Shortly after Trump proposed a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigrants I received a long email from someone who read my previous post on Trump and PC. The writer (we’ll call him Bob) asked if I plan to walk back my insistence that political correctness is such a scourge in light of Trump’s “over the top” comments. Bob has fallen into the PC trap, so some additional comments are warranted.
Bob essentially argued that Trump’s proposal went too far and therefore should be censored politically. Agree or disagree with Trump, there is a serious national security issue here. His proposal is akin to Jimmy Carter’s ban of Iranians from the U.S. during the 1980 hostage crisis, but I don’t remember a public uproar at the time. Many pundits and politicians have called Trump’s proposal unconstitutional, but they apparently don’t realize that the Constitution does not grant rights to non-Americans. Others have compared his proposal to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, although Trump’s proposed action would not affect U.S. citizens. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Trump’s statements disqualify him as a presidential candidate. Senator Graham told Trump to go to hell. The Philadelphia Daily News even compared Trump to Hitler.
Two observations should be perfectly clear. First, nobody is attempting to silence Senator Graham or anyone else for their outrageous comments. This is the first rule of PC: If you’re on the politically correct side of an issue, you are free to speak your mind. Second, very few of those who reject Trump’s proposal have made any attempt at a coherent, intellectual rebuttal. This is the second rule of PC: The objective of silencing the opposition is to avoid serious debate.
On the surface, political correctness is about free speech. It should be opposed on these grounds, but at a deeper level PC is really about evading reality. By stifling open and honest debate on the grounds that an argument is offensive, PC promotes an alternate reality. Here’s a simple example in the realm of economics.
Opponents of the welfare state frequently point out that some recipients of government programs seem unwilling to work and are simply taking advantage of the system. Many on the left refer to this as “attacking the poor” while ignoring the fact that the claim is obviously true—Some beneficiaries of welfare programs are taking care of the system. In an honest debate, we would want to know how many are abusing the system, how many deserving Americans are helped, how much the programs cost taxpayers, and details of non-government alternatives to alleviating poverty. In a PC-controlled discussion, opponents of the welfare system are “haters” and these issues don’t get covered. The real debate never actually occurs.
The take-home point here is that political correctness is the veil that hinders serious discussion on lots of topics these days. It’s difficult to win a debate when you can’t put all of the facts on the table. It’s time we call PC for what it is—a scourge that’s undermining our society.