Political Correctness is an elusive, ill-defined term but that hasn’t stopped it from being used everywhere. PC has gone mad so many times, it’s basically Gary Busey on PCP. And quite like Gary Busey it’s everywhere even though no one seems to like it or know what it really is. It’s true. I don’t ever see anyone sticking up for political correctness. Isn’t that odd? Usually when something is “controversial”, I assume there are 2 sides to the issue. This is a world where people defend Charlie Sheen, Martin Shkrelli and Milo Yiannopolous (I’ll get to him later). Sure, there are people who defend things deemed to be PC (calling out racism, misogyny etc.) but nary do I see someone taking up arms to defend the umbrella term: “political correctness”.
Last year, overly reactionary Internet types managed to make political correctness synonymous with overly-sensitive snowflakes. They have yet to define political correctness in any meaningful way other than “makes me angry on the Internet”. So, as a “cuck-mangina snowflake libtard Sjew regressive Marxist Soros-shilling virtue-signalling feminazi”, I’m happy to do the research they won’t.
What does Political Correctness even mean?
As mentioned earlier no one seems to have a concrete handle on what PC is. It’s a fuzzy old word that gets tossed around more than your mum at an inter-species gangbang (Sorry about that, I’ve been trawling the nasty bits of the Internet too much and the self-righteous seething teenage angst is rubbing off on me).
Political correctness, far as I can tell from its current usage, is just anything left-wing that people don’t like. Pretty much all of 3rd wave feminism is classed as politically correct nonsense if the “new right” are to be believed. Side-note: Many make a concession for 1st and 2nd wave feminism, though. I find this odd as 2nd and 1st wave feminism were far more extreme than its modern intersectional counterpart. They also can’t agree on whether its too extreme or too banal.
You’ll see this same dynamic play out with every single rights movement: gay, transgender and in some corners of the net even human rights (looking at you stormfront). Everything the right-wingers don’t like is PC nonsense that’s gone too far. “Political correctness gone mad!”, “It’s PC gone spastic like a drugged up retard!”.
The irony of this whole thing is that these are usually the people who call any attempt at more inclusive language ‘Orwellian’. Then, in the same breath will attempt to characterise “Black Lives Matter” as hate group. “How dare they be angry about the disproportionate amount of police shootings targeted at their race! GRRRR!!!”
Which brings us to…
Why it’s useless as a concept
Here’s my take on this issue: PC can be described as an ‘exonym’. It’s a word that describes the citizenry of some other land in a way that they would not describe themselves. Which is fitting, because attacks on this same straw-man concept are often championed by people very fond of discriminatory slurs towards outsiders. Furthermore, since it’s a word the user is utilising to prescribe qualities onto a group they aren’t part of, any discourse about it is basically reduced an echo chamber of masturbatory, self-serving ideological flatulation.
Furthermore, the anti-PC movement has no concrete ideology. They have vague ideas of how things “should be” but no logic to carry anyone there. Like with most ideologies that fizzle out it has no real direction its heading down. So far, the only concrete actions the movement takes is bullying people on Twitter. No wonder they idolise Trump. For all their #Alllivesmatter nonsense, they happen to have done very little to show respect for all lives. A quick look at who coopted the movement doesn’t do much to improve things either (HINT: NAZIS!!!).
Anyone in the world can argue how things “should be”. What matters is reasoning out why that’s the ideal state of being for everyone. A movement without a concrete vision has about as much relevance as occupy Wall Street. Anti-PC proponents fetishise a narrow concept of freedom of speech while shutting out dissenting voices by dog-piling them with childish insults and bitching about “the left” in their own circles. It’s sad that this is what passes for political discourse these days. No wonder we’re buggered. Just try and post a negative comment about Trump to the Donald reddit. Go ahead. You’ll be banned in 5 seconds. There goes the “says it like it is” free speech crowd. Apparently, “says it like it is” actually means “acts as an avatar for my innate prejudices”.
The other idea behind it is “keeping the left in check”. The assumption being we’ve all gone bonkers and imposed sanctions on the rights of others. This stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what freedom of speech is: Freedom of speech protects against government control of speech. At the same time, criticism of someone else’s speech is a function of freedom of speech not a totalitarian method of censorship.
And that gets us to the crux of the whole issue. Everything in the whole Anti-PC camp screams of entitlement towards saying horrid things but without the consequences of saying them. That is, up until Milo Yiannopolous says kiddy fiddling is just grand. And then that’s a step too far. He seemed like such a nice guy when he was yelling at Muslims and Black People and victims of abuse. Who knew he had such a dark side (If I sarcasm any harder I my eyes might just roll out of my skull).
Not that that was the first sign of hypocrisy. It’s not like the right-wing doesn’t have its own forms of political correctness. God forbid anyone says happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas and Fox news busts out their war on Christmas expert for in-depth forensic analysis on how Santa Claus is being molested by inclusivity. This, they can say in a country where the Christmas lights go up 3 months in advance.
And heaven forbid anyone ever say that black lives matter without it being corrected with an annoying #alllivesmatter. Fuck you and fuck your disingenuous hashtag. You didn’t give a shit about all lives when children get gunned down in the street for playing with toys, you certainly don’t get to air your sanctimonious slogan of faux-inclusivity and then outrage and cry “why are black people getting special treatment?”. If that’s not a form of political correctness, then I don’t know what is. It just isn’t titled that because the phrase has been coopted by the Internet man-baby brigade (and yes they are almost all men, #Notallmenbutjustenough).
So, again we’re seeing another talking point fall apart. It smacks of “freedom of speech, but on my terms”. Which begs the question:
What’s the Endgame here?
This is where I might lose some people but that is perhaps the point of this section. It’s an uncomfortable truth that many may not want to accept. It requires for us to get past our individual blindspots (and if that were easy, they wouldn’t be called blindspots). The anti-political correctness movement exists to preserve the dominant paradigm or power structure of any society in operates in.
The thing about the movement is that its proponents are pretending as if they are the taking up arms against the establishment. What they don’t realise is that they are fulfilling the propaganda of the ruling class/ dominant superstructure/ whatever you call the people who control the dominant paradigm. Find the group the anti-political correctness movement in your country never attacks, and you will have identified the ruling class.
In America it would be straight, white men. In Saudi Arabia its Sunni Muslims. In Russia it’s straight Slavic men etc. and so on. This is perhaps the most insidious aspect of the movement and why it was coopted so easily by Nationalists. It smacks of the automatic preservation of whatever hegemony already exists in the country.
Does anyone even wonder why the purpose of the anti-PC movement is to turn any conversation about feminism into one where women are the oppressors. Or any conversation about gay rights into one where straight men are the constrained ones. It’s all a show of why populist, identity politics is the core of the anti-PC, neo-reactionary tribalism that’s infected the world.
Of course, this is the message they’re sending, whether they want to or not. These people eventually, whether consciously or unconsciously act as the moderate enablers of white nationalists, the EDL, the KKK and many other extremist groups. If you don’t believe me, just see how many actual fascists followed Milo’s work and retweeted his nonsense, how many white supremacists are now using the word “Cultural Marxism” to decry anything they don’t like.
They are perfectly happy to bitch and moan about “Islamic terror” but will shrug and call any instance of right-wing terrorism an “isolated incident from a lone wolf”. This is despite right-wing terror being labeled a bigger threat than “Islamic terror”. Even the fact that they’ve managed to relabel it “Islamic terror” has a hint of xenophobia to it. They’ve managed to include the name of a religion/ social class into a category of terrorism because they weren’t content with just calling it “religious terrorism”. Dylann Roof on the other hand, was given no such title, even though he explicitly murdered on those same terms as a Christian. I mean, I don’t see much enthusiasm for insisting the president call the Charleston shooting an act of “Radical Christian Terrorism”.
Similarly, right wing outlets like Breitbart can create an entire section on their webpage for “Black Crime”. This leads to a language of mistrust where the dominant class are referred to in different terms. Anytime a Black person commits a crime they are “thugs” who got the idea from rap music or had terrible upbringings or “their father abandoned them” because that’s what black fathers do, according to the stereotype. Whereas, any school shooters gets to be portrayed as a once in a blue moon, mentally handicapped kid who was off his rocker. The underlying assumption being that the culture of the dominant class can never be at fault. Because, perhaps, that might mean having to look in the mirror. And we can’t have that, can we?
Am I grasping at straws? Well, maybe we can see that dynamic playing out here, where Fox News’ John Gibson blames a shooting on “hip hop” culture, then finds out the shooter was white and not a hip hop fan and even then follows it up with a hilariously racist comment implying that white shooters are better because they kill themselves. Or perhaps Charlie Brooker can explain it better by analysing news footage about the Haitian earthquake:
I must concede that I might be overplaying the importance of language (after all, I am a writer and that might be my bias). It can’t be denied, however, that the Internet has cheapened political discourse. They’ve created a situation where, while everyone agrees racism and bigotry and xenophobia are bad, yet nothing is ever acknowledged as bigoted or hateful or xenophobic. They keep shifting the goalposts and pushing the centre more rightwards by insisting that there’s nothing bigoted about Donald Trump or Milo Yianopolous. Which is why the “new right” serve as the moderate wing of the “far right”, giving them credibility by never denouncing their actions fully, while playing off legitimate movements like BLM as racist.
Why? Because the far right movements aren’t asking them to take stock of the society they’re helping propagate. Because the far right play into the Internet’s love of evading responsibility through faux-rationalism whilst propagating an identity politics that mocks other identities for legitimate grievances. Because at some point, we all confused blanket cynicism for intelligence. They don’t actually feel encumbered by anything being said or done by the far-right (yet). Till that happens, expect no resistance. If you wonder how so many republicans can put up with Trump, this is why.
“Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy”
An amazing history of the term and its eventual transformation into a one-size fits all strawman. Incisively written and reasoned. A dose of History with a delivery of context for where we are at this point
Another Good Read: “A linguist explains how the far-right hijacked political correctness” by Quartz