The “Political Correctness” Smokescreen


That’s right. I said it. I used a swearword in my blog…um…almost! Take that PC Police!

Okay. So I’m being a bit tongue in cheek here–but only a bit. In the last few months political observers have commented on the amazing rise of the Washington “outsiders” in the Republican nominating process. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and now Carly Fiorina are humiliating the lamestream candidates Bush 3.0, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul et. al. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Running as an outsider, whether someone is the former governor of California or Texas, or a private equity mogul, is pretty much standard fair for conservatives. It plays well among liberals, as well. Hell, going all the way back to the Log Cabin campaigns of presidential aspirants after Andrew Jackson it seems that convincing the electorate of one’s common man origins, even when such origins are a complete fiction, is the default strategy in the United States.

What is shocking, however, is the appeal added to these so called outsider campaigns* when the candidates say the most shocking, offensive and inaccurate things about “the other.” They then punctuate their absurd comments with self adulation for having the “courage” to say things that are not “politically correct.” These are the candidates who are willing to “say it like is,” or “call it as they see it.” They are “straight talkers” who will not be cowed by expectations that demand they water down the truth with acceptable patterns of speech. For them, political correctness is a form of tyranny destroying the minds of real Americans.

Their base eats this balderdash up because nothing demonstrates courage like insulting the marginalized, minorities and women.

So when Donald Trump is confronted by Meghan Kelly about his clear misogyny his defense is that he doesn’t “have time for total political correctness.” His claim that undocumented immigrants are rapists and violent is the kind of straight talk that politicians are afraid to say despite the fact that they all know it to be true. I guess they are so scared because the Illegal Immigrant Lobby is so powerful in the United States.

Ben Carson can disparage 1.5 billion people then write an editorials about the dangerous impact of political correctness on American culture. He has even written a book on the subject (which I see no reason to advertise here). He believes that political correctness is a radical liberal conspiracy to get people to not speak the truth for fear that doing so will offend somebody. Thus liberals will be able to…to…um…do something. Ben’ll get back to you. But it’s clearly a left wing conspiracy. Muahahahahahaha! You got em’, Ben! Tell it! Tell it!

Of course, when you look behind the rhetoric, what do you see? Clear cut bigotry. Nothing more. Trump and Carson are doing nothing more than camouflaging their hatred for “the other” with nonsense about not being politically correct. Of course, this is playing to fabulous success among the right wing, which tells you more about the right than it does the candidates.

Look, I agree with the overall danger that political correctness can be an obstacle to legitimate discourse when the facts clearly indicate that the popular position on a topic is false. This is not the case with Trump or Carson. The problem with these two is not that they are not being politically correct. The problem is that they are not being factually correct.

Spreading lies and falsehoods about Mexicans and Muslims and women or poor people or whatever particular group one happens to disdain is not “straight talk” or “telling it like it is.” Someone so ignorant as to spew age old stereotypes, hatred and fearmongering should not be lauded for his willingness to “speak his mind” and “call it like he sees it.” No. He should be derided as a bigot, a fool and/or an ignoramus. If his ideas are wrong, objectively disprovable, then anything he has to say based on those ideas is also wrong. There should be no extra credit for trying. Perhaps the right wing has a different definition of “straight talk” than I do (am I being too politically correct in saying this?)

Also, what’s wrong with not wanting to offend anyone? When we discuss social problems or political concerns do we have to offend in the process? Can’t we choose more respectful rhetoric? If we fear the influence of immigration do we have to stereotype Mexicans and rapists? Once upon a time being able to express oneself respectfully was a sign of class and education. It used to be called treating people with basic, human dignity, not political correctness.

Which leads me to this test. Whenever a Donald Trump or a Ben Carson, or, for that matter, Hillary or Bernie, should make a claim about political correctness, try substituting the words “treat[ing] people with basic human dignity.” If doing so makes the speaker sound like an asshole, then it’s quite likely that that speaker said something assholish!

So for instance, when Trump said, “I don’t have time for political correctness,” we should rephrase that as, “I don’t have time to treat people with basic human dignity.” Oh…asshole!

When Ben Carson says something along the lines of “political correctness is destroying our nation.” What he means is, “treating people with basic, human dignity is destroying our nation.” That’s kind of assholish.

I know. I know. Calling people assholes is not treating them with basic, human dignity.

I’m sure Donald Trump and Ben Carson can teach me a thing or two about Political Correctness.

Look, there are times when bluntness works. Those who read this blog regularly know that I’m not inclined to using profanity. When confronting the powerful in their ignorant attempts to justify bigotry and misogyny directed at those who have a history of victimization at the hands of bigots and misogynists we use what tools we have at our disposal.


*As a bit of an aside, Donald Trump brags about all of the political bigwigs who, according to him, are constantly calling him, asking for favors, advice or support, yet he is presented as an “outsider.” How is that even possible. But that’s a blog for another day.


  1. Sadly, what’s below is not mine but I wish it was:

    For the last six odd years, almost all of the things I wanted to write or say, have been stymied by that modern term referred to as ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS’.. Although I consider myself reasonably fluent in English, that term was not in my vocabulary. Curiosity got the better of me so I decided to do a little research, and after two weeks of chasing fruitless leads, I found what I’d been looking for at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence Missouri. An unnamed source there sent me copies of four telegrams between then-President Harry Truman and Gen Douglas MacArthur on the day before the actual signing of the WW2 Surrender Agreement in September 1945.. The contents of those four telegrams below are exactly as received at the end of the war – not a word has been added or deleted!

    (1) Tokyo,Japan

    0800-September 1,1945

    To: President Harry S Truman

    From: General D A MacArthur

    Tomorrow we meet with those yellow-bellied bastards and sign the Surrender Documents, any last minute instructions?

    (2) Washington, D C

    1300-September 1, 1945

    To: D A MacArthur

    From: H S Truman

    Congratulations, job well done, but you must tone down your obvious dislike of the Japanese when discussing the terms of the surrender with the press, because some of your remarks are fundamentally not politically correct!

    (3) Tokyo, Japan

    1630-September 1, 1945

    To: H S Truman

    From: D A MacArthur and C H Nimitz

    Wilco Sir, but both Chester and I are somewhat confused, exactly what does the term politically correct mean?

    (4) Washington, D C

    2120-September 1, 1945

    To: D A MacArthur/C H Nimitz

    From: H S Truman

    Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end!

    Now, with special thanks to the Truman Museum and Harry himself, you and I finally have a full understanding of what ‘POLITICAL CORRECTNESS’ really means…..


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