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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

There Are Lessons To Be Learned In Being Politically Correct

Category: Society
Posted: 03/30/17 23:56, Edited: 03/30/17 23:57

by Dave Mindeman

Candidate Donald Trump got a lot of mileage out of ridiculing political correctness. It was his motto for the campaign and it was a mantra among his loyalists.

But political correctness does serve a useful purpose. And the loss of it's societal power has been a detriment to civil discourse.

Talking about race, gender, sexual orientation and other society norms have grown complicated over the years. And people grew tired of getting tripped up by the nuance of words and phrases that became part of the new moral lexicons.

But calling political correctness the new pariah has forced new problems in how we relate to each other - and with Trump, that takes a decided turn for the worse.

A lot of people in the older generation crowd (and I include myself in that group) can be embarrassed by the common phrases of our younger selves which now have taken on new meanings and sometimes give offense to people in ways we had never thought about.

But ignorance doesn't make it right. We are a species that needs to continually learn and understand our places in society. We should embrace learning politically correct norms, because they can teach us a lot about how our friends and neighbors feel about issues and how they deal with us. That is something worth learning and not something that should cause exasperation and anger.

Donald Trump has been an excuse for many to make our politically correct language so much simpler. Many people think it is admirable that he says things that are often racist or sexist or homophobic. His political success gives them carte blanche to do the same. To say how they "really feel"...to tell it like it is.

But using something as an excuse does not absolve anyone of violating a societal change. It does not absolve anyone of failing to correct a view that is simply morally wrong and no longer valid.

Racist ideas are never OK. Sexism is never right. Homophobia has finally been discovered to be what it is - a discriminatory dismissal of an entire group of people. We are still struggling with that last one.

But the "rules" of political correctness help us shape those moral codes. They let us evolve into a more welcoming and just society. Many of us are never ready to move ahead on those things. There are too many fears of the people who are different from us. Too many fears of change. Too many fears that our opinions are actually wrong.

Political correctness comes from changes in the rules that are catching up with a more diverse society. Some people fear diversity and political correctness often shames them into recognizing that diversity is a positive thing even if it makes them personally uncomfortable. But it is often much, much easier to criticize our PC society and treat it with disdain, rather than let it teach us something.

I have been embarrassed at times for using a phrase or a word that can potentially offend a person or a group of people. But my reaction is to learn from it. Find out why it offends. And to correct myself.

Political correctness is a useful educational tool. And our discourse can be improved if we use those lessons - and not fight or ignore them.
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