There’s an unfortunate tendency among Democrats to demonize Republicans, and vice versa, of course. The association of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with Satan himself is way more common an occurrence than I’m comfortable bearing witness to. This has even applied for Presidents of the United States. Never could it have been imagined — just decades ago — that comparisons drawn between men sitting in the Oval Office (e.g. George W. Bush or Barack Obama) and ones like Adolf Hitler would be socially permissible by any stretch.
But such was the state of affairs in 2015, quite a dark year for humanity, if we’re being honest. Events such as the terror attacks in Paris (plural), domestic mass shootings (record setting), and court sanctioned murders of black civilians by officers of the law (countless) have made for a degree of skepticism as to the future of our country — and indeed the world. Well, we made it through 2008, I suppose. So for perhaps the first time ever uttered with sincerity: Thanks, Obama.
That said, I’ll take a shot at each party. The latest in election subterfuge and general fuckery is the manipulation of “political correctness”, a term which has become all but the official campaign slogan for GOP candidates in attempts to justify radically offensive public statements made under the false pretense of courageously challenging liberal censorship. Needless to say, it’s been made use of frequently in recent weeks and months. Here are a few examples:
Donald Trump [re] the 9/11 attacks: “I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. I know it might not be politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down”.
Ben Carson [re] similarities between the Obama administration and the Third Reich: “I mean, very much like Nazi Germany — and I know you’re not supposed to talk about Nazi Germany, but I don’t care about political correctness — you know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate a population.“
Ted Cruz [re] the Obama administration’s responsibility for the San Bernadino shootings: “The problem is because of political correctness. The Obama administration, like a lot of folks here, want to search everyone’s cell phones and emails and not focus on the bad guys; and political correctness is killing people.“
In the interest of impartiality, here is a link to the New York Times’ Fact Checking system for statements made by candidates both Democratic and Republican over the course of the election thus far:
And so on. The problem here being that political correctness is depicted as some sort of diabolical leftwing conspiracy, a societal malignancy intended to belittle First Amendment rights, when the truth is that it’s just a byproduct of fundamental social contract. People are discouraged from making hateful comments about others because that’s the way a civilized society works (though they more often do so for fear of not being liked, but that’s a separate issue).
What the aforementioned quotes demonstrate, then, is a subversive means of broadcasting prejudice — and thereby fostering its growth — by hiding behind the guise of the First Amendment; but that’s not really about Freedom of Speech at all. Rather, it’s about freedom of bigotry, and the deluded expectation to be applauded for exercising it.
Now, on to the Democrats. A serious shortcoming of the liberal community is its propensity to stifle social and political discourse by labeling people as bigoted merely for having a conflicting opinion. This is ultimately just as detrimental as its antithesis, because preventing debate and pluralism inhibits any hope of compromise or solution. To preclude people from consideration for having opposing beliefs is no less egregious than doing so on the basis of religion — which is also a belief, as it turns out.
In turn, members of ethnic and religious minorities are enabled to viciously condemn those in the majority whose only crime is to be part of a certain demographic — which quite unequivocally constitutes reverse prejudice, even if some would like to believe that it doesn’t exist. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard sweeping indictments like “all men are pigs” or “white people are devils”. I’ve been blatantly accused of chauvinism solely for not worshipping all things Beyoncé, and likewise of anti-Semitism for objecting to actions of Israeli government in the West Bank.
Point being that disenfranchised peoples end up being inoculated from any and all commentary or dispute by virtue of their having at one point been discriminated against — and that’s not helping anybody. Granting preferential treatment based on race or sex is the very definition of racism and sexism, just as denying equal treatment is, too.
Case in point: Iggy Azalea, who is a terrible musician, has been accused of violating black culture because she is a white woman making rap music. The argument here — a thoroughly erroneous one — is that being a white rapper is essentially tantamount to cultural appropriation, and therefore intentional racial transgression. That is absolutely absurd, and again, racism in its essence.
You’re probably thinking that not only do I contradict myself in this argument, but I’m also a closet bigot, homophobe, misogynist et al. That is a natural response to hearing criticism of the historically disenfranchised, and incidentally, further proof that mine is a valid point. Nobody should be deemed as immune to critique, because that isn’t equality, and only serves to exacerbate the divisive nature of social prejudice.
For the record, I will freely admit to battling sexist tendencies all my life as a consequence of my upbringing, but the only way that’s been possible is by others identifying said tendencies and calling me out on my bullshit. In broader terms, the only way to fix societal problems such as these is by first allowing them to be addressed in public discourse using a manner which balances transparency and deference. That does not mean you get to be ignorant and hateful with impunity, but neither does it mean you get to unjustly indict people with amnesty.
This issue transcends the upcoming election, as well as our struggle to maintain bipartisanship; it is symptomatic of a latent tension which has been engendered and cultivated by centuries of classism, patriarchy and discrimination by ethnic and religious majorities. Nevertheless, a truly progressive American public can no longer pretend that walking on eggshells is any more productive than trampling on liberties. There is a marked difference between voicing dissension and invoking hate, and it’s an important one to start bearing in mind. Even if outrage is all the rage, these days.