Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Social Issues09 Sep 2017 04:53 pm

The original seeds of Political Correctness stemmed from a desire to avoid making blanket prejudicial statements, in which people were over identified with an aspect, feature or attitude that they possessed. The goal of this sensitivity was to highlight how complex and unique individuals are and to avoid pigeonholing people into powerful and often negative stereotypes.

Instead of identifying a someone solely as a handicapped person, they became a person with a handicap. Likewise a person could be one who tells lies as opposed to a liar, or a person who struggles with addiction or has stolen things rather than being labeled an addict, thief or criminal. The politically correct appellations were more descriptions than absolute labels. They allowed the person being described to have other attributes, and also allowed for them to make changes and improvements such as rehabilitation or recovery. A person with autism, addictions, or has depression is quite different then labeling someone as autistic, an addict or depressed.

Much was gained in the descriptions for both speaker and the person being spoken about. The speaker was able to identify qualities of a person without sounding or being prejudiced or biased. The descriptions and politically correct language allowed us to appreciate and celebrate differences as well as name and identify undesirable characteristics without being overly harsh or close minded.

The person being spoken about was able to see themselves as more than a label. In this manner their dignity and worth were restored, and in many cases they were able to use the attribute as a way of becoming a part of a community often with a sense of pride. The autism spectrum, addictions and many factions of the mental health community have become opportunities for not only acceptance and understanding from those outside of the community, but often a source of connection with those who share their experience and way of being in the world.

In an effort to reduce and remove all forms of hatred from society a movement inside the desire to be sensitive and politically correct began to try to purge and replace any language which promoted or was saturated with prejudice and intolerance. Ethnic and racial hatred was found to be housed in many cultural and racial slurs. My being Italian I was familiar with the derogatory slang terms such as “dago”, “wop” or the modern day “Guido” which so happens to be my actual last name. While ethnic slurs and slangs were able to be replaced with more formal terms such as Italian, Jew, or Mexican other terms were harder to find non-offensive alternatives.

Yet, soon the desire to avoid stigmatized and hate ridden language became obsessive and extreme. Descriptors were often discarded and replaced with euphemisms or vague if not misleading terminology. The stigma of the “n word”, or “retard” was not and cannot be removed by language alone. The attitude infuses the word with meaning, and while a word may be contaminated over time with how it is used, any new word will suffer the same fate if the underlying hatred is not addressed.

My friends “of color” never had trouble, and usually preferred my use of the term blacks as opposed to African Americans. First of all the term African American is both inaccurate and a form of prejudice in that I am assuming the black person I am meeting is both of African descent and is American. Yet, what about those who identify more as a member of an island culture or happen to be born in another of the 100 or so lands in which blacks happen to be born. Calling someone “a person of color” is also extremely vague and racially biased because we are generally referring to specific shades of color. We are  indirectly insulting many people by insinuating that they aren’t people of color. Everyone has color whether that be beige, white, pink, red, yellow, brown or black, and to say someone is a person of color is either a euphemism or code word for a particular color or shade range.

I think it is absurd to think that using the term black is inherently racist, or derogatory. It is descriptive and far more accurate. Likewise I always found it strange to replace the term oriental with Asian. The Orient and Asia are both geographical terms. Yet, when one speaks of someone looking Asian they are usually referring to someone whose heritage is found in the Orient. If I told a sketch artist that the person I saw was Asian, they would most certainly draw someone with characteristics from the Orient, and not a person from India or Pakistan which are from Asia and number in the billions of people.

Likewise I do not believe that referring to the mentally challenged as “special” removes the stigma, those who are mean and insulting to the mentally handicapped do not change their prejudice because he word has changed. While calling someone “retarded” is a slur like calling me a “wop”, saying that someone has mental retardation is more descriptively accurate than designating them as “special”.

Saying someone suffers from depression is a description of a way a certain population reacts to and responds to their experiences. Likewise mental retardation stripped of its stigma just refers to the fact that the neurology of a person with this condition processes information at a slower rate and that their cognitive abilities fall below the average. I have been a tutor of a number of people with neurological and processing conditions including Autism Spectrum and Downs Syndrome, and have not felt that any limitations they had make them inferior to those who are “higher functioning”. I have no need to use euphemisms or to be less accurately descriptive because I have found their neurological tendencies and skills have little and in most cased no bearing on their ability to find joy and be good people.

Accurate descriptions of people assist us in appreciating, celebrating, understanding and feeling compassion for the experiences and hurdles of others. While the seeds of Political Correctness started with this noble goal it has in many realms become a purveyor of fantasy, misinformation and even its own form of stigma and prejudice.

Many of the those who used political correctness as a tool to reduce prejudice and increase the level of human understanding and tolerance have become some of the most biased and prejudiced individuals in our culture. The heritage of political correctness was to defend those who were being attacked for being different or the minority. They advocated for the underdog or those ignored or hunted down by the power structures which favor certain groups. They supported those that were attacked, devalued, marginalized, stigmatized and predatorized by others simply due to their race, cultural heritage, disability, gender, religious affiliation or ideology.

In Identity politics we now are insulting and condemning people for what they say, believe or in a growing number of cases what they are perceived to think. Instead of celebrating diversity of opinion we are demanding every one to have the same value system, express themselves with the same terminology, and see the world through the same eyes

Instead of saying someone has made a remark which could be considered racist, or sexist or insensitive to a particular group many of the previously politically correct crowd are labeling people as sexists, racists and bigots. Righteously and aggressively hating the haters has become vogue. People are pigeonholed, judged harshly, harassed and even physically attacked for expressing an opinion which is thought to be biased or holding to an antiquated view of a particular minority group. If a man makes a remark which could be construed as insulting or demeaning to a female he is a sexist, not a person who made a remark which could be perceived as insensitive or insulting.

If a person expresses a desire that their child marry a person of their race, ethnic group or religious affiliation they are often irreversibly labeled a racist or a hater of other groups. The consideration of such viewpoints being a love and pride in one’s heritage is not possible, not even that they are a segregationist, but only that they are racists and haters.

People are being denied preferences, a desire to maintain cultural heritage, free speech and even the right to harbor negative feelings towards any identified group. Those who hate the haters often claim the ability to read minds when those who make both pro and anti statements towards a group state with certainty that the positive statements are lies and the negative sentiments are truth and in fact are a thin veil for their underlying hatred.

In identify politics it is fine to call someone a racist, sexist, Islamaphobe, Nazi, or any other slur if they do not adhere to a very specific political and ideological agenda. Anyone who voted against Obama is a racist, and anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary is a sexist. The Identity Politics narrative often labels any protectionist action or one aimed at preventing Islamic Extremism as racists and Islamaphobic.

Even when laws are passed out of fear and paranoia it might be a bit of stretch to say all proponents are haters and white supremacists. Yet much of the identity politics crowd is engaged in a level of McCarthyism regarding the Russians which matches if not supersedes that of supporters of building a wall and not allowing Arabs into the US.

It is perplexing and disappointing how much of the Identity Politics and Feminists crowd are engaging in prejudice, hatred and intolerance. Tolerance, acceptance and understanding are useless if they are only reserved for certain groups and entities. The original point of political correctness was to promote tolerance and acceptance as a universal which would in and of itself create social harmony.

On a daily basis I hear friends who are consumers of the Identity Politics and popular Feminist narratives call people who are conservative or traditionalists as being “stupid”, “backward” and “ignorant”. All of these terms are expressed with a palpable level of disgust and superiority. This attitude is at the core of exceptionalism. It expresses the idea that people of higher intelligence are inherently better than those who are not, the irony that many of these same people have been vociferous advocates for the mentally handicapped is totally missed. I want to state once again, that I do not feel better than or inferior to others due to their IQ or any other recognized measure of human intelligence.

The self-proclaimed exceptionalism lying at the core of identity politics is the total opposite of tolerance, understanding and the celebration of diversity. Exceptionalism is a form of cultural or ideological eugenics. If one is exceptional all others are inferior, which is actually the very definition and essence of prejudice and bigotry. It shouldn’t be a matter who hates first, or feels the most justified in their anger and righteousness, but rather who has the courage to be devoted to peace, love and understanding. Good people have good intentions, and engage in life affirming behavior, but that doesn’t make them inherently better than their contemporaries.

United in Compassion,

Jim Guido

Trackback this Post | Feed on comments to this Post

Leave a Reply