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Political Correctness is Killing Us-Part One

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.
March 27, 2007

How many times have you wanted to say something but thought better of it? I'm not talking about being polite or executing long held social graces-I am specifically referring to withholding comments because someone might be offended by your words. You knew if you spoke you would be labeled some form of -ist, e.g., racist, sexist, and the like! You quietly bite your tongue and remain "inoffensive", regardless of how offensive the other person's comments are. Join the plurality of Americans who exercise political correctness every single day! According to several of our military leaders, PC is killing us around the world.1 I suggest that it is time to address head-on this polarizing and dangerous social practice.

Let's be clear about the meaning of political correctness. No more "dodging the issue" or pretending that it does not cause harm. Here are a few definitions worth paying attention to:

A trend that wants to make everything fair, equal and just to all by suppressing thought, speech and practice in order to achieve that goal2. Avoidance of expressions or actions that can be perceived to exclude, or marginalize, or insult people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against3. Political correctness (often abbreviated to PC) is a term used to describe language or behavior which is intended, or said to be intended, to provide a minimum of offense, particularly to racial, cultural, or other identity groups. A text that conforms to the alleged ideals of political correctness is said to be politically correct ... Those who use the term in a critical fashion often express a concern about the dilution of freedom of speech, intolerance of language, and the avoidance of a discussion of social problems.

Political correctness has been with us for decades although no one is certain about its origins. For example, Barbara Epstein suggested that it was publicized after the Western Humanities Conference was held back in 19905. This was an interdisciplinary forum entitled "Political Correctness and Cultural Studies" at the University of California at Berkeley. She offered that it was initially a wry joke on the Left that became a rigid standard against which both liberals and conservatives were being measured-by themselves and by each other.

No one knows for sure when PC began and this is not an essay on the origins of political correctness. Can we at least agree that it has seeped into our daily lives as well as our institutions?

Rather than enabling open and complete discussion with regard to important issues today, just the opposite has occurred; regrettably it continues to this day. Many of us understand the dangers of PC behavior. I offer but a few of these dangers for your consideration:

Individuals are constantly censoring their remarks and losing their freedom of speech for fear of PC repression. Do you know what happens when people withhold their concerns, upsets and beliefs over time? Cultural icons long held dear to Americans have come under attack; Santa was barred from a December, 2001, festival in Kennsington, Md because two families objected to the Santa icon-the erosion of cultural values and demonstration of an unwillingness to stand up for what we believe leads America down the proverbial "slippery slope". Professors in our universities are attacked when they express a point of view that differs from left-leaning colleagues; critical analysis is being replaced with uni-directional criticism. In the workplace we see the idea of "diversity" resulting in less qualified individuals being hired while incompetent workers cannot be fired-imagine the erosion in product and service quality during the coming years. Criticism of terrorists, identification of their affiliation has lead to social and legal recriminations-in turn policies have been directed and implemented due to our own fear. This, repeated often enough over the next years, will erode America.

Political correctness disables a democracy and cripples its very nature. Our Western Culture is by design meant to be civilized. This manifests itself by interpersonal respect and our effort to correct injustices. Not only is it our national collective culture to embrace freedom, we have for decades demonstrated tolerance for all points of view as well. We have led the world in supporting the individual rights of all human beings rather than for a select group. Our legal system, once admired by most of the international community, was founded upon Judeo-Christian values and we were proud of this; so seems were millions of others who have flocked to our shores. These values created a culture that has produced economic, educational, and social climates that so many others also desire. However, we seem to be unable to stand up today and withstand the onslaught from our enemies who use political correctness as the divisive verbal weapon it is today.

The U.S.A. is awash with a dangerous and insidious social paradigm: the double standard of social and political will. It is time to address this concern and it will require courage. Our founding fathers would wonder why we did not stand up to the enemies of the democratic paradigm they so cleverly created over 200 years ago. They would be aghast that their names were stricken from the history standards of the New Jersey Department of Education in 2002. They would be understandably angry when middle school students in a California school were allowed to pretend they were warriors fighting for Islam but prevented from praying as a Christian or as a Jew. You can add to this insensitive list of injustices.

The challenge is before us. If one is afraid to pronounce to others what he or she believes to be true, what justice and civilized behavior should look like, it is no wonder that our policy makers become nothing more than a reflection of our fearful beliefs. Although much has been written about this culture of defeatism spurred on by ratcheting up the controlling notion of PC, it is time for us to stand up and declare war upon political correctness. Decisions in the USA and abroad have been made and that are attempting to be made are not only killing citizens but will ultimately leave a culture for our grandchildren that is anything but correct.

Part Two explores strategies for turning the tide of this path.

End Notes
1. General Tom McInerney, Intelligence Summit, St. Petersburg, Fl, March 6, 2007
2. www.google.com/url?sa=X&start=0&oi=define&q=http://www.information-entertainment.com/Politics/polterms.html&usg=__gvJQ1ykcWpvU4u5JMsj0xT4C8I0="www.information-entertainment.com/Politics/polterms.html
3. www.google.com/url?sa=X&start=1&oi=define&q=http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn%3Fs%3Dpolitical+correctness&usg=__OBN0uVEAiF7BlY6gHpXmOj4DM3A="wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
4. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness
5. Epstein, Barbara "My friend and mentor", Slate, June 19,2006

Thank you to my editor, Chana Givon

Viewed on http://writingtw.blogspot.com and http://docstalk.blogspot.com>Political Correctness is Killing Us-Part One

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.
March 27, 2007

How many times have you wanted to say something but thought better of it? I'm not talking about being polite or executing long held social graces-I am specifically referring to withholding comments because someone might be offended by your words. You knew if you spoke you would be labeled some form of -ist, e.g., racist, sexist, and the like! You quietly bite your tongue and remain "inoffensive", regardless of how offensive the other person's comments are. Join the plurality of Americans who exercise political correctness every single day! According to several of our military leaders, PC is killing us around the world.1 I suggest that it is time to address head-on this polarizing and dangerous social practice.

Let's be clear about the meaning of political correctness. No more "dodging the issue" or pretending that it does not cause harm. Here are a few definitions worth paying attention to:

A trend that wants to make everything fair, equal and just to all by suppressing thought, speech and practice in order to achieve that goal2. Avoidance of expressions or actions that can be perceived to exclude, or marginalize, or insult people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against3. Political correctness (often abbreviated to PC) is a term used to describe language or behavior which is intended, or said to be intended, to provide a minimum of offense, particularly to racial, cultural, or other identity groups. A text that conforms to the alleged ideals of political correctness is said to be politically correct ... Those who use the term in a critical fashion often express a concern about the dilution of freedom of speech, intolerance of language, and the avoidance of a discussion of social problems.

Political correctness has been with us for decades although no one is certain about its origins. For example, Barbara Epstein suggested that it was publicized after the Western Humanities Conference was held back in 19905. This was an interdisciplinary forum entitled "Political Correctness and Cultural Studies" at the University of California at Berkeley. She offered that it was initially a wry joke on the Left that became a rigid standard against which both liberals and conservatives were being measured-by themselves and by each other.

No one knows for sure when PC began and this is not an essay on the origins of political correctness. Can we at least agree that it has seeped into our daily lives as well as our institutions?

Rather than enabling open and complete discussion with regard to important issues today, just the opposite has occurred; regrettably it continues to this day. Many of us understand the dangers of PC behavior. I offer but a few of these dangers for your consideration:

Individuals are constantly censoring their remarks and losing their freedom of speech for fear of PC repression. Do you know what happens when people withhold their concerns, upsets and beliefs over time? Cultural icons long held dear to Americans have come under attack; Santa was barred from a December, 2001, festival in Kennsington, Md because two families objected to the Santa icon-the erosion of cultural values and demonstration of an unwillingness to stand up for what we believe leads America down the proverbial "slippery slope". Professors in our universities are attacked when they express a point of view that differs from left-leaning colleagues; critical analysis is being replaced with uni-directional criticism. In the workplace we see the idea of "diversity" resulting in less qualified individuals being hired while incompetent workers cannot be fired-imagine the erosion in product and service quality during the coming years. Criticism of terrorists, identification of their affiliation has lead to social and legal recriminations-in turn policies have been directed and implemented due to our own fear. This, repeated often enough over the next years, will erode America.

Political correctness disables a democracy and cripples its very nature. Our Western Culture is by design meant to be civilized. This manifests itself by interpersonal respect and our effort to correct injustices. Not only is it our national collective culture to embrace freedom, we have for decades demonstrated tolerance for all points of view as well. We have led the world in supporting the individual rights of all human beings rather than for a select group. Our legal system, once admired by most of the international community, was founded upon Judeo-Christian values and we were proud of this; so seems were millions of others who have flocked to our shores. These values created a culture that has produced economic, educational, and social climates that so many others also desire. However, we seem to be unable to stand up today and withstand the onslaught from our enemies who use political correctness as the divisive verbal weapon it is today.

The U.S.A. is awash with a dangerous and insidious social paradigm: the double standard of social and political will. It is time to address this concern and it will require courage. Our founding fathers would wonder why we did not stand up to the enemies of the democratic paradigm they so cleverly created over 200 years ago. They would be aghast that their names were stricken from the history standards of the New Jersey Department of Education in 2002. They would be understandably angry when middle school students in a California school were allowed to pretend they were warriors fighting for Islam but prevented from praying as a Christian or as a Jew. You can add to this insensitive list of injustices.

The challenge is before us. If one is afraid to pronounce to others what he or she believes to be true, what justice and civilized behavior should look like, it is no wonder that our policy makers become nothing more than a reflection of our fearful beliefs. Although much has been written about this culture of defeatism spurred on by ratcheting up the controlling notion of PC, it is time for us to stand up and declare war upon political correctness. Decisions in the USA and abroad have been made and that are attempting to be made are not only killing citizens but will ultimately leave a culture for our grandchildren that is anything but correct.

Part Two explores strategies for turning the tide of this path.

End Notes
1. General Tom McInerney, Intelligence Summit, St. Petersburg, Fl, March 6, 2007
2. www.google.com/url?sa=X&start=0&oi=define&q=http://www.information-entertainment.com/Politics/polterms.html&usg=__gvJQ1ykcWpvU4u5JMsj0xT4C8I0="www.information-entertainment.com/Politics/polterms.html
3. www.google.com/url?sa=X&start=1&oi=define&q=http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn%3Fs%3Dpolitical+correctness&usg=__OBN0uVEAiF7BlY6gHpXmOj4DM3A="wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
4. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness
5. Epstein, Barbara "My friend and mentor", Slate, June 19,2006

Thank you to my editor, Chana Givon

Viewed on http://writingtw.blogspot.com and http://docstalk.blogspot.com



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