“The term “politically correct” was used disparagingly, to refer to someone whose loyalty to the Communist Party Line overrode compassion, and lead to bad politics. It was used by Socialists against Communists, and was meant to separate out Socialists who believed in egalitarian moral ideas from dogmatic Communists who would advocate and defend party positions regardless of their moral substance.”
“Uncommon Differences” The Lion and the Unicorn
The first major stirrings of political correctness I witnessed occurred sometime in Bill Clinton’s presidency in early to mid 1990’s. Reading the history of Political Correctness it is clear that it’s meant different things throughout history to different groups. The Political Correct movement that all of us in the USA, and indeed throughout the modern world is used to is this current version which is based on language neutrality (one might say). That is to say, Political Correctness is how we view and speak of the world around us without categorising peoples and cultures, a conscious effort to be aware of our prejudices and marginalisation of others, and recognising the wrongness in hate and prejudices.
At the heart of this idea is a very positive message, and when I first began to understand the idea that was being pushed through the 1990’s I recall thinking that political correctness would be a positive force in our society by changing the language so that one could establish dialogues with those who possibly discriminated against you or your piece of the culture. I had long been part of the underground youth scene, which included a big population of gays, and so specifically I had believed that this would build bridges to understanding and allow people to have a more open mind.
The problem with PC is that one can change the language and not the mindset, and so our goal in those days was not to change the language, although none of us appreciated being called names like faggot or queers, but to open minds. But one cannot will acceptance on a society of deep seeded prejudices, one can only debate a “live and let live” mindset.
I don’t really believe anyone of our group of underground youthes paid the transformation into a PC society much attention since we were most concerned with our own protection and safety from those who would physically harm us. This extended to the protection of other groups, such as minorities. During that time in the Pacific Northwest (where I lived) there were many examples of just how unsafe the region was for those who did not fit into mainstream society. In national news there had been a beating death of an African born man at the hands of a white supremacist ground in Portland. In Seattle a gay man was beat to death at a popular university district park. My own group suffered two incidents of gay bashing where a friend lost his eye, and put others in the hospital. Even school was not safe if you didn’t fit in. I was daily getting into altercations, long realising the futility of fighting each person who tried to bully me (like I did at first), as it was not just random people who needed to be straightened out, but rather the whole school. On the football field a black kid got injured, no one helped him, they all ran to the side of the field after the practise was over. I was the only person to help the kid out. The only Arabic kid in our school got duct tapped to the toilet and oil poured over him. A case the school excused as freshman hazing. A kid at a school less than forty miles south made national news when his bullies shoved a hockey stick up his ass and ruptured something. The kid died I think because the school authorities didn't quick since it was only a hazing, right?! He had been called faggot, but don't mind that!
Indeed, people seem to forget that the Pacific Northwest was a hotbed of White Supremacist groups. Even the people in Washington had a very backwards ways of thinking. There were and probably is enclaves of such hate groups throughout the region. It was not uncommon from my own experience to see their ideologies passed around in my high school and in the schools of my friends in the region; passed on as some perverted idea of “White culture.” How did Hitler become the poster child of the white races?
To be honest, I think the youth culture of the times did more to change people’s points of view than anything else. In music, tv, films, effectively by the 2000’s it had felt like culture had become far more open minded and less hate filled. Whether this was an insular effect or general is hard to say since a form of homogenous culture took place in terms of the mass culture. In my day, if you were openly gay in school, you were picked on brutally, if not harmed, yet something around the late 1990’s early 2000’s had changed enough to where I had known people who were gay in high school and popular, a huge difference from even seven or eight years prior. I think this gave me a false sense of optimism that society was actually doing the work to change.
Instantly however the problem was apparent that one could say the words, nod their heads in agreement, and behind everyone’s back hate with their group of haters. The power of this hidden hate was not lost on me, as there were early examples of this in our social group, when people who hated gays made it clear they were not happy about the gays attending our parties. People pretended to have open minds, but only in the same way one wears a brand of clothing to fit in.
It would take me perhaps until my late 20’s to realised that all the PC culture did was allow those haters to stay hidden, as they began to come out en mass during certain political events, such as voting in a President. Indeed it did not take someone paying much attention to notice how these lines were very split in terms of the two political parties in the USA.
Racism was thinly veiled if not out in the open when I was younger. It was common to hear a person’s point of view on other races. In Washington State this was aimed mainly at Mexicans, who came to the region to work as migrant farm workers. A very valued service was being offered at a lower cost, and one would think there would be some form of appreciation... yeah right... Other races were targeted obviously, and it was very common to hear people being called various negative names. One needed to listen to the words behind a person’s words to know what they meant and believed at times, but listen carefully enough and one would know who you were dealing with.
This became very apparent when the Grunge culture I was part of hit mainstream, when my friends opened our inner scene to those who looked like us but didn’t have the mentality of being open minded. Suddenly years of a safe and friendly environment became more hostile and there were some new comers who couldn’t help but share how they felt about faggots.
Forced diversity and the re-appropriation of history
I think a far more dangerous practise in more recent years can be seen in the film industry who seems to wish to re-write history. To be sure what I am about to write seems petty, who cares, it’s a movie or a TV after all?
“The [Aztec’s] own version of events was periodically revised, and served to edify rather than to inform." -Davies
There are many examples of regimes or cultures telling a version of history that is self serving. The Aztecs and the Egyptians are amongst the more famous and egregious rewriters of history, but every culture and civilisation does it. What will happen in the future of world history is the fading of true events. Of the historicity of events, such as the USA’s Civil War, or the European colonisation of much of the world? Well... the entertainment industry seems to want to rewrite history for us in a new sanitised version of history.
Currently the film industry since the late 1990’s has pushed a diversity agenda that simply never existed, giving the impression that we all lived together in relative “live and let live” harmony when the truth could not be more further than what is portrayed. The revisionist history, which the film industry has never been known as accurate story tellers of actual history is so commonplace that we hardly notice it anymore. We are so used to seeing stories, based on historical times where Whites and Minorities are seen living side by side, often in friendly relations, or even seeing minorities in positions of leadership roles.
Examples of this will be seen in films about the Medieval period especially, where you’ll see a crowd of diverse peoples, or in the background you’ll see a city or town that is more cosmopolitan than what was actually the reality. This isn’t to say there wasn’t some diversity in such places like trading centres, but the idea that many diverse populations lived in Europe is utterly wrong. Even if you were a foreign, but white trader, you were allowed in quarters designed for your group of traders. We have all seen films set in anywhere from the 1600’s to the 1800’s where the main character is helped or is friends or have partners fighting beside them who are of different ethnicities, and that isn’t to say it didn’t happen (like during the slave revolt led by Spartacus). But it gives an impression of acceptance.
"Hey, those British people were not these horrible racist colonisers when X character is friends with X minority character." One film that really shows this perversion of history is "Mary Queen of Scots" where Lord Thomas Randolph is played by a black actor, giving the impression of a level of acceptance and equality, indeed, a privileged position granted to a person not of the ruling ethnicity. Which in truth, even if you were Irish or Scottish, you were seen as inferior to the English.
While only being myth, the TV mini series of the Trojan war had two main characters who were black, which gives the impression that perhaps the Greeks (who gives us the word for Barbarian, a negative and even racist term meaning others not Greek) were pretty accepting of other races.
In two historical shows I watch, both around the late 1700’s to the late 1800’s, there are two doctor like characters who are black. In both shows there is a concern that the other towns people will know they are helping the white character. I have no problem with this because it does hint towards the truth, a racism that existed in those times, and friendships between the differing groups that is well documented and often overlooked. Do I have a problem that these characters are doctors? No! I think this is the right message. That people of ethnicity had important roles, albeit not as mainstream as their white counterparts is certain and should be explored, but not “whitewashed” as if all was acceptance and no racism.
In two other films, Robin Hood with Kevin Costner and in The Dark Tower, again diversity is displayed in ways that are totally acceptable and plausible. Morgan Freeman’s character in Robin Hood is a Moor, a friend of Robin from his campaigns in the Crusades. In the Dark Tower, a sci/fi fantasy film, the main character in the book is written as white guy, but in the film played wonderfully by Idris Elba, a black actor. Who cares, it's a fantasy book, not concerning its self with history. The choice to cast a black actor in a white role is really a moot point in films that have nothing to do with reality. It isn’t trying to “whitewash” a historical period of time that was filled with racism.
The reason I point this out, much like the Aztec history, is the film Industry trying to edify our history by removing the racism out of it? I think it is an actual agenda that is negative. We need to see the truth and not try to play down the past’s reality. Will we one day write out the history of slavery and colonisation? Will the brutal oppressors be turned into friends of the minorities?
I want our history to inform us of not only our good qualities, but also our mistakes. We are battling racism today because of a long history of racism and feeling of superiority, not because we have a long history of living and let live attitudes.
Love your bother and sisters, or get “canceled”
I don’t recall exactly when gay bashing became a hate crime, but it certainly was a huge step in promoting a fairness we had never had before. I was utterly happy to hear this. When a black Reverend who marched with MLK Jr. was asked on a TV interview about this decision, he stated that he was appalled, that it was totally different from what a hate crime was. That basically being gay was a sin.
When does one cross the line between hate speech and personal opinion? And why is someone’s personal prejudices so dangerous to others? Do the Political Correctness Warriors not know they’ve already won? In recent times with social media, there has been a fine line between hate speech and the freedom of speech that simply no longer can be walked. A Jewish professor was once asked about the White Supremacists marching at his campus, if they should be banned from giving a speech, he said that he would fight for their right to free speech to hate him and his people.
To him, it was far more important that free speech be protected than removed. If things remain hidden, they cannot be identified. Cannot be mitigated, combated, and countered. Haters will hate in the open or in the shadows, it makes no difference.
What is the right course of action to such marches? In my opinion, it is to let them march. It would be wise for the government, and not activists to set up “truth kiosks” to counter act the wrong propaganda. It is a bit like a fire without fuel to burn. It just dies. Most protestors don’t seem to get that counter protesting is only adding fuel to the fire. A march that might get five seconds on local news, with violence from counter protests will get far more traction and a wider audience.
“Some critics argue that cancel culture has a chilling effect on public discourse. Others argue that calls for “cancellation” are themselves a form of free speech and that they promote accountability.”
Which is it? We have a problem with someone else’s free speech, but not with another’s? Instead of allowing the public to grow and learn through discourse, we simply will “cancel” out what we don’t care to hear?
A professor had a talk once about what he was seeing in the student body of the university he taught in. There are all these groups started and powered by students for various causes and rights, where one group or another will dogpile on others for even the slightest cause or provocation. This professor felt that a change was taking place, where people had such thin skins, were quick to dogpile on others, and worse, felt entitled to make others pay for what they believed was wrong. In the end, what traditionally made some of these communities and groups strong, such as the gay community or the black community of students is that they had developed this thick skin and learned to combat oppression. But now they were forcing a situation where the roles were reversed, where the perceived oppressor were now the ones developing the thick skins and finding new ways to combat their own perceived threats.
I was a bit shock about this talk since I had never thought of that before. How can we explain the rise of an “Alt-right” in the midst of PC Warrior's bid to even the playing field? Or had the PC Warriors not levelled the playing field but instead simply dominated it?
It is ironic how those who seem to wish to limit free speech are the same groups who desperately needed the protection of free speech during a time when their ideas and rights were marginalised. They could count upon the protection of their message by law.
The cancel culture of today is the equivalent of holding a gun at someone’s head and saying “shut up!” Placing those social warriors in the group of the oppressors. People should be allowed to hate, it at least allows us to see behind the masks and see them coming. The more something is exposed to the light, the longer it has to bask in its own ugly truths.
The Political Correct movement has not worked. It has created a culture of cry babies who simply cannot tolerate problems and are quick to jump on the band wagon with their fellow social justice warriors, all connected by social media by becoming the oppressors of free speech. It is a culture that feeds on problems and not solutions. We should never allow our freedom of speech to be endangered by polite society, which is what the early comedy acts fought against. We should never allow our freedom of speech about our world views to be silenced because, once upon a time it was, and if someone, like Oscar Wilde got out of line, there was always retribution and retaliation those who wrote the rules could enact. Society needs to stop being so punitive and be educational.
In these political times when fascism is on the edge of resurfacing, we need to empower the freedom of speech and get these ideas out there. By allowing the Alt-Right their day in the sun, we have exposed it for what it is. But silencing them, we only allow for them to grow without notice.
When I was young, fighting for gay rights, people were being killed, friends of mine were being seriously injured. I had welcomed a language and decorum that allowed a bridge, only to find that once across the bridge, those who I would most likely politically align myself with began to build a fortress, and now are the gatekeepers of that bridge and no longer allow others to pass on that bridge of free speech. The end justifies the means, it seems… although we may not see it in our times, there might be a day when bridges of any type are just simply burned, allowing no passage whatsoever irregardless of your point of view.
I grew up in a time when to fight was vitally important, and those fights could only be won by educating others, of wining hearts and minds, of including and not distancing those who hated us in the conversation. Because believe it or not, the truth does set one free.
Only those who are afraid of the truth buries it by silence.