To me, there are two types of political correctness: The first is the correctness of refusing to use words that have always been intended as derogatory toward those to whom they apply. While I hope not to infuriate anyone with the simple mention of such words, they’ve included, “wop,” “spic,” “chink,” etc. The people to whom these words are supposed to apply have never applied these words to themselves. Most Americans can agree that labeling people with such derogatory terms is wrong, cruel, and certainly racist.
The 2nd type (and the type most people have a problem with) is what I call political correctness entrapment. This is where the usage of a given word is labelled as racist, even though the group to whom the term refers has, for many years, used that very term to refer to themselves. This seems to have started with the term, “black.” The term itself, from what I understand, replaced the word “colored,” which replaced the word “negro,” as in the United Negro College Fund – an African-American organization that, in its own name, has always referred to college students of their race as “negro.” Likewise, many colleges in the 1980s had organizations that called themselves “The Black Caucus” and the “Black Student Union.” Yet, by the early 1990s, non-racist whites who used the term “black,” a term that had always been acceptable for them to use, instead of the new term “African-American,” were suddenly in danger of being labelled as racists. The result? More whites running to the Republican Party, because they hate the political correctness traps of the extreme left.
While I’ll admit that the “black” vs. “African-American” debate has since abated, the political correctness trap has spread to other races, and even segments of racists. In December, on MSNBC’s The Run Down with Jose Diaz-Balart, I witnessed a hispanic outreach campaigner (I think he represented Bernie Sanders) say that Martin O’Malley was a racist because O’Malley used the term “illegal immigrants” instead of the new term “dreamers.” What alarmed me so much about this accusation is that, to the best of my knowledge, Martin O’Malley supports a path to citizenship. He’s on the same side of the immigration debate as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Yet, just for the sake of scoring political points, this campaigner sprung the political correctness trap on an opponent.
Also disturbing is that the term “dreamer” is unspecific. It makes it more difficult to deal with the technicalities of immigration issues. And it steals the word “dreamer” away from legal immigrants who have dreams and U.S. born children who have dreams, limiting its use only to those who come to this country illegally. But worst of all, this form of political correctness accuses those of us who are not racists, who are trying to discuss issues that we care about, who favor a path to citizenship, of being racists just because we haven’t adopted the new language.
What effect will this sort of thing have in the long run?
I believe that these political correctness traps drive those who might side with a minority’s cause to the opposite extreme. That’s why Donald Trump’s pole numbers go up whenever he says he’s fed up with political correctness. Most Americans are fed up with the political correctness trap, too. And, unfortunately, they become so emotional over it that they run to the opposite extreme, willing to embrace Trump’s truly racist rants almost out of spite, so that racist rhetoric that would have repulsed them in years past now delights them. They then vote for politicians who say they oppose political correctness, even though there’s nothing legislatively that politicians can do to stop people from making a fuss when someone uses a word they do not accept. The First Amendment protects that freedom of speech.
As for Christians, however, the political correctness trap is actually sinful. It’s the sin of judgmentalism. Its purpose is to effectively take our seat on God’s throne and label another person as evil before the whole world, so that the world hates them, refuses to listen to them, and damns them in their hearts. It’s also, in many cases, the sin of bearing false witness, in which we call someone a racist who really isn’t one, all because they used a term that had been acceptable for them to use all of their lives until someone changed the game on them for the sake of entrapment.
I realize as a Democrat who runs a Facebook Page called, “Rescuing Religion from Republicans,” this article may come as a surprise, and even a disappointment, to many liberals who follow the page. But remember that this website is called, “The Politically Moderate Christian.” One of the reasons I’m moderate is that, as a Christian, I let the Bible teach me right from wrong, not my political party. That means if I have to call out the party to which I belong for being too extreme, or just plain wrong, then I will, even if it’s at the expense of losing existing fans of the page and website. The way I see it, if a person is so closed-minded and emotional that they shun a writer they used to like over an occasional difference of opinion, then that person just might be too far gone to be reached on any issue.