got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. It causes us to lie
silently instead of saying what we think.”
been widespread condemnation, from across the political spectrum, of Donald
Trump’s latest outlandish suggestion of barring all Muslims who are not US
citizens from entering the United States. This is not the first time he has
tread heavily into the territory of race, religion and ethnicity. Mr. Trump
launched his campaign pronouncing that all Mexican immigrants were rapists and
drug dealers and should be shipped back to Mexico. Since then he also has
offended women, blacks, news anchors, the wider Hispanic diaspora, and the list
read many social media posts and news articles dismissing Trump
as “un-American” and as someone who does not reflect American values. Yet,
Mr. Trump’s poll numbers and popularity have remained largely unaffected and
his support continues to grow. A recent poll indicated that 68% of his Republican
base would support him if he ran as an independent (Source: USA Today) and he has 37%
easy but would be dangerous to dismiss Mr. Trump and his passionate band of
followers as crazy right-wing republicans and white supremacist bigots. Or to consider
them a passing anomaly that has nothing to do with the growing fears and frustration
of a large percentage of the American’s. I have heard journalists like Lou
Dobbs and Sean Hannity try to argue the merits of some of Mr. Trump’s
assertions, and I suspect that fears about Islam, terrorism and immigration are
main stream, even if the hate rests in the fringes. It is just that the
majority of people are too scared to express even reasonable views freely for
fear of offending someone and being branded a racist.
I am not
suggesting that we seriously consider any of Mr. Trumps’ proposals, but to
simply dismiss them and the fears of a growing number of Americans would be far
more dangerous. If we do, these frustrations will only continue to fester, turn
to deeper anger, and come out in even uglier ways. The question we need to ask
ourselves is why does Donald Trump exist as a political force?
part reality TV star, part American dream, part frustration
with politicians and lack of leadership, and part a product of political
correctness gone awry. Trump is a cancer built from all the problems we have
swept under our carpets for far too long in an attempt to create something resembling
a society where nobody is ever offended.
about the fact that his greatest appeal is that he says, does, and sounds like most normal people do; like your politically incorrect grandfather,
father and uncle. He routinely makes gaffs, says dumb
things, lashes out in anger, but never does he come across as
scripted or disingenuous politician trying to sound politically correct and
thus totally unnatural.
I am sure
that political correctness, when it started on college campuses a few decades
ago, was well-intentioned and genuinely meant to educate us, make us more aware
and sensitive to other people. It was meant to help us become accepting of
other beliefs, faiths and cultures. But today it seems to have become about
trying to mould everyone into thinking, sounding and saying the same things. It
has become the default weapon to shut down all alternate world views and is
being used to prevent people from speaking their minds.
is that we all do and say stupid things and we all have prejudices and biases. We always have and we always will; that is part of being human. Today, it
feels like political correctness (PC) in America has metastasised into a way to
chastise anyone and everyone who does not fit some random litmus test. But all
we are succeeding in doing is shutting down alternate viewpoints and muzzling people
who do not think the same way, or agree with our views. It is this avatar of PC
that is in large part responsible for creating and unleashing the monster we
now call Donald Trump.
This is a
very dangerous thing in a democracy that claims to value freedom of thought and
speech above all else. Because freedom of speech also means allowing people who
view the world differently to air their views, no matter how offensive, hurtful
or heinous we might find them to be.
everybody thinks the same way about homosexuality, global warming or taxation. However,
there is a stark difference between someone who spreads hate and someone who simply
disagrees; and not all disagreement is rooted in hatred. We need to start making those distinctions and respectfully disagree with people,
but not try to muzzle or force them to change their views by shaming them.
Instead, we need to show people a better way through our actions; that is the only
way you to change someone’s mind and long-held beliefs.
to make sure that the mainstream voice is more powerful and thus drowns out the
hate. Think about the fact that there are still many Nazi sympathisers and
active members of KKK, but the power of the mainstream has driven them into the
wilderness, and made sure they stay ostracised and in the fringes of society.
to accept that everyone lies, fibs and says things that are sexist, racist, and
homophobic. This does not make you a liar, racist, misogynist or a homophobe.
We are human and will never be perfectly polite or politically correct because
part of being human is doing and saying dumb and hurtful things – sometimes in
anger, sometimes out of frustration or pain and very often in a misguided attempt
to be funny.
I do not
want to live in a world that is so superficial and forcibly sanitised, that we
have to worry about everything we do and say. If we continue down this
obsessively political correct path, all we will
achieve is to alienate friends and family, and fuel the hatemongers even more.
One day we will wake up to find that we have stopped independent thought, free
speech, social experimentation and personal growth.
greatest ability, as humans, is not to be perfect in everything we say, do,
feel and think, but to learn and change, after
we have been shown a better way by others.