning properly for seven years now and has brought racial tensions to a level not seen since the riots after King’s assassination.

Racism never went away.  It just went into hiding.  Obama’s election exposed it once again.

It makes no logical sense to blame the president for any of this.  He was elected, twice, by an electorate who thought he had the skills to lead, and he has done so, quite well by any standard, and brilliantly if you take into account the opposition he has met at every turn.  The problem has been caused by two distinct but related efforts.

The first is the political resistance created by the Republican leadership from the time Obama took office.  As he was being sworn in, Republicans were agreeing to allow nothing he put forward to gain a foothold.  He was to be, by design, opposed at every turn.

The second effort fed off the first and was often fueled overtly by it.  Those people in the country who were outraged over the fact that a black man now sat in the oval office began a campaign to vilify him on every front.  The name calling began almost immediately.  And then the Birther movement emerged, questioning whether he was even eligible to be president.  His religion was called into question.  A large portion of the Republican Party still believes he is a Muslim.

Every time President Obama scored a political victory, the hatred grew.  The vitriol grew.  Nothing was off limits.  Calling the First Lady of the United States a cow is not a matter of political incorrectness.  It is a matter of disrespect and hatred.  But too many no longer care about respect and no longer care about hiding their hatred.  Many say things that are close enough to treason that they should be concerned.  And they are encouraged by political candidates who should know better.

We are not rude to white people like us.  We can be as rude as we want to black people like them.  We can call Muslims names because they aren’t Christians.  We can show disdain for Hispanics immigrants because they speak broken English.  We don’t have to be “politically correct” any more.

First we hated Obama and called him a Muslim.  Now we hate Muslims.  They’re just like Obama.  He’s helping them take over the country.  He’s one of them and we hate all of them.  It’s a conspiracy.

The blacks are tired of being shot, unarmed in the streets, but we are tired of black thugs like the one in the White House telling us what we can do and what we can’t.  If they don’t like it here, get out.  Get a job.   They should stop tearing down their neighborhoods.  They should stop shooting each other.   They should get the hell out of our neighborhoods.  Get out of our lives.  And take your Muslim terrorist heathen friends with you.  You are all alike.  You are not us.  We fear you.  We hate you.

The problem in this country today is not political correctness.  The problem in this country today is institutional racism and bigotry, and the more people try to hide that behind the fiction that the real problem is liberals trying to appease minorities, the faster the day will come when someone, on one side or the other, says, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more” and the shooting starts.

There are far too many people, particularly on the right who think this is a good thing.  They think it will re-establish the proper order in this country and put minorities in their place once and for all.  It will somehow create a smaller government with a larger military that can police the world.  It will show liberals that they can’t push God-fearing people around any longer and it will put the Bible back in government and prayer back in schools.  It will somehow magically create, through mass destruction and loss of life, what they could not create peacefully.

And there are far too many on the left who think this is a good thing as well.  They also think this is the only way we will solve the problems we have been unable to solve for decades.  They think that this time people will somehow magically see the futility of violence and the failure of the right-wing agenda to produce anything else.   Everyone will suddenly get all logical and make the right choices.

There are those who think it will show, once and for all, the failure of the present generation’s policies and somehow make way for a younger generation.  But the generation that could make the most difference has shown no interest in leading the country, preferring instead to sit on the political sidelines.

All of these groups are very wrong.

None of these groups can apparently see the scale of what we face.  I’m not sure that many do.

This won’t be a matter of isolated riots in Watts or Detroit where police try to quell looting and restore order.  We don’t live in that world any longer.  It’s not a world of Pintos and landlines.  It’s a world of fuel injection and twitter.  It’s a country that is armed to the teeth and angry as hell.  It’s a country where you can find the complete guide to being a terrorist as close as the nearest computer.

If we allow it to happen, this time, when the shooting starts, it will change this country forever.  You will not have to read about it in newspapers or see it on TV.  It will play out in a neighborhood near you – all over the country.

You can see the beginnings of it on the streets of Ferguson and Cleveland.

The “patriot” militias will see the government’s reluctance to shoot American citizens, looting or not, as a sign of dysfunctionality and weakness, and take matters into their own hands.  Police and National Guardsmen will hesitate to shoot at American “patriots,” whether they are killing minorities or not.   Eventually, order will have to be re-established.

“Patriotic” white people are already shooting at shoplifters because they have a gun and a permit and they think they have a right.  What do you think will happen when a group of angry minority protesters marches down their street?

You can see the beginnings at an Oregon bird refuge.  Armed “patriots” emboldened by the federal government’s decision to not induce bloodshed in the Bundy episode in Nevada have taken over a federal site and have called for others to join them.  Reactionaries on the left have called for everything from the Nation Guard to shoot them on sight to drone strikes.

Everyone has guns.  Everyone is looking for an excuse to shoot them.  And there are no shortage of excuses.

History will call it the Second Civil War.

Every time a political figure promotes racism and bigotry from a campaign podium, we move closer to this scenario.   Every time a “patriotic” web site posts another hate-mongering meme, we move closer to this scenario.  Every time you share that meme you move us closer to this scenario.

Political correctness does not undermine national security.  Ignorance and short sightedness undermine national security.   Hate mongering and bigotry undermine national security.  Deliberate miseducation and deception undermine national security.

We need to call out every instance of this, not as a matter of political correctness, not because want to protect the feelings of minorities, but because we want to insure the stability of the country.  We need to condemn expressions of institutional racism wherever they occur and we need to root out the bigots and haters on social media.  Ignore them, un-follow them, block them where necessary.

You do not want another Civil War.

Your Humble Servant,
Roger A. Shipley, The Willowbrook Curmudgeon

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