Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
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Mon Apr 10, 2017 at 08:49:35 AM EST
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it?

After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417
I thought about what he explained about the Right's hijacking of this term, and thought we all need to use plainer language in our discussions to get to the heart of what the main issue is with "political correctness". It seems to me what we're really talking about is "respect for others," and "respecting the feelings and dignity of others."  

Here's Chip's lead statement on political correctness--a good place to begin:
"The term "Political Correctness" was hijacked by right-wing ideologues in the late 1980s to trivialize and disparage concern for basic human rights for people whose race, gender, ability, size, or other attributes were inconsistent with the norms established by straight, White, Christian men."

Well said, but for simpler folks, on the right, to understand this term, isn't the core issue here really one of "simple respect for the dignity and feelings of others"?  Should that be wrong? Is it wrong for the Left to teach or "inculcate" this kind of "awareness of and respect for the feelings of others"?  

Let's explicitly translate this term every time we hear or encounter it, so that all understand what it really refers to.

I think those on the Right might understand it better if it's put into clearer, less esoteric, less ambiguous language.    




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Political Correctness was based on linguistic anthropology and some rather sound science - that by changing the language around an issue (or people), you could change the thinking as well.  It has been shown to have some validity, although it has a major weakness - euphemisms and the resistance of bigots to treating people (living things in general) decently (it also applies to concepts such as law, rules, and so on) - that resistance is due to power relations which I'll get into a bit further.  The connection between language and thought is very powerful and what was tried was to work backward - instead of thoughts leading to language use, changing language use was hoped (and it does work to a degree) to change thought.

The conservatives caught wind of what was going on, and it IS a very real threat to their power and hegemony.  Thus they worked to counter it, by hijacking the term and working to turn it on it's head.  They also misuse the science - starting with "Tax and Spend Liberal" lie decades ago, I believe.  Their attempts to misuse the science is connected to propaganda and "the Big Lie" idea.  All are based on the connection between language and thought.

I applaud where you're trying to go, but I also know that the attempt will be countered with something along the lines of "respecting our feelings by not speaking of (for instance) LGBT people in a decent light!"  Being more respectful towards people in general is always a good idea, but... it can backfire quickly with the wrong people.  It's like I tell people about compromising - if people win their freedom and then they're told they have to compromise with their ex-masters regarding their freedom, they just lost it.  Many of the people we oppose have the same mindset as 'masters' would towards ex-slaves - no holds barred, take no captives, win at all costs, no compromise or 'tolerance'.

Another way to look at it is power relations.  Political correctness was created to try to break down some of the stratification between groups - white straight male Christians on top in this country, and everyone else below them.  It REALLY threatened that structure and that's why you hear such a fuss against it from the bigots.  The thing is, they EXPECT respect from those under them, but are not willing to return it.  Political correctness specifically tried to counter that.

For the ones in power, respect towards minorities may need to be coerced.  For the ones out of power, demanding that they respect those who abused them before is a reinforcement of the previous status quo - the way things were, which must end.

I hope this helps you to understand.  It's not as simple as it may seem.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Apr 10, 2017 at 10:14:13 PM EST


Hi Bob!  Please see the comment I just now posted here.

by Diane Vera on Sat Apr 15, 2017 at 09:21:16 PM EST

What do you think of the term "inclusive language" in lieu of "political correctness"?  Being inclusive is the point, after all.

by Diane Vera on Sat Apr 15, 2017 at 09:23:11 PM EST
I think I would agree, although such inclusion is anathema to the people we struggle against and resist.

I did reply in the other thread...


by ArchaeoBob on Mon Apr 17, 2017 at 10:48:49 PM EST
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Reading your articles, I feel like I'm getting smarter, thanks, you write very interesting, and more importantly, on very interesting topics 192.168.l.l

by lukenlow on Thu Dec 07, 2017 at 07:57:35 AM EST


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