Politically Correct is Respect

If I had a nickel for every time someone deemed me as “too PC,” I’d be a very rich woman. Political correctness basically means that, before you open your mouth, you consider how your words will impact others (i.e. racism, sexism, etc.). You’re thoughtful, and you realize that words are not simply a meaningless conglomeration of letters and sounds.

Of course, nobody’s perfect. Most have, at some point in their lives, made a problematic comment that they probably regret. But imperfection is never an excuse to perpetuate oppression. Because we were all socialized in a racist, cishet patriarchal society, it’s important to constantly check and learn from one’s behavior. We have a collective responsibility to create a world that recognizes the full humanity of all people.

Being “politically correct,” though, is generally not celebrated nor encouraged. Typically used as a pejorative, the phrase “PC culture” has been routinely implemented to delegitimize marginalized populations’ experiences and efforts to dismantle oppressive systems. Although we generally think of conservative, right-wing public figures as the main disparagers of political correctness, white, male, liberal individuals also use this damaging rhetoric.

Jerry Seinfeld made headlines a couple years ago for vowing not to perform at “PC colleges.”

“I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me: ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC,’” he said. “They just want to use these words: ‘that’s racist,’ ‘that’s sexist,’ ‘that’s prejudiced.’ They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

Apparently Seinfeld, a rich, white man, is the arbiter on what constitutes as racist, sexist or prejudiced. College students, many of which are people of color and women who experience racism and sexism on a daily basis, know what we’re talking about due to lived experiences those with privileged identities simply cannot relate to.

Additionally, Bill Maher, who has consistently opposed “PC culture,” recently received criticism for having Milo Yiannopoulos on his show Real Time with Bill Maher for normalizing the former editor of Breitbart, a right-wing media company known for publishing racist, sexist, transphobic content.

Language is central to how we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. Words have consequences. They can be used for good—creating a healthy dialogue meant to advance social change. Conversely, language can also reinforce power structures. Offensive rhetoric that targets marginalized populations should be viewed as unacceptable and harmful, not simply a difference of opinion.

Trump’s Address to Congress 2.28.17

On the evening of the last day of Black History Month, Mr. Trump stood before the joint houses of Congress to deliver his speech. Starting off, he condemns the anti-Semitic attacks and the drive-by shooting of Indian immigrants. He says that, while politics may be divided, the United States stands together when it comes to the heinous acts of hate. Trump then goes on to give nationalist-tinged rhetoric about America’s readiness to take her rightful place in the world.

He addressed the crumbling infrastructure he hopes to rebuild, later mentioning the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines. In his speech, Mr. Trump claims that he will create tens of thousands of jobs, which is true; however, these jobs will only be temporary, and will end when the construction of the pipelines is completed. He says that he will end the crisis that faces inner city children of Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore, then says we must address the influx of drugs and people over our borders. With this being said, he again affirmed that a wall would be built along the southern border of the United States.

In combating the threats from outside the U.S., Trump also said he wished to continue the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, which is why he introduced the “improved vetting procedures” that culminated in his travel ban. He also claims that he wishes to work with Muslims specifically in the fight against ISIS, which seems strange coming from the man who introduced a travel ban for those from several primarily Muslim countries.

Trump turns to jobs and the American market next, saying that he will most definitely bring back jobs. However, he doesn’t introduce any real plans to do so. He also says that the tariffs that other countries have on American goods are ridiculously high, so there must be change. If he is suggesting higher tariffs for foreign goods, that could hurt our market, because other countries will also raise their tariffs on American products.

He moves to immigration next, saying that a merit-based system would be in the best interest for America. Mr. Trump also restates his intent to roll back the ACA, his support for Devos and her school choice plan, and the law enforcement of the U.S. His plans to expand the military defense budget are also discussed, as well as more of the “unifying” theme he seems to present throughout the speech.

In his speech, he presents a long list of things he’d like to do, but the actual implementation of them remain up in the air. His vague calls for “unity” and putting aside “trivial” differences seems to belittle some of the very real issues that have divided people throughout the country. While newspaper outlets have called this speech “surprisingly presidential” for Mr. Trump, that is more of a criticism than praise, considering the shock that comes when Mr. Trump actually seems like he might be taking his job seriously.