The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

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The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Guest on Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:18 pm

Joan E. Cashin is a professor at Ohio State University. A version of this article originally appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.





The phrase “political correctness” seems to revive during every Presidential campaign, although it never really went away. The slogan dates from the 1930s, when Communists in the western world disagreed over Stalin’s non-aggression pact with Hitler; supporters and critics of Stalin’s policy all claimed to be “politically correct.” In the 1970s and 1980s, as I recall, academics used it sarcastically to mean “everyone who agrees with me.”


Then New York magazine gave it new life in 1991 when it reported a dispute at Harvard University between Professor Stephan Thernstrom and some undergraduates in his class. Thernstrom, a specialist in American history, was a high-profile conservative, and he made comments about race that some students objected to—that is all. The story was filled with inaccuracies, but it served its purpose. The national press blew it up into a national trend, and conservatives portrayed “political correctness” as a frightening trend, in which spoiled, demanding minorities persecuted well-meaning academics. The original target was a white man, but soon conservatives began to assume that all faculty are under attack.


This has not in fact been true for professors in most universities. When the story broke, my colleagues across the country asked each other in bewilderment, is this happening where you teach? Has this ever happened to you? No, to both questions, every time. The work of teaching is more important, and more dignified, than some critics understand; it is not political in the way that they assume. The university exists so knowledge can be created and passed on to the next generation, and an atmosphere of civility must be maintained so that learning can take place. Civility does not preclude spirited debate or vigorous discussion; that was true long before the 1990s. At the absolute minimum, that means no screaming, name-calling, or insults based on race, ethnicity, or gender.


Teaching is a serious responsibility, and most faculty take it seriously, as part of an ancient, honorable tradition. There is a timeless quality to it, as every professor knows. The faculty are not blown about by every political wind or every intellectual fad. Professors in every field undergo long years of apprenticeship, and they must master a large body of scholarship before they even join the faculty. People on the extreme left or extreme right usually quit graduate school because the complexities of human experience do not fit easily into their way of seeing the world.


When I teach an undergraduate course on the Civil War era, I am drawing on a vast literature created by hundreds of scholars over the years. In the space of one semester, I can cover only a fraction of that literature, so I have to choose carefully. I could teach an entire course on the Election of 1860, but I usually cover it in one lecture of an hour and twenty minutes—the candidates, the issues, the party platforms, the campaign, voter turnout. Most of my students have heard of the winner, Abraham Lincoln, but few of them recognize the names of the other candidates, Stephen Douglas, John Breckinridge, and John Bell, and many do not know the chief issue at stake, the expansion of slavery into the trans-Mississippi West. They need to know that, since the contest in 1860 is the most significant election of the nineteenth century; the country broke up in the aftermath. This straight-forward, factual political history is not “political” in the way that many critics believe, but part of the knowledge transmission that is essential to a functioning democracy.


The accusation of “political correctness” is now routinely hurled by people who have never taught at a university, and even worse, who do not accept the university’s purpose. In a supreme irony, the phrase substitutes for actual thinking, and it represents a failure of citizenship on the part of the accusers. Just as important, the accusation rejects the idea that everyone should be treated with civility in the classroom and outside of it. The phrase is indeed political, in the broadest possible sense. The claim of “political correctness” as it is now defined represents an assault on knowledge, on cognition, and on democracy itself.





- See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/165076#sthash.jPKCoB9v.dpuf

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Lord Foul on Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:37 pm

I KEEP telling you.....


Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end!

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Original Quill on Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:54 pm

PC is just a relative term, like terrorism or spamming. Every time someone espouses something with the verb 'should' or 'could', or any value term, s/he is stating some correctness or other. So political correctness can apply to anything.

In the past twenty years it has taken on a derogatory meaning, as a backlash sets in. But the fact is, it's only from the speaker's viewpoint. Oh stop being so pc...it makes me sick...is something heard a lot today.

Because the term politically correct has taken on a reactive meaning, it is usually aimed at new, or leftward values. A cry of make the earth green again is generally seen as politically correct; but take another value--pay your bills on time--it is an old world value and hence not politically correct.

But the fact is, it can be used anytime to accuse someone of being flighty or frivolous...or worse. All relative terms are like that. Who is a terrorist? The kkk, or ISIS? Who is an extemist? The left or the right? Same, same...

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Eilzel on Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:57 am

I hate the term. It is a tool used to try and shout down people who champion equality and by some who think by 'being un PC' they are being tough and somehow anti-establishment.

What being PC really seems to be imo (as it is used today) is just being respectful of different sections of society. Incidentally, it is entirely possible to be illiberal in a way that is still respectful. It just seems many such people we know are incapable of being both.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Raggamuffin on Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:23 am

Eilzel wrote:I hate the term. It is a tool used to try and shout down people who champion equality and by some who think by 'being un PC' they are being tough and somehow anti-establishment.

What being PC really seems to be imo (as it is used today) is just being respectful of different sections of society. Incidentally, it is entirely possible to be illiberal in a way that is still respectful. It just seems many such people we know are incapable of being both.

I agree with that generally. Being unPC can just mean being inconsiderate and quite rude. However, some people are unPC by accident because they don't know the "acceptable" terms which they should use - not surprising these days because it all changes so fast.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Eilzel on Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:18 pm

If it's a genuine accident I tend not to mind. But yeah, for some it's very concious and unpleasant.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Syl on Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:45 pm

I agree with Rags and Eilzel.
Using the term un pc is like freely using the term racist, or conspiracy theorist....its a way to keep people in the Stepford zone.

The benchmark for all normal decent people is to consider others worthy of kindness and respect and act accordingly.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Fred Moletrousers on Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:00 pm

Raggamuffin wrote:
Eilzel wrote:I hate the term. It is a tool used to try and shout down people who champion equality and by some who think by 'being un PC' they are being tough and somehow anti-establishment.

What being PC really seems to be imo (as it is used today) is just being respectful of different sections of society. Incidentally, it is entirely possible to be illiberal in a way that is still respectful. It just seems many such people we know are incapable of being both.

I agree with that generally. Being unPC can just mean being inconsiderate and quite rude. However, some people are unPC by accident because they don't know the "acceptable" terms which they should use - not surprising these days because it all changes so fast.

Or perhaps they do know the so-called "acceptable terms" but choose to continue using them because the refuse to bow to the diktats of the generally self-appointed arbiters of political correctness.
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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Syl on Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:03 pm

Why would anyone deliberately continue to use words or names that are now considered offensive though?

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Guest on Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:05 pm

PC can be taken too far, but basically it's just good manners and taking the feeling of others into consideration. It gets out of control when people in authority try and second guess what will offend people, most of the time it doesn't.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Syl on Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:15 pm

I have been informed this week that someone  who works in a primary school has been told to not say Happy Easter to the children, but happy spring break.

I have also learned that Muslim women are objecting to Valentines day because it demeans women in some way.

When I asked where this news came from, I was informed it came from a friend of a friend and the Valentines story was on the news.

I suggested that it was a load of tosh.


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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Original Quill on Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:06 pm

Interesting since the myth of Ester (bird becomes rabbit becomes constellation Lupus) pre-dates Christianity, and involves Zeus and Ester.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Raggamuffin on Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:08 pm

Fred Moletrousers wrote:
Raggamuffin wrote:

I agree with that generally. Being unPC can just mean being inconsiderate and quite rude. However, some people are unPC by accident because they don't know the "acceptable" terms which they should use - not surprising these days because it all changes so fast.

Or perhaps they do know the so-called "acceptable terms" but choose to continue using them because the refuse to bow to the diktats of the generally self-appointed arbiters of political correctness.

Yes, I agree. However, I think there are some words or phrases which are just not on, and even the most rebellious anti-PC person should perhaps think about what they're saying.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Ben Mothafuckin' Reilly on Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:18 pm

I think people are generally pretty reasonable. Trump says things like:

"People don't know how well we're doing with the Hispanics, the Latinos."

"I have a great relationship with the blacks. I've always had a great relationship with the blacks."

"I love the Muslims. I think they're great people."

"Ask the gays what they think and what they do."

"I will be phenomenal to the women."

People have noted that it's a bit weird to use the word "the" in front of any group that doesn't describe Trump, but he hasn't faced a great deal of backlash as he might have if he used more intolerant terminology.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Original Quill on Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:29 pm

Trump has the 'we-they' distinction so ingrained in his thinking that he doesn't even realize that he is conceptualizing that way.

Adrian Furnham wrote:Authoritarians are nearly always ethnocentric in that they have a certain, simple and unshakable belief in the superiority of their own racial, cultural and ethnic group with a powerful disdain for all those in other groups. This can easily lead to brutality, aggression and naked open prejudice.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201502/the-mind-the-authoritarian

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by eddie on Sat Feb 18, 2017 7:02 pm

sassy wrote:PC can be taken too far, but basically it's just good manners and taking the feeling of others into consideration.   It gets out of control when people in authority try and second guess what will offend people, most of the time it doesn't.

I'd agree with all of that.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of “Political Correctness”

Post by Vicar of Dibley (vod) on Sat Feb 18, 2017 8:40 pm

Raggamuffin wrote:
Fred Moletrousers wrote:

Or perhaps they do know the so-called "acceptable terms" but choose to continue using them because the refuse to bow to the diktats of the generally self-appointed arbiters of political correctness.

Yes, I agree. However, I think there are some words or phrases which are just not on, and even the most rebellious anti-PC person should perhaps think about what they're saying.

agree
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