Dismantling the big stick of political correctness
The first time I noticed the modern scourge of self-censorship was in one of the Speech and Debate classes I taught in a public high school. The topics available to my students had to be timely, debatable, controversial, and researchable. By the flip of a coin, one of my students, a young man, had ended up with a "politically incorrect" position on a current topic. I watched as he intentionally weakened his argument.
When the student began his constructive speech, he added his own preamble. "I don't want to sound like a 'hater,' but..." As I listened to his presentation, it became clear to me that staying "politically correct" was far more important to him than winning his debate. In that debate, "political correctness" won, and debate, or the free exchange of ideas, lost.
My student did not want to be labeled a "hater" or, even worse, a "racist." I empathize with him because I don't want to be labeled a "hater" or a "racist," either.
For the last ten or fifteen years, leftists have used the "racism" or the "hater" label as a big stick. When we question leftist policies, they brandish the "racism" stick, and we all run for cover because we fear being labeled. If you fear being labeled, let me remind you that that horse has left the barn. Queen Hillary designated us "deplorables," and her infamous royal proclamation has seemingly infinite staying power.
One of the harder parts of free speech is acknowledging that people can and will call us whatever they want. Because American popular culture and public education have drilled into our young the fear of being politically incorrect, we let ourselves be silenced. In a land where the Bill of Rights protects our freedom of speech, the "fear of saying something offensive" trumps that freedom.
Under President Trump's leadership, we quickly found a vaccine for the Wuhan Flu. Can we also find a defense against the "racism" stick? Yes, and it comes from an unlikely place, one without a Bill of Rights: Afghanistan.
In his novel, The Kite Runner, about an Afghan family, Khaled Khomeini has a scene in which the owner of an orphanage is accused of being a hater. The cornered, compromised, and beaten Afghan hisses back at his accusers, saying, "Leave the judging to God!"
It is time we rediscover the power of open debate. Next time you see someone brandishing the "racism" stick, urge him to "leave the judging to God" and ask him, instead, why he is afraid of debate.
Image: Stressed speaker at a podium from W.S. Gilbert's Bab Ballads.
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