What is Politically Correct?

tamtrumAfter spending the week trying to understand Trump’s victory, I’m almost ready to accept the things I cannot change, to show the courage to change the things I can and find the wisdom to know the difference. Oh, and to stop wanting to strangle Bernie supporters who didn’t vote for Clinton and are now marching in the streets against Trump. Come on people. My moving past Trumageddon and finding things I can change is going to be directed at making sure the same shit-storm, the same extreme-right-wing-agenda-by-stealth doesn’t happen to us in Australia too. But first, I have one last looking back at the wreckage discussion I want to have with you all. I want to talk about political correctness.

I have a toddler. When she is being naughty, and I’m making an effort to do something about it, rather than to just let her be naughty because it’s easier, I find the motivation to discipline her from the voice in my head urging me not to raise a little-shit child who would, if left undisciplined, turn into a crappy adult. I’m pretty sure all parents, like me, do their best to teach children not to be naughty, not to throw stones at the cats, not to hit their cousin, not to throw their food on the floor, to cry and whinge when they don’t get their own way. As she gets older, I will be pushing the ‘don’t be naughty, do what you’re told’ message even further my making an effort to instil in her a sense of right and wrong. Bringing up a child to be good, to show respect to others, empathy, never cheating or lying, being honest, and basically, following my atheist-version-of-the-closest-thing-to-religious-morality – living life by the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do to you, is considered, worldwide, a fundamental part of being a parent. Some might call this ‘raising children properly’, or ‘being raised right’. But no matter how you refer to the cultural practice of setting fairly base-level standards of behaviour for children, we can all agree on why we do it. Because humans have to live together, we are social beings, and living together means learning how to treat each other for the good of our own lives, and for everyone else’s.

Now, tell me how behaving properly is different from being politically correct? As far as I can tell, political correctness is being polite, not discriminating against people who aren’t like you, giving people a fair chance, standing up for the disadvantaged, listening to others, showing respect and acting like a good person. When we bring up our children to be good, aren’t we bringing them up to be politically correct?

So this is where I get really confused. How did the Trump-circus successfully turn political correctness into a bad thing? How did all these people who were brought up to be good, and presumably work to bring their children up to be good, decide that they had to fight against political correctness, and fight for the right to be nasty, disrespectful, rude little brats?

I lost count of the number of times I heard a Trump supporter congratulating Trump for ‘saying what he thinks’. If a little 5 year old boys taunts a 5 year old girl, telling her she is fat and ugly, I would hope he would be disciplined and told that his behaviour is unacceptable. If a 10 year old girl told her Mexican-born school-mate that her family were rapists and that they were all going to be thrown out of the country, and good riddance, I would like to think the girl’s parents and school teachers would get very angry. And if a 15 year old boy grabbed a girl’s vagina, and then boasted about it to his mates, is this something his parents would be proud of hearing?

My point is, we bring our children up to be politically correct adults, but in this weird and whacky post-Trump society, somehow all the values encompassed by the phrase, the values we’re all brought up to expect, are flipped on their head and the anti-political correctness movement instead values the opposite. They value people who don’t think before they speak, who never apologise, who say revolting and abhorrent things all the time and when called out on it, dig deeper and get more and more aggressive. They value lying constantly, and then lying about the lying. They value ‘saying it like it is’, which apparently means removing any filter between what you think and what you say, no matter how vile your thoughts are.

Do Trump supporters hope to bring their children up to be like Trump? Has humanity changed the rules on what it means to be an acceptable member of society? And has Trump’s win given permission for grown-up adults to throw away the values they were brought up with – to instead celebrate bad behaviour through electing it as President? If this is what has happened, can I suggest it’s time America took a good long hard look at itself, maybe spent some time out in their bedroom and think about reinstating afternoon naps for those who have forgotten how to behave liked adults? In the meantime, I’m more determined than ever to bring my child up to be politically correct, and she’ll be a much better, and happier, adult because of it.


  1. Victoria, Bernie should have gotten the Democratic nomination, Clinto had too much political baggage but as in Australia, the right wing of the Democratic Party (see ALP) won. the yanks were looking for a revolution, if Bernie had won the nomination he may have won the day because he was offering something different to the usual right wing policy direction of the Democrats and the Republicans, but as in Australia where Tanya is more popular than Bill, the right wing are control freaks.

  2. In my humble opinion we must try to convert the ALP from being a right wing union party to being a centre of the political spectrum people’s party or it will not survive the way the world is demanding representation, even going to the extreme of electing ultra right wing fanatics looking for something different out of the political class.

    Australia is no different our people are showing great discontent with ‘our’ political class and are wondering why whoever we elect still brings the same results for ‘them.’ Which is “no result.”

  3. The arrival of the pejorative idiom “political correctness” coincided with the Clinton presidency because he had been a Southern Governor who could be vulnerable for betraying the deep-rooted prejudices of his native Arkansas. Bill was not only a highly competent president, but also a brilliant communicator with all levels of American society. Consequently, the Republican Congress immediately unleashed their favorite disgraceful tactic (e.g. google their “Peanutgate” attack on Pres. Carter) of relentless fraudulent investigations into the Clintons’ former Whitewater business operations appointing rabid Clinton hater Ken Starr to lead the witch hunt. Of course, Starr spent many years and millions only to find nothing to prosecute, yet he was there as a ready-made attack-dog when the Monica Lewinsky affair became public toward the end of Clinton’s presidency.

    So, during these years when their Whitewater witch hunt was being derided as a fizzer, the Republicans Plan B was to attack the Clintons for their emphasis on raising public awareness of the civil rights and sensitivities of groups facing a plethora of discriminations. “It is a diabolical plot to destroy our Constitutional guarantees to Freedom of Speech and Religion”, thundered FoxNews, Rush Limbaugh, and the newly powerful rightwing online bloggers. And this great evil they labeled “political correctness.”

    So, right on cue the Republicans nominated Texas Gov. W. Bush (sold as a “compassionate conservative”) who had mastered the fine art of folksy dog whistling in both English and Spanish to camouflage all manner of bigoted ideas and neocon policies detrimental to minority groups. Vice President Gore was caricatured as the fiendishly politically correct candidate who nobody would ever want to have a beer with because he’d stifle your freedom of speech.

    Having observed how highly profitable the phony assault on “political correctness” had been for FoxNews, other megacorporate 24 hour infotainment networks decided if you can’t beat them, join them. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Scarborough (a former Republican Congressman) still runs a promotional advert in which he vociferates against “political correctness gone mad”. CNN has since become so terrified of being seen as politically correct that it hired Trump’s ex-campaign manager as an election analyst within hours of his resignation from the campaign (this week he dumped CNN and returned to the cabal in Trump Tower).

    The only other widely employed negative term which has been cooked up by the fanatical right-wingers to undermine Australia’s fair-go society is “nanny state”. This is hurled against any or all government attempts to foster equity, mutual respect and civil discourse.

  4. Victoria … well put, as always. Like you, I see “Political Correctness” as just being another term to describe “being polite” to another and having empathy and, yes, putting the “Golden Rule” into practice. And I do consider it a “Golden Rule” even though I am not at all religious either. Good show all around. AND I am as confused by the “Trump Event” in the US as many another is. Basically good people being led astray … hopefully temporarily.

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