Michael Burrill mounts a counter-argument to reactionaries claiming that political correctness has gone too far…unfortunately for them, bigotry cloaked in faux concern or outrage is still bigotry.
If reaction-ites all over the world over are to be believed, then “political correctness” has gone absolutely insane. Political correctness (or PC) is a dismissive description of the thinking that rejects stereotypes and considers the socio-political context of the words we use, thereby considering the socio-political context of the people we are talking to, or about. Despite the hostility man possess, to me it’s always seemed an astute acknowledgement of societies inequalities and the organic, ever-changing nature of language and ideas.
Unfortunately, the reality rarely lives up to the ideal.
For most, political correctness seems to boil down to not saying certain words because they are socially unacceptable (possibly without fully understanding why) and acting as though their self proclaimed “colour-blindness” and “acceptance of everyone” means all issues surrounding race, gender and sexuality are solved and no longer need to be talked about.This essentially transforms ideas originally aimed at placing such issues front and centre into a tool to ignore them.
In this bizarro-world, many seem more upset by being confronted with their own privilege; more afraid of being called a racist, sexist, homophobe, or bigot, than they are of actually being one.
This results in white middle class people claiming they are discriminated against or silenced by someone pointing out that their middle class white life, spent largely around other middle class white people, means their insight into the issues faced by a certain marginalised group may be somewhat less insightful than they think. More insidiously, it results in outright bigotry being cloaked in race-card tricks or hidden in a maze of convoluted excuses. Any attempt to call it out results in switching the allegations of oppression back on the PC-fascists.
From my perspective, if political correctness HAS gone mad, then it’s reversed from what it once was. You can’t call a racist a racist anymore without them invoking their indeterminate number of ethnic close friends, dragging you into a torturous semantic sideshow or accusing you of oppressing them. This madness was ever-present in recent discussions about race and same sex marriage.
I’ll start with the Adam Goodes affair. The whole depressing debacle has been the perfect example of the madness. You’ve got people, who yearn for the days when digitally raping one’s opponent was laughed off as “bit of biffo”, claiming rather inexplicably that they are booing Goodes for his dirty style of play, so uniquely diabolical that it drowns out any other dirty play in the league. You’ve got people like Alan Jones, who’d probably lobby for the reintroduction of the cane into schools, berating Goodes for calling out a 13 year old who racially abused him, implying in the process that racial abuse isn’t that big of a deal (it’s just “banter” right?).
Lastly, you have the folks who claim they are booing because of AG’s “threatening” war dance. Unless they thought Adam Goodes was actually going to spear them, it seems to me that the only threatening thing is the open acknowledgement of indigenous heritage. It all adds up to people attacking Goodes for acknowledging race as an issue, all the while claiming it’s got nothing to do with race. These weak justifications accuse Goodes of unreasonably claiming racism, of playing the victim. This paints him as not only hysterical, but also as the discriminative one.
I’ll move on now to the “Reclaim Australia” crowd. They fear and despise a culture different to their own, a group largely made up of brown people, but they’re not racist. They say, Islam isn’t a race. So, you’re technically a xenophobe rather than a racist…congratufuckinglations! I hope you’re proud of yourself.
RA claim this is about fighting the surge of radical Islamism that’s attempting to overwhelm Australia’s secular values (one of which is Christianity). Muslims make up 2% of the population and the percentage of any Muslims that are involved in radical Islamism would be considerably lower than that. There is no invasion to repel, and the implication that all Muslims are involved in a sinister, clandestine plot to enforce sharia on the rest of us IS inherently racist…sorry, xenophobic. “I don’t have a problem with all Muslims, just Islam.” (Suddenly it’s not just about radical Islamism, how odd…) they may then argue.
Here I was thinking they just copied those cherry picked Quranic verses from an Islamophobic Facebook group. Obviously, I was mistaken. They’re all evidently Islamic scholars, whose knowledge is so vast and nuanced that they can comfortably place blanket condemnation across the many sects and interpretations of Islam (particularly those Sufis with their beautiful music and esoteric mystical interpretation of the Quran, eh?)
Away from race, the debate over same-sex marriage has been blighted by the same convoluted logic and double speak. It’s not about homophobia, they say, it’s about tradition. It’s about acknowledging that a man and a woman are the perfect family unit.
They may then even question the potentially traumatic effects that same-sex parents can have on children. The idea that marriage is a static institution is completely false. No-fault divorce, anyone? Or divorce in general for that matter. Either way, tradition isn’t a good enough argument to justify continuing institutional discrimination.
The implication that such couples are inherently inferior IS homophobic. Science has proved time and time again that same sex parents are the equal of mixed gender parents. If children are suffering any trauma due to their parents’ sexuality, it’s because of the people (my editor’s objection to the word I wanted to use here only proves the overarching point of this article) constantly questioning or condemning their family unit, whether they do so honestly, or cloak their bigotry in faux concern. Yet as ever, those aforementioned people have the gall to claim it is actually the “Rainbow Mafia” who are oppressing them, by bringing up the issue in the first place.
It’s all pretty exasperating. I’m pretty sure even one of those massive fuckers with a swastika tattooed on his forehead would try and convince you that he’s a White Separatist rather a White Supremacist, before explaining that his ideology is driven by love of their own race rather than hatred of others.
Gives a whole new meaning to “PC-fascist” doesn’t it? You have people who bastardise political correctness in order to make their bigotry more palatable for themselves or others, who then claim that “This political correctness has gone batty, you can’t say anything anymore without someone calling you racist!” If you’re so sure that what you’re saying isn’t bigotry, then why coat it in a layer of protective bullshit in the first place?
It is working, however. You cannot broach the issues of race, sexuality or gender without people acting as though pointing out their societal privilege is a hate crime. You can’t challenge a reactionary opinion without the holder acting as though you’re silencing them. It’s as though they think the right to an opinion means they should be able to say whatever they want without disagreement.
I’m probably wasting my breath here, but it’s pretty simple, that while you have a right to an opinion, that doesn’t make your opinion inherently worthwhile. If you don’t want be a called a racist than don’t say racist things.
Most of all, if you think that race, gender or sexuality are no longer issues, it’s probably because you occupy a place in the strata of society where one or all them don’t affect you. No matter how much we try to ignore them, they’re issues that aren’t going away. The sooner this is acknowledged, and we stop humouring loonies, liars, and the cerebrally lazy, the sooner we can actually make a real effort at resolution.