I was politically correct long before that term was ever coined. Since childhood I believed that everyone should be treated without prejudice regardless of their skin color, their place or birth or their culture – I believed that men and women should be treated equally – I believed that everyone should have the same opportunity and that the primary determining factor for outcome should be talent, merit and hard work – I believed that everyone should be entitled to their own belief system without fear of violence or political oppression – I believed that the political system should be viewed in terms of ideas rather than personalities – I believed that actually BEING truthful and honorable were more important than APPEARING truthful and honorable – I believed that civility and respect was part of the price that we should pay for democracy.
As the term “politically correct” emerged in the early to mid 1980′s, I was first surprised and then horrified to watch it be transmogrified into something completely different than my beliefs. Before the emergence of the “politically correct” Nazis, I would find myself having to ask those telling racist jokes not to do so, or at least not within my earshot. I faced consequences for making that request including being fired from a job. Today, we have wandered so far away from the basic concepts of reasonable behavior that I truly could not tell you today’s “rules.” I grinned yesterday as I eavesdropped on a number of moms and dads at a softball game explain why it was OK for some of them to tell racist Mexican jokes because they were either Mexican or married to someone from Mexico whereas their friend from Cuba could tell a Latino joke but not a joke about Mexicans. Really? Racist behavior isn’t universally racist? Try explaining that messed up logic to your kids in any rational way.
Don’t even get me started on “tolerance” or “civility” which have evidently come to mean agreeing with the current belief system of the poltically correct Nazi in your particular neighborhood instead of any resemblance to their dictionary definition. It is a real minefield to make any generalization about anyone or anything which I would be OK with if it was universally enforced but its not. Best as I can figure it you are politically correct if you mock fat white male Southern Christians but that’s about it. Since I am four of those five things, I have a problem with that. Once again, I have a problem explaining to my kids why some people think that it is OK to mock Christian views while Christians are “intolerant” for having a belief system. I have trouble seeing the logic there. This hurdle is not impossible to bridge with civility and respect – one of my law partners and I have very different poltical views on just about everything, yet we are able to talk about everything and respect each other’s very different views. I think that is the way it should be.
Part of the problem is that our laws and views have not kept pace with our technology. Our founding fathers lived in a time when thoughts and ideas took weeks, months and years to spread. That pace led to reflection and thoughtfulness. Our founding fathers lived in a time when you knew your neighbors for most of your life. That led to civility and courtesy. Our founding fathers lived in a largely homogeneous world where religious and philosophical differences were minor tweaks and not completely different world views. That allowed them to avoid many of the issues that we face today.
I might be wrong, but I think that if you really look behind the words that the vast majority of all Americans are using, they are searching for a civil, fair, tolerant and honorable society in which actions and not perceptions carry the day – they just don’t know how to get from here to there. I think it will work the same way that real political correctness emerged before it was stolen by the PC Nazis – one person at a time listening to their neighbor and treating them with respect.