pcAfter years (and years) of working in the defense industry, I have an aversion to acronyms.   But aversion or not, I can’t avoid them, in spite of their annoying habit of standing for more than one thing.   In my men’s groups there are several guys who talk about HP.  They mean their Higher Power but I can’t help but smile and think Hewlett Packard.  I usually tell them I’m a Dell guy.  It won’t surprise you then that the acronym PC brings to mind Personal Computer which both dates me and certifies me as a techie.   But what I’m talking about here is political correctness.

For years, I have concerned about the extreme political correctness that took hold over the last decade or so.   It has seemed to me that the need to say every thing just so, being so careful to use exactly the correct, non-offensivecarlin terminology has crippled our ability to communicate and, in fact, hidden who we really are.  Unfortunately, the rise of social media and the say-whatever-you-think days of Donald Trump have made it clear that our nation has not come as far from my teen years as I thought.   We are less likely than I thought to accept those different than ourselves, whether the difference is race, religion, sexual preference or, really, most anything else.   I have heard more old-white-male bashing in the last few years than ever before.  BUT …  as sad as it is to see what we are after all these years as the home of the brave and the land of the free, I think it is better to know where we are.  The question is how do we move forward, which requires, most certainly, talking to each other.

I found an article on the Atlantic this morning titled, Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture.  I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of communication but I’ll try to capture the essence here.   It turns out that 80% of Americans feel that political correctness is a problem in this country, and opinion that is remarkably consistent over race and age.   Perhaps surprisingly, minorities are more likely to dislike political correctness than whites.  Virtually the only group that strongly backs political correctness are progressive activists, which comprises 8% of the populace.  Here is the other side of the coin.   Per the article, It turns out that while progressive activists tend to think that only hate speech is a problem, and devoted conservatives tend to think that only political correctness is a problem, a clear majority of all Americans holds a more nuanced point of view: They abhor racism (82%).

This tells me that we are better off as a country than we appear to be … the 80% just can’t be heard over the shouting from the left and right.   This 80% is what the article calls the exhausted majority whose members share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.  We need to speak up, loudly.   We need to be able to say that while every police shooting of a black child is a tragedy, not every shooting of a black man is racism.  We need to condemn sexism vehemently but not convict without trial every man accused under the banner of #MeToo.   We need to condemn hate speech categorically but insist that it is protected by our constitution.   We must be able to say that our country needs a better immigration policy without being called racists.   We need to express our concerns (and confusion) about rapidly changing issues like gender while insisting on equal rights for all.  And we need to stop letting the far right and left speak for us in our national discourse.   We will never find the middle, where most of us reside, by depending on the extremes to swing the pendulum back and forth.   That used to work but it doesn’t any more.  The party that finds this middle … and speaks to it … will win in a landslide.  That’s what I think.  How about you?

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4 Comments on “PC”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    As usual OE, I like most of what you are saying in this piece. I abhor labels. I think I can be conservative and liberal in different aspects of my life. Am I an American Jew or a Jewish American? Depends on the context. And the far left and far right clearly have too much dominance over the public discourse. As for PC, I don’t get why it bugs people. If people with dark skin want to be called Negro (as they were when I was a kid), black or African American, I am happy to oblige. Homosexual, gay, queer? I’m fine using the terminology that the group is comfortable with. Heaven know life is hard for these minorities in so many ways that I cannot even imagine, that is the least I can do. I don’t see PC being a barrier to communication. That barrier comes from intransigence of so many people to even listen to “the other side”.

    • oldereyes Says:

      It doesn’t matter if you and I understand why people are bugged by PC as much as we understand that a substantial majority of Americans are and when we put being PC first … before, for example, the heart of a matter like immigration … that majority is inclined to dismiss what we have to say. So we end up preaching to the choir while showmen like Trump tap into their angst. I suspect it goes both ways. If someone who dislikes PC starts in on a topic … let’s use immigration again … with racially insensitive (but not racist) terminology … aren’t we inclined to dismiss what they say? I think that is part of what you call intransigence of so many people to even listen to “the other side.”

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