Political Correctness: A Moment Defined

A few months back, someone close to me asked if I ever had to be politically correct while I was writing. This person is not political, but when pressed into such conversations is clearly conservative of mindset—though I admit I’m not sure they understand why or, really, what it means.

Regardless, this question is tied into the last in the long line of chaos Donald Trump is creating, and is captured in this tweet from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The problem here, of course, is that Donald Trump and the people who believe in him don’t consider what he’s saying to be racist at all. This is at the core of why I say Trump is the second coming of Archie Bunker. Archie, despite oozing racism of both the personal and institutional kind, never believed he had a racist bone in his body.

The question “do I ever have to be politically correct while I’m writing,” is tied up in this because the question basically asks “do you ever NOT put forward a point of view because you think it’s too … controversial?” And in this case, “controversial” means racist. In other words, the question is “do you ever avoid putting views into your work merely because you think that would out you as a racist?” That’s not how the person who questioned me would characterize it, but that’s what the question really is. Do you ever feel constrained from putting forward a view because then people will think you are (in this case) racist?

They didn’t ask if I write about race (which on occasion I do). They didn’t ask if I write about gender (which also, to some degree, I do, though it’s probably more fair to say I write from different viewpoints of other genders more than I do “about” gender). They didn’t ask if I feel awkward when I write from political views that are not mine (which I do), or how I get over that hump. They asked if I ever had to be politically correct, which, when you really think about it, is something very personal.

The difference between what Trump (and the Republicans who are supporting him) is doing now and what the person who asked me this question was doing then is that Trump (and those same Republicans) understand the dynamic. They understand what the argument is about. I am 100% certain that the person who asked me this question has not thought it through to the point I’m bringing it. When Trump writes “go back to where you came from,” he knows he’s telling people who follow him that this is not only “acceptable” (read as legal per 1st amendment rights) but is morally correct. When Republicans come to support Trump again (as they’ve proven time and time again they will), they are agreeing with him.

This is the root of the problem—the fundamental aspect of what the next election is about. Because the issue is not really the words, right? The issue is that the words come with an entire framework of thinking. If it’s acceptable to tell someone to go back where they came from, it’s acceptable to round them up and send them back.

When the writers in “All in the Family” put words in Archie Bunker’s mouth, they are doing it in a way that exposes these ideas for the painful things they are. When Carol O’Connor (who carried personal views that were left of center) voices them so brilliantly, he’s asking people to see through him and maybe find a bit of themselves there.

When Trump does it, though, he’s saying Archie was actually right. And when Republicans support him, they are agreeing.

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Bringing up the issue of “Political Correctness” pretty much always requires a nod to Neil Gaiman’s amazingly wonderful take on the subject.

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  1. What I see is Trump doing is calling out those bad-mouthing The United States and demanding we change our government to the form of government one of the group fled. Trump was crude in how he did it, but I don’t care. He was more polite than the one who called him a motherfucker, and certainly less violent than the militant arm of the DNC, Antifa.

    I think Robert Heinlein was right with his idea to limit the franchise to those that served. Those that wrote a blank check with their lives to defend the Constitution. There is nothing like hearing a bullet scream by your ear to put things in focus.

  2. If this gets ugly, I’ll shut it down…but, Gregg, your first statement contains a factual error (antifa is not connected to the DNC in any way, nor has it ever been). The fact that you don’t care that Trump uses racially charged language stands on its own, I suppose, and is part of the point I’m making. It is racist language. You like it (or at least you don’t care, which is essentially the same thing for this conversation). To call Donald Trump’s language “polite” quite honestly made me laugh out loud. I also clearly disagree that anyone is either bad mouthing America or calling for bad forms of government. The thoughts expressed by these women are at the heart and core of the US Constitution, and many of the kinds of programs they are discussing are running just fine in other democracies around the world. The form of government these women are advocating is called democracy. That you feel challenged by this concept of America is, perhaps, at the root of the issue.

    Aside — It’s, of course, interesting that a day after Trump said these women should “go back where they came from” Trump stood at a pedestal looking so very Mussolini-like while his adoring crowd chanted “send them back!” (which is the idea embedded toward the end of this post). These ideas are racist, Gregg, and therefore fundamentally anti-American. I’d like you to acknowledge that simple fact. That the person behind them continues to use that language despite it being brought to his attention means that this person is also racist, and therefore fundamentally anti-American.

    Regarding Heinlein and service, there are many who have provided service to the military (of which I will loosely call myself one) who would disagree 100% with that idea. It’s one of those things that sounds almost interesting until you think about it. On the other hand, implementing that idea would have the advantage of keeping Donald Trump from participating in our government, so I’ll admit that’s one feather in its hat.

    Thanks for your comments, though, Gregg.

  3. On Heinlein, I took issue with his idea and spelled it out in a chapter of Time’s Crossroads. It suffers from the same flaw all government suffers from. It works so long as those in power are honest along with those exercising the franchise. When the elected figure out the elected will buy votes with “free” things, the government fails.

    Antifa IS the DNC. Note that not one of the”Squad” will… Wait, no one in the DNC will denounce them even when asked directly yes or no on supporting them.

    As for Trump’s tweet, he didn’t use a racial slur, nor did he use a sexist slur. Fact is, he never named anyone, not even their party affiliation. But the four sure wasted no time claiming victimhood. Funny how Omar can praise ISIS and not get called on it, but Trump is racist for using any racist terms.

    What I don’t understand is the protection the four are getting over the things they said which are explicit in their hate for Jews, the State if Isreal and America. One even publicly called Trump “…that motherf@$ker,” and to this day has defended her use of the word. Double Standard anyone?

    I watch, I listen, I pay attention. I even watch CNN and MSNBC. I even was banned from CNN’s site for pointing out a fact and sources. I found it funny really. SOP but funny.

    What we need are Congressional term limits and removing their retirement system. Put them on Social Security like the rest of us. See my blog post A Modest Proposal.

  4. Hi, Gregg. Effectively, there are pretty much no thoughts that you’ve expressed germaine to the issues at hand that I would agree with. So rather than bitch at each other, I think we’re done.

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