Time to ditch the label “politically correct”

As an early new year’s resolution, I am vowing to retire the term “politically correct” from my writing. We all … Continued

As an early new year’s resolution, I am vowing to retire the term “politically correct” from my writing. We all know what it means: it’s shorthand for a complex of views that the right wing attributes to everyone on the political left. People on the left are, let’s see, thought to: oppose discrimination of every kind except against white men; hate the military; disdain all religion and religious believers; uphold the rights of terrorists over the rights of American citizens (unless the citizens are terrorists); favor bigger government and higher taxation; embody a kind of multiculturalism that denies basic universal human rights; accept the scientific consensus on global warming and embrace a host of other obviously whacko ideas.

In practice, political correctness is nothing more than a meaningless, overarching indictment of any idea that contradicts one’s own opinion. I’m shocked to realize that I’ve used it in my own writing, when talking about political liberals who disagree with me on some point. Calling someone politically correct is a sloppy, dumbed-down way of saying, “I don’t like what you think.”

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, politically correct (abbreviation PC) is defined as (1) Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation and (2) Being or perceived as being over-concerned with such change, often to he exclusion of other matters. That phrase “being or perceived” is the heart of the matter. Perceived by whom, and by what standard of evidence? It should not be necessary to note that perception and reality are anything but synonymous.

An excellent example of the way in which the PC label/libel is used as an undiscriminating club appeared in response to my recent column on bullying. In reply to a suggestion that I wouldn’t have been talking about bullying if gays were not a favored “victim group” of liberals, I noted that teenage bullying is usually directed by majorities against minorities. Whites in an overwhelmingly black school, and blacks in an overwhelmingly white school–I said–are most likely to be targets for bullying. Gays, because they are in a minority in virtually all public schools, are also targeted–as are extremely bright, studious teenagers in schools where intellectual achievement is not highly valued. A blogger responded that this was a typical politically correct point of view, in that it denies that blacks can ever be racist. But I don’t think that blacks are incapable of racism, and that isn’t what I said in my post. By minority, I meant minority in the literal sense–an outnumbered individual or group of people perceived, in some significant respect, to be different from and unacceptable to the majority. By slinging around the PC label, one doesn’t need to address the specific views of an opponent or group of opponents.

Political correctness may seem to be a broad and elastic term, but the pejorative elastic stretches only one way–in the direction of those perceived as more liberal than oneself. There is no comparable label that mainstream conservatives apply to conservatives farther to the right than they are, as demonstrated by the near-universal reluctance of more “moderate” conservative Republican presidential aspirants to take on Sarah Palin. There is no standard label to apply to people like Palin and Senator-elect Rand Paul (other than “nut job,” which is also a statement of opinion but has the disadvantage of sounding as pejorative as it actually is). The genius of the conservative usage of political correctness is that it is just as pejorative as nut job but sounds more reasonable.

There has been a good deal of speculation about the origins of the PC tag. Some think, when the term first began to appear in the 1970s, that it was related to the Communist Party lingo of the 1930s, in which the “Party line” was also sometimes called the “correct line.” However the term originated, it was not widely used by American intellectuals or anyone else until the 1980s. The New Right of the 1980s was extremely successful in turning this expression, whatever its origins, into an anti-liberal pejorative. This was an important semantic victory, because whatever the origins, the right insinuated the notion into public discourse that there was indeed some sort of correct line followed by all liberals (a particularly ludicrous idea, given the past and present fragmentation of what is loosely called the American left). Liberals never managed to come up with an all-purpose attack label that would have demonized a set of typical right-wing views (whether putative or real).

I’m afraid, to be consistent, that I’m also going to have to give up the phrase “religious correctness,” which I have often used to in regard to Americans who believe that all religions are basically good and that any offensive action taken in the name of religion–say, flying planes into buildings or shooting doctors who perform abortions–must, by definition, be a perversion of religion. I will confess that I once thought (vaingloriously) that I invented this phrase in Freethinkers; A History of American Secularism (2004)–quite possibly because some negative reviews attributed the expression to me. In 1996, though, Isaac Kramnick and Laurence R. Moore, in The Godless Constitution use “the party of religious correctness” to refer to those Americans who insist that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and who simply dismiss the fact that the Constitution deliberately made no mention to God (or to Christ).

I suspect, since I had read this fine book, that I unconsciously picked up Moore’s and Kramnick’s phase and added another twist. And that’s exactly the problem with phrases like politically correct and religiously correct: they can be used semi-consciously, without thinking and spelling out exactly what one means. There are now a great many Americans who believe that America is a Christian nation but not that other religions, especially Islam, are equally deserving of respect. There isn’t one phrase to cover such people, any more than then there is one form of political correctness that can be ascribed to, say, a liberal who maintains that the culture of the Enlightenment, and the idea of universal human rights are superior to cultures based on divine authority and male authority.

I also think that the spread of the political correctness accusation, by accident and by design, paved the way for the loose talk about socialism, communism and fascism that has figured so prominently in right-wing rhetoric about the Obama administration. In modern America, these terms have become unmoored from their historical meanings. Socialism, used in this fashion, means nothing more than a government program the speaker dislikes (or that doesn’t benefit him personally).

So I’m finished with using “correctness” as thoughtless shorthand to avoid spelling out what I really mean about religion, politics, and the interaction of the two. I hope, but I don’t expect, that others will also take this pledge. Since the last time I attacked a commonly used word in public discourse—the ubiquitous “folks”–it has become even more prevalent. I used to get a big laugh from audiences when I substituted folks for Lincoln’s lines in the Gettysburg Address–government “of the folks, by the folks and for the folks.” We’re all folks now, whether someone is trying to sell us a war or a flat-screen TV. And the folks are in charge of separating the correct sheep from the incorrect goats.

Note: You’ll be glad to know that the Catholic League for Civil Rights, in response to the atheist poster “You know it’s a myth,” has put up its own poster–near the New York side of the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel–proclaiming, “You know it’s the truth…This season, celebrate Christ.” Stephen Colbert suggests that, to put the Christ back in Christmas, we all greet people, “Merry Christ-Christmas-Christ.”

About

Susan Jacoby Susan Jacoby is the author of "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism"­ and is completing a secular history of religious conversion.
  • WmarkW

    Not quite. Politically Correct means that facts have been mis-stated or left out because they would point to the “wrong” political conclusion. For example the New York Times headlines about the last bombing plot:Suspect in Oregon Bomb Plot Is Called ConfusedWhere are the factually correct words “Somali-born,” “immigrant” or “Muslim?” A: They’re not “politically” correct because they would point the reader to the “wrong” conclusion.These border on the parody headline that didn’t really appear on 09/12/01: Nineteen Saudis Among Dead in Skyscraper CollapseSteve Sailer has coined the term “hate facts” to refer to things like the high dropout rates of illegal immigrant children, or that black youths show lower educational attainment and higher crime rates than whites AFTER controlling for parent’s education and income, that must not be let into the discussion because our society takes an Emporers New Clothes approach to them.At least most politicians and journalists no longer append the phrase “for doing the same work” to the statement that women earn 23% less than men. Of course, the average full time employed woman also works fewer hours, is younger and has less seniority and less education than the average full time employed man.

  • armandduncan83

    Amen sister.

  • WmarkW

    You want to know one thing wrong with political correctness? Here’s an excerpt from a web page from an anti-sexual violence site:The CriminalThe numbers are from the US DOJ, who doesn’t break Hispanics as a separate race group, including most of them as white. Hence about 80% of the USA is white, and they commit 52% of the rapes. So, instead of telling us who is most likely to commit rape, they tell us that the majority of the US population has a below-average rape rate. How does that help anyone avoid sexual violence?Remember when Lawrence Summers suggested the reason women accomplished less than men in science was a difference in interest and aptitude? He was roundly denounce from all quarters for not fighting “barriers” with hardly a mention of whether what he said was true. It was as if factual accuracy was completely irrelevant to the discussion if there’s an agenda to be pushed.When TV news does a story on homelessness, do they profile drunken bums or recent mental patients? No, they use a (usually white) family whose adults lost their jobs. PC is an important issue to me because it ties in with secularism. A lot of idiocy has been printed over the centuries on questions like why children die when there’s a benevolent deity watching over us, or an earthquake hit Haiti for voodoo but not Treblinka for the holocaust. The answer is obvious to anyone who doesn’t pre-suppose theism.Well, a lot of social disparities make perfect sense if you don’t pre-suppose that barriers are their cause.

  • Carstonio

    The term “politically correct” was originally created as an in-joke among liberals to satirize the too-serious tendencies of some of their colleagues. The term was coined in the same spirit as Ben Stiller’s mocking of the Hollywood establishment in “Tropic Thunder.” Conservative commentators of the time stripped away the context and talked about it as if it embodied a serious attempt to change the language. In my experience, most people who use the term these days are lamenting that it’s no longer acceptable to mock people who are different. They don’t consciously seek to mock people that way. They simply have an unexplored attitude of privilege, where they think that deviation from a “norm” is itself funny. They don’t grasp the distinction between calling people with disabilities “retards” and the point that Stiller was making in the “full retard” scene. These are generally the same people who complain about a “double standard” in who gets to use the N-word, and again they don’t realize that it’s impossible for someone who isn’t black to use that word ironically.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    when anyone says “politically correct” what they really mean is TOO politically correct.

  • GabrielRockman

    “In my experience, most people who use the term these days are lamenting that it’s no longer acceptable to mock people who are different. “Actually, I’d say its almost the opposite. They are lamenting that it is acceptable to mock people who are different if they are not in one of the minorities that is protected by political correctness. They are lamenting the double standards of political correctness, or as wmarkw pointed out, they are lamenting the omission/alteration of facts that point to uncomfortable conclusions.I would not characterize them as having an attitude of privilege, I would characterize them as valuing the truth ‘too much’.

  • Carstonio

    They are lamenting that it is acceptable to mock people who are different if they are not in one of the minorities that is protected by political correctness.Can you provide an example of the double standard that you describe? My theory about Lawrence Summers is that he subscribed to the Just World Fallacy, wrongly assuming that women and men have the same opportunities. I have female relatives in engineering and the sciences who report numerous experiences of being treated as if they were crashing an all-boys club. I remember an opinion piece by a black female physician who gets the “Are you really a doctor?” reaction even from other blacks and other women.Obviously it’s possible that the genders do have different aptitudes for different subjects. But we don’t live a world where we can tell if this is the case, because of the advantages and privileges that men still have.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I agree with Carstonio, most people who use the term are lamenting something; they think that the progress of others hurts them, somehow; they seek to build themselves up by tearing others down. They lament the loss of free reign to belittle and bully.The term “political correctness” is almost always used by conservative white people who wish that their obvious superiority would be more widely and absolutely recognized. Just look at America’s conservative party, the Republicans, and its odd scion, the Tea Party, more white even than whitest parts of Scandinavia. I do not believe that collecdtive groups of white people are superior to darker people; I truely and deeply believe it; being asquainted with people of many nations and races, it seems like common sense, and not adherence to some imagined doctrine of political correctness.I see that Wmarkw has an endless stream of complaints about “political correctness.” In fact, I believe that Susan Jacoby was referring to him, specifically. If he has opinions about things, why can’t her say them, and drop the complainst about everybody being PC?It sounds a little confused, and if repeated to often, a little paranoid.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I shall nevah surrendah. The words “politically correct” are enshrined in my lexicon beneath the eternal flame several levels above “fledgling democracy,” “Yeats’ flirtation with fascism,” “perhaps, the greatest ode ever written,” “perhaps, the finest sestina in English,” “perhaps, the greatest guitarist in history,” and “seven types of ambiguity.” Perhaps. (And that would be seven types, not six.)Kneejerk liberal, unthinking, hypocritical conformist lefty jerk–are also keepers.Cave-dwelling conservative nut-job, fascist cretin, self-serving bloviator (soon to be bloviationist), unknowing tool of the capitalist pigs, etc., fine by me.MARK, blessed is affirmative action. Blessed is every big-mouthed, politically incorrect XIONISTA who says Gehen Zie. Anwhere, but gehen.Love,

  • FarnazMansouri2

    DITLD:I agree with Carstonio, most people who use the term are lamenting something; they think that the progress of others hurts them, somehow; they seek to build themselves up by tearing others down. They lament the loss of free reign to belittle and bully.One could say that this sort of thinking has nothing to do with either politics or correctness. Perhaps. And, ah me, alas, Rev. Thislewaite is not alone on this blog in this apolitical aping.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mr. Robinson writes,”In a memorable speech on homosexuality at Trinity College in 1992, The Rev. Dr. Frank G. Kirkpatrick put the biblical code in context.”That is odd. I’m at least acquainted with the work of every eminent European, American, and ME Judaic scholar of the twentieth century, but said Tanakh authority Kirkpatick does not ring a bell.This column reminds me of the words of the late Edward Said, who time and again, warned that stealing another people’s culture, words, etc., and then (re)interpreting them for the conquered was the sine qua non of imperialism.See also the late Catholic scholar, Rosemary Ruether on this re Christianity and Judaism.Although I know the disease persists, the arrogance of Robinson’s putting forth does astonish, this being 2010 and all. Perhaps, he will let us know what the great Jew Kirkpatrick has to say on the entire matter of the Kosreth from the beginnings until now.When consulting R. Kirkpatrick, perhaps you and he might wish to take a look at any Oxford Study Bible, along with anything else by anyone literate on the subject, and report back on the Tanakh and gayness. You two Jews, would then be able to explain (though, superficially) that Tanakh was at pains to end male on male rape, long the custom in the region, especially of weaker men by stronger, most frequently, after combat. In fact, this sort of thing goes on today. Recommend “The Contending of Horus and Seth,” available on the web. If the primary source proves difficult, I’d suggest you two Jews trot over to a decent university library.Once there, you would also want to research precisely when the construct “gay” entered Judaic culture.Finally, if and when you are up to it, read Michel Foucault. He has a great deal to say on man and boy sex in ancient Greece. Others concur. By the first century it had begun to appear “unseemly” to some, and despicable to others. That may account for some of the anti-gay hatred one sees in the “NT” (sic).Below, you will find those “NT” (sic) passages that are, in fact, the “Biblical” texts most cited by homophobic Christians.You will also find another perspective, from the Gnostic Gospels. Let’s you put it all in NT perspective, shall you, Mr. Robinson?Or should we ask R. Daniel Abulafia?Continued

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Whoops! Sorry, for previous post. Had a politically incorrect moment for that great TAnakh scholar Rabbi Gene Robinson.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Farnaz”Once there, you would also want to research precisely when the construct “gay” entered Judaic culture.”Do you know when?I do not know much about it. I assume that being “gay” is a sort of modern way to be, but I also assume that maybe gay people in the modern sense have existed always, sometimes living more in secret, but other times, depending on the time and place, living a more or less normal life.When people are deeply, madly in love, it is hard to cover up. So, we know about Leo Tolstoy’s episode. And we know about Frederick of Prussia’s episode. And we know about Emperor Hadrian’s episode. Then, others, like Isaac Newton, Handel, or Michaelangelo, kept a grip on their emotions, and it is harder to say.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    DITLD,”Once there, you would also want to research precisely when the construct “gay” entered Judaic culture.”Do you know when?Actually, the post was meant for Robinson’s thread, whither it ultimately went.On PC, I agree with you and Carstonio, but feel it is useful. The problem is that the same propensities obtain for conservatives. Liberals, unimaginative as ever, have taken to branding conservatives PC if they appear to have been shaped with a cookie cutter.What we Liberalistas need is a term parallel to “politically correct” for conservatives who fit the bill. Then we shall rest easier, je crois.

  • WmarkW

    Susan claims that PC doesn’t have any specific meaning. It might be true that because the term is used in a variety of situations, there’s no one definition that covers all of them. But there’s at least one important application of the term and practice, which is in selecting stories and facts in journalism.Journalists obviously have an obligation to be factually correct, and no one would want them to do otherwise. Political correctness is the implementation of an additional obligation to “afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted.” Instead of having primarily the obligation to put out the facts and let the people make up their minds, the PC agenda holds that there are some opinions we don’t want them forming, so we shouldn’t give them facts that will lead them there. Omitting race when describing criminal fugitives, for example. What are the costs of such correctness in journalism? One example was in the subprime crisis, in which minority mortgage brokers exploited their brethren through affinity marketing, like the woman who had the $800k wedding at the Mayflower, who had presented herself as a successful black businesswoman to extract mortgager’s home equity from them. Michelle Singletary wrote about one victim’s experience with her broker, “Because this man shared a common heritage and found her through community connections, the homeowner trusted him.” (link below) This was allowed to continue because MSM weren’t going to run a story “Minority con brokers exploit racial trust.”Women’s issues are another arena in which journalism is agenda-driven. Domestic violence advocacy organizations have been allowed to circulate false and misleading statistics because no one’s going to stand up for the men in mutually abusive relationships, which most are. The American Association of University Women always has the media’s ear to describe how girls are being shortchanged in schools, even though it’s boys who are falling behind academically. When the economy was booming, we used to read about how women consumers were driving it, that they made 80% of spending decisions and are the primary drivers of the real estate market. Now that we know America was over-spending during that period, we suddenly don’t hear about it any more.Susan often writes about shoddy journalism and the dumbing of America. Agenda-driven fact-selection doesn’t help, even if you subscribe to the agenda.(Singletary link:

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark, Re: Your postAre you saying that it was only “minority” homeowners who were duped or fell behind?And which minority?And was it always their “brethren” who mislead them?Did any nonminority homeowners run into similar problems? Was it their nonminority brethren who mislead them?Are women not treated differently from men in university hiring? What percentage of college and university presidents are women? Which Colleges and universities?Why is it that when boys were doing better than girls (pre Women’s Movement), the problem rested with the girls, but now it rests with the schools?Start there. I’ll be back.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark, You’re a very smart man. Why can’t you come up with legitimate examples that don’t make you sound like Trent Lott?

  • edbyronadams

    Farnaz, this one I can answer from hearing from the teachers in the family.”Why is it that when boys were doing better than girls (pre Women’s Movement), the problem rested with the girls, but now it rests with the schools?”Math curriculum has undergone summersaults in the last twenty years in an attempt to be more “girl friendly”. It was presumed, and still is that any deficit in that area of female achievement is the schools fault.

  • WmarkW

    Why can’t you come up with legitimate examples that don’t make you sound like Trent Lott?Can I cite a couple of examples from movies? Have you ever seen U-571; it’s a (fictitious) WWII submarine film from about 10 years ago, in which an American sub crew captures a German sub and its Enigma code machine. Since WWII sub crews didn’t include blacks, the filmmakers somehow worked into the plot an excuse to take the base cook onto a sub mission, and then include him in the raiding party that captures and boards the German sub. Isn’t that just a ridiculous and stupid element to work into the story, solely for the purpose of having a token black in an important part?Have you seen Bowling for Columbine? Michael Moore poses the (very good) question of why America’s firearm homicide rate is so much higher than Canada’s, when the usual cultural reasons cited for American violence — movies, TV and video games — are virtually identical in the two countries. He then spends several minutes “debunking” the idea that it’s rooted in our minority population. But it IS because of our minority population. The non-Hispanic white firearm homicide rate is about 20% higher than Canada’s, with the Hispanic rate triple and black rate seven times our white rate.How can we solve problems if we can’t be honest about what they are?

  • backspace1

    Note:Susan’s position on atheism?We have been saved by a woman!

  • ThomasBaum

    Seems to me that the term “politically correct” can apply to anyone trying to shove something down another’s throat and uses anything from anywhere from the entire political spectrum to “justify” their “bullying” of others.”Bullying” can come in many forms, seems to come with the human condition, whether it is: physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, educational, just to name a few.As Susan Jacoby pointed out anyone can be a minority.I suppose, in this life at least, two of the things that “government” should be about is protecting all of its citizens from the tyranny of the majority against the minority and the tyranny of the minority against the majority.All “flavors” of the political spectrum uses “political correctness” to “justify” and to say otherwise is in itself using “political correctness. Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Ed,Farnaz, this one I can answer from hearing from the teachers in the family.”Why is it that when boys were doing better than girls (pre Women’s Movement), the problem rested with the girls, but now it rests with the schools?”Girls are outperforming boys from elementary school straight on up through college, graduate schools, and professional schools.All the way through.Before the women’s movement, it was observed that girls outperformed boys up until they entered middle school. Then they fell behind.The reason proposed was that girls were better at the rote tasks of elementary school. They were not rote, but nevertheless….Given the times, sociologists wondered if sociological factors might be at play. (Duh).The universities at the time required higher SAT and high school averages for girls than for boys, nevertheless.As expectations changed, so did girls’ performance.Now, it is “opined” that the schools which require “passivity” are more suited for girls’ personalities. I do swear to God.I do believe that the decline in boys’ and young men’s performance is due to societal changes, btw.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Here’s the funny thing about hacking. It’s illegal.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,How can we solve problems if we can’t be honest about what they are?

  • edbyronadams

    Farnaz, the fact that females are outperforming males in school is not in question. The statement you made that I took issue with was that schools were not to blame for females previously performing worse at math and schools were not held accountable. They were. Schools provide a convenient whipping boy for all of society’s ills, no matter political POV.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    GabrielRockmanIt seems in almost every example that you gave, there is a tone, that is very definitely anti-black; there is a smoldering resentment that you feel compelled to keep your anti-black sentiments in check.For example, the Tea Party is almost completely white; they don’t trot token blacks out to prove they are not racist; they do not even have token blacks. Likewise, the Republican Party is almost completely white, and openly exploits the differences between blacks and whites to get votes.At Tea Party rallies, President Obama has been protrayed in large posters as an African witch doctor with a bone through is nose. Every criticism of him is not racist, but in light of the racist campaingns waged against him, I would think that people like you could be a little more humble and understanding when it comes to racism, instead of wishing for the good ole’ days when aggressive racist slurs were common, ordinary, and accepted by everybody.Likewise, if a minority person somewhere some place ever got a promotion because he was a minority, that is defintiely NOT a trend. White people have the advantage in everything and in every way. It is not politically correct for me to say and believe that; it is the truth. You choose not to believe it because you don’t think that any minority person should ever be promoted anywhere, anytime, and you blame such promotions on your illusion of political correctness.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Ed,I don’t understand. I never said anything about boys and girls and math.What do you mean?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I have to say that some folks think others are unintelligent. That’s unfortunate. Things can be done via the telephone.Some people should get a lawyer. We Jews aren’t vengeful.

  • WmarkW

    How about how its acceptable to mock the intelligence of Christians, but not to mock the intelligence of Atheists?From the fact that his posts are still in the archives and he’s still using the same screen name, it wouldn’t appear he’s being reported for offensive comments.Search “abiogenesis”

  • edbyronadams

    Farnaz, this is the quote.”Why is it that when boys were doing better than girls (pre Women’s Movement), the problem rested with the girls, but now it rests with the schools?”I can state catagorically that schools took a great deal of heat and acted accordingly in reforming math curriculum when girls performed more poorly especially at middle and high schools.That said, I don’t expect nearly the action now that schools are taking some heat for boys performance, mainly because the staffs are mostly women and females are a designated oppressed group and it is “politically correct” to act to help them.

  • Carstonio

    How about that we can lament the lack of black quarterbacks in the NFL, but not the lack of white runningbacks in the NFL. Who is forbidding people from talking about the latter? The issue with the former is that for the longest time, teams weren’t giving blacks opportunities to prove themselves as quarterbacks. It used to be common for black quarterbacks at the collegiate level to end up as running backs at the pro level.How about how its acceptable to mock the intelligence of Christians, but not to mock the intelligence of Atheists?Again, who says that the latter isn’t acceptable? I see examples of both all the time. I would argue that the latter seems worse only because Christians are in the majority and have the power to make life hard for atheists.How about the outrage at Bill Cosby’s family values beliefs, expecting black people to shoulder some of the responsibility for their situation?I know many whites who praised Cosby’s laudable comments for the wrong reasons, misinterpreting them as confirmation of their prejudices against blacks. This isn’t an either-or situation – one can point out that blacks should make the most of their opportunities while also criticizing those particular whites who deny blacks opportunities or who refuse to recognize that opportunities are still not equal.How about the refusal to investigate the harm that promoting minorities merely for being minorities decreases the respect that minorities get for their position when they actually earn it?Sorry, but the claim that large numbers of minorities are promoted for that reason only is simply a falsehood. DILTD is right that specific incidents of this do not constitute a trend. It was much more common for decades for whites and males to be promoted simply for those qualities, and it still goes on.How about the need of the tea-party to trot out black people from within its ranks to defend itself against baseless charges of racism?It’s not baseless when they throw around Nixonian Southern Strategy euphemisms like “people who don’t want to work” and “welfare class” and “decent, hard-working, law-abiding people” and “real Americans.” (with respect to DILTD, such language is far more common than the witch-doctor signs.) I’ve known proto-Tea Partiers for 30 years, and their dominant worldview is one of resentment. It’s not that they “hate” non-whites, it’s that they grew up during a time when being white meant automatic status and they feel threatened that this is becoming less true. It’s morally offensive when people who have advantages for being white or Christian or male insist that they’re being victimized for having those traits.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,Did you want to discuss violent crime? This isn’t a snare. You mentioned it.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,Spiderman doesn’t count in this for several reasons, among them the fact that he’s adopting a persona. He’s playing because it amuses him, although he is, in fact, a Christian.Much of the rest is put on. It is true that Atheists have an unfortunate attitude toward believers. It is wretched and condescending.And it operates just as much among formerly observant Jews and Muslims as among Christians.

  • WmarkW

    What about crime should we discuss?BTW, TheRoot.com had a discussion about how to combat the “perception” of black crime, and one commenter claimed black and white crime rates are the same, and that whites are just better at not being caught.If anyone can provide any sort of evidence supporting this, I’d like to see it.

  • Carstonio

    It is true that Atheists have an unfortunate attitude toward believers. It is wretched and condescending.It’s really a minority of atheists who have that attitude and who engage in that name-calling, just as it’s really a minority of Christians who seem to delight in the idea of non-Christians being headed for hell. I know many Christians who resent the former group treating all Christians as though they’re hatemongers like Pat Robertson or James Dobson. And I suspect that many atheists resent the assumption that all of them hate religion and hate believers. I’ve taken some grief from both minorities for my skepticism, as if not holding a belief on the matter was somehow wrong. Still, I doubt that an atheist calling non-atheists stupid is the equal of a believer saying that non-believers deserve to suffer for eternity.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,What about crime should we discuss?BTW, TheRoot.com had a discussion about how to combat the “perception” of black crime, and one commenter claimed black and white crime rates are the same, and that whites are just better at not being caught.If anyone can provide any sort of evidence supporting this, I’d like to see it.What else? Do you want to discuss another verboten topic? Gays, maybe? I don’t know. You choose.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    I’ve taken some grief from both minorities for my skepticism, as if not holding a belief on the matter was somehow wrong. Still, I doubt that an atheist calling non-atheists stupid is the equal of a believer saying that non-believers deserve to suffer for eternity.Posted by: Carstonio Others simply behave badly toward believers.I wonder if we’d all be fine if believers would simply keep it to themselves. Would atheists do the same?

  • Carstonio

    Talking about crime in terms of race misses the larger issues. From the statistics I’ve seen, non-whites are more likely to commit crimes, but they’re also more likely to be The race-based view of crime wrongly implies that blacks and Hispanics who live upstanding lives are somehow accountable for the ones who don’t. They can serve as role models, sure, but they don’t have any more obligation than whites to do so. The causes of crime are deprivation, misery, psychopathology, and social injustice. While those affect minorities more, those can be found among all ethnic groups to one degree or another. But even many well-meaning whites seem to unconsciously believe that being black or Hispanic is like belonging to a club, where the members act in concert according to some policy.

  • WmarkW

    Even a cursory look at capital punishment statistics shows that a murderer is far more likely to face the death penalty if his or her victim was white.There’s a complicating factor in that, though, that’s a little hard to research, but the Post tried.A lot of what we might call the “excess” of black-black homicide is also criminal-criminal homicide, like one drug dealer shooting another or two guys who did a robbery killing together fighting over the take. Juries don’t usually assign death over murder between criminals, so in statistics it doesn’t look like killers of blacks get death as often.

  • Carstonio

    Some resent religionism and live in Bible belt type locales if not in the Belt, itself. They get very angry.I can understand that feeling. Some believers in those areas also claim that Jews are doomed to hell from birth, and I don’t know if I would have the patience to tolerate that if I were Jewish.I wonder if we’d all be fine if believers would simply keep it to themselves. Would atheists do the same?Personally I don’t like that argument, because it sounds too much like “there wouldn’t be homophobia if gays would stay in the closet.” While I don’t personally like proselytizing, I think both believers or atheists should be able talk about what their stances means to them.

  • Carstonio

    Juries don’t usually assign death over murder between criminals, so in statistics it doesn’t look like killers of blacks get death as often.That may explain part of the disparity but not all of it. Even when looking at killings that stem from disputes among spouses or friends (which make up a huge percentage of the non-drug-trade killings), the bias toward white victims seems to be there as well. It’s telling that the woman-in-jeopardy stories in the media focus almost exclusively on white women, and almost exclusively on the attractive ones at that.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Personally I don’t like that argument, because it sounds too much like “there wouldn’t be homophobia if gays would stay in the closet.” While I don’t personally like proselytizing, I think both believers or atheists should be able talk about what their stances means to them.Basically, as a person born into Judaism, I simply want to be left alone by Js, Cs, Ms, et al. Have your own books, Cs and Ms. Leave Tanakh alone. Js, I’m sorry. But, then Js don’t hassle me much about my unbelief.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    A lot of what we might call the “excess” of black-black homicide is also criminal-criminal homicide, like one drug dealer shooting another or two guys who did a robbery killing together fighting over the take. Juries don’t usually assign death over murder between criminals, so in statistics it doesn’t look like killers of blacks get death as often.

  • ThomasBaum

    FarnazMansouri2 You wrote, “It is true that Atheists have an unfortunate attitude toward believers. It is wretched and condescending.”I do not believe that you meant this as an all encompassing statement as it is presented but not all atheists are anti-theists just as not all theists are anti-atheists.Some of each actually listen to each other and some of each don’t.Unless one listens, how can one know what someone else actually has to say.Some see a “label”, others see a person.Both of the above “groups” are represented in all of the possible “labels” here on earth.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Thomas Baum,Agreed.Farnaz

  • ThomasBaum

    Carstonio You wrote, “Still, I doubt that an atheist calling non-atheists stupid is the equal of a believer saying that non-believers deserve to suffer for eternity.”I would reckon that people, in both categories of whom you are speaking, are in for a rude awakening.In some ways, does it not seem that it is just two sides of the same coin speaking?If “believers” would actually believe what God speaks about in the bible they would not be so quick to making themself the “Judge”.As I have said, some non-believers are more Christian in their hearts than some “Christians” and some “Christians” seem to know less about God, not counting God’s Name, than some of those that do not even believe that God Is.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Carstonio

    If “believers” would actually believe what God speaks about in the bible they would not be so quick to making themself the “Judge”.You have a valid argument about the folly of judging. My point was that some types of judging are worse than others, even when the intent is the same. I mentioned the specific belief about Jews and hell, and there is also the belief that all Jews carry the guilt from the death of Jesus. I’ve often wondered why more Jews weren’t provoked to blows when Christians said such libelous things.

  • WmarkW

    Another of the joys of multiculturalism.Immigrants’ Lawyers Using Culture as Crime DefenseNEWARK, N.J. (AP) – The lawyer for an African woman charged with smuggling young girls from Togo to New Jersey said her trial was about cultural norms that failed to translate in America. Twelve American jurors saw it as a clear-cut example of human trafficking, and she was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    MARK: YOU NEVER FINISHED OUR LAST CHAT–I’VE REPOSTED. YOU DON’T HAVE TO REPLY, OF COURSE. JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE YOU SAW IT.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,I must be missing something here. I’m looking for something that would be politically incorrect to say, but I don’t see it.Don’t really see anything politically correct to say. A lot of black and white people kill people. Are you thinking in terms of percentage relative to the population? Also, it looks like more white people are getting executed.But then I’m doing five things at one time.How does all this figure in the PC index, setting aside gang on gang violence for a moment?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    Every example of political correctness has been about trivial or unusual things. Rather than saying, “that movie plot line has been contrived by political correctness, to project a black actor in a more promient role than is plausible … “why not say,” … I don’t think the black actor’s character was plausible … “Maybe more likely, the movie makers sought to appeal to a wider audience, and therefore, make more money.It is a trivial and obscure example. It doesn’t matter. There are many movie roles in which the character determines the race of the actor, in order to be plausible and credible, and such people are cast for the proper parts all of the time, and there is no fuss about it. I think when movie makers jumble up the races of the characters in movies, in which race would usually be important, they are doing it more to experiment, than to be “politically correct.”Anyway, as I said, it seems like a pointless and trival example. What does it prove to point this out? How is it relevant to anything worthwhile?I don’t care if a particular movie maker has miscast his characters, giving more importance to black actors than the story would normally call for; if I like the move, I like it, and if I don’t, then I don’t. I wouldn’t pretend to like or dislike a movie according to some imagined criteria of political correctness.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    A number of years ago, I saw a play, “A Streetcar Named Desire” which I was very famliar with. In this production of the play, a black actor was cast in the role of Mitch, even though all of the other characters remained white. Therefore, we end up with Blanche Dubois, a faded southern aristocratic woman of the 1940′s, seeing this black man as a real catch, and trying to get him to marry her.It just fell flat. It went “PLOP.” It was terrible. It didn’t make any sense at all. Actually, I got up and left, half way through. Does that make me racist? I do not think it does; the play lost its orientation because the characters would never behave the way they did in the play. Does it make the producer politically correct? I don’t think so; I think she thougt she was being avant-guarde and experimental; and I am sure that she regretted it, because it was a real failure.But that is life.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,Then isn’t there something about 39 per cent of something? And the per cent most likely to commit rape?And how about those tunnels to California?Not PC, am I right?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    DITLD,On Streetcar, I would have thrown up at that production.But the better question is what Tennessee would have done. Think about it Daniel. Mitch would not have been his issue. Stanley Kowalski was as far as he could have safely gone. And how many levels of irony he perceived, we ill never know. Do you see?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    DITLD,I must go. I’m sure you understand me re Streetcar. Kowalski = Polish (not).Farnaz

  • WmarkW

    This thread has drifted somewhat because important issues came up, but I’d prefer to focus on the existence of an open debate environment. The institutions which most pride themselves on being forums for vigorous debate — journalism, politics and academia — have actually become the most co-opted by political correctness dogmas about comfort/affliction. Topics about ability differences between groups are treated as heresies, unless the comfort-needing group measures better. Susan’s a Director at something called the Center for Inquiry whose seminal publication is called Free Inquiry. Is anyone there really free to investigate ability differences between demographic groups, unless they reach the politically correct conclusion?Remember: This is a question about the discussion environment, not advocacy of any position.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    But what if someone (like me) hasn’t researched crime to the level of detail where a certain percentage of various crimes are committed by varying percentages of different ethnic groups and races?I have only been the victim of a crime once; a man forced me to take money out the ATM machine for him, at gun point, and he was white. When it was over, I was just glad to be rid of him, and did not think much about race. Of course, he was never caught, and I never got my money back. I have also been victimized by a number of

  • Carstonio

    Topics about ability differences between groups are treated as heresies, unless the comfort-needing group measures better.That’s too simplistic. It’s almost impossible to gauge how much of the “ability differences” come from innate traits and how much come from environmental factors. The word “ability” in this context implies that the differences are always innate, and we shouldn’t make that assumption.Plus, demographic groups aren’t homogeneous, and what we know as “race” is really a social construct. Framing the issue in terms of ability wrongly treats each group as if all members had that level of ability. The idea originated as a pseudoscience to justify divisions based on ethnicity and race. When Al Campanis declared that blacks don’t have the ability to be baseball managers, and then argued that they also don’t have the buoyancy to swim, many people fumed at the former and guffawed at the latter, but the two falsehoods were of a piece.

  • WmarkW

    When Al Campanis declared that blacks don’t have the ability to be baseball managers, and then argued that they also don’t have the buoyancy to swim, many people fumed at the former and guffawed at the latter, but the two falsehoods were of a piece.Looking at the subject matter of this column, Campanis got in trouble because he wasn’t articulate in the coded language of racial discussion. The fact that people are required to speak in it, is itself a problem.

  • Carstonio

    Campanis said blacks lack the “necessities” to be front-office managers. He tried to explain later that he meant that the disproportionate number of black players in sports come primarily from uneducated impoverished backgrounds. And that they therefore lack the skills to be executives, even in a field they know well as employees. Oh, please. Considering his ignorant comment about buoyancy, he was probably just covering his own ass, or even trying to rationalize his ignorance. There was no reason to treat his explanation for his comment with any seriousness.

  • Carstonio

    The fact that people are required to speak in it, is itself a problem.Even if we assume that you’re right, the larger problem is still the discrimination and the power imbalance that affects people who aren’t white or male or Christian. Obviously discrimination is still wrong in principle no matter who practices it and who is victimized by it. But treating “political correctness” as though it’s a problem of greater or even equal concern ignores the fact that thos traits I named still considered norms in our culture. I have two of those three traits and I know damn well that I’ve had advantages and opportunities because of those. Complaining about how “political correctness” affects people with my traits is somewhat like a moderately well-off person complaining about having to drive a Camry instead of an Escalade when the person hearing the complaints can’t even afford a car.

  • backspace1

    I don’t think the death penalty sub-thread specifically addresses political incorrectness. It was an offshoot from another discussion, but isn’t on today’s main topic.(?):)Archimedes Principle? I don’t dive anymore, go get your diving lessons from a educated and certified intructor. Btw. can anybody recommend a manufacturer that could help bring products to the market?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    “Archimedes principle?”More like the Sword of Damocles.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Mark,”An open debate” environment sounds lofty and fine in the abstract. But we must think about its history in mundane and concrete.Agree, it’s worth a shot. Ground rules would have to be established, though, since otherwise the “open debate environment” would disintegrate into Palin vs. the angels, no?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    WmarkwAll companies sell things. They want as many customers as they can get, so they sell as much of their product as they can, so they can make as much money as they can.What you call “political correctness” is really just being respectful to potential customers. What you call the special code of race language is really speaking about race in a way that does not offend non-white customers. Learning the “special code” of respect is not hard. After all, there is also a racist code of expression that people use all the time, and people don’t seem to have a hard time keeping up with that.The pressure that you feel to conform to simple rules of respect is not coming from some liberal panel of political correctness; it is coming from corporations that want to make a lot of money and get rich, by selling things, not just to white people, but to anyone of any race who has the money to pay.

  • ThomasBaum

    Carstonio You wrote, “I mentioned the specific belief about Jews and hell”What is this specific belief?You then wrote, “there is also the belief that all Jews carry the guilt from the death of Jesus”If a Christian were to truly believe that Jesus took their sins upon Himself then it seems to me that that person should come to the conclusion that they, personally, are responsible for Jesus’s death even tho Jesus voluntarily did this for them and it was not just “Christians” that Jesus did this for.I often wonder why or how so many “Christians” seem to put it out of their minds that Jesus was born a Jew, lived as a Jew and died a Jew.Literally speaking, it wasn’t even the Jews who put Jesus to death, it was the Romans since the Jewish nation of that time did not have the “authority” to execute, at least legally.Something isn’t it that God chooses a People and other people take it upon themselves to unchoose them, the height of arrogance.You then wrote, “I’ve often wondered why more Jews weren’t provoked to blows when Christians said such libelous things”Maybe in a way that we cannot understand it shows that the Jews are still the Chosen People and also goes to show that some of these “Christians” are the spitting image of those yelling “Crucify Him”.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • backspace1

    no takers…?Boyles law? suppression?

  • Carstonio

    Having faith in a mystical reality without evidence is supposedly a sign of irrationality…Having faith that there is no inherent statistical differences between racial groups, in the face of evidence to the contrary, is not irrational.Besides the fact that the two stances have no connection to one another, no one here is even arguing anything like the latter stance. Of course those statistical difference exist. The two issues at stake are the causes of those differences, and the recognition of individual variations within those groups (or the failure to recognize those variations).But here’s a story about a potential cost of PC thinking: the Berkeley CA public school system proposed (don’t know the final disposition) cutting out science labs because they were made up of too many white and Asian students and not enough Hispanics and blacks. While I strongly disapprove of the measure, your description of the motive is not quite accurate, wrongly treating it as an attempt to oppress white students. The article makes it clear that the motive was to allocate educational resources to those students who need the most help. Nothing wrong in principle with that goal, but the method chosen is wrong on numerous levels. It amounts to building shelter for island castaways through scuttling the rescue ship for timber.What is this specific belief?It’s the belief held by some Christians that Jews are doomed to hell from birth.Maybe in a way that we cannot understand it shows that the Jews are still the Chosen People and also goes to show that some of these “Christians” are the spitting image of those yelling “Crucify Him”.No argument about the latter, and I take no position on the former. I was proposing that the hateful beliefs about Jews amount to pushing around or bullying the Jewish people.

  • joe_allen_doty

    This blogging woman has no faith at all; why is she even included here when she’s anti-Christ in her beliefs?

  • edbyronadams

    “Besides the fact that the two stances have no connection to one another, no one here is even arguing anything like the latter stance. Of course those statistical difference exist. The two issues at stake are the causes of those differences, and the recognition of individual variations within those groups (or the failure to recognize those variations).”In fact public policy is based on the assumption that there are no immutable differences, something taken on faith. Furthermore it is career suicide for any academic to try to tease out what is nature and what is nurture, beside the public policy of the grant giving machinery making the entire subject off limits.

  • backspace1

    they all breath the same air…I’m sorry, i don’t belong, here.

  • ThomasBaum

    CarstonioYou wrote, “It’s the belief held by some Christians that Jews are doomed to hell from birth.”Is this even if they become “Christian”?Or is this one of their “selling points”?PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS, sad that some don’t have a clue what the Good News is or what Proclaim even seems to mean.There are some “Christians” that seem to think that God is an egotistical maniac rather than a Being of Pure Love, Who is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof.You also wrote, ” I was proposing that the hateful beliefs about Jews amount to pushing around or bullying the Jewish people.”I agree to a point but I think that you are being a little mild, to say the least, in the hateful, pitiful way that some who call themselves “Christians” have treated Jewish people, just because they are Jewish, thru this age.Of course, it has not just been “Christians” that have been, shall we say, unnice to the Jews, just another thing that points to the Jews still being the Chosen People.By the way, being the Chosen People does not, in any way, mean that they are better or anything of the sort, it just means that they are the Chosen People, chosen and formed by God.I don’t know but I’m guessing that you have heard the phrase “Faith is a gift, that no one may boast”, seems to me that there are quite a few “Christians” who are very boastful and also not very Christian in their boasting.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • brendanrau

    Political correctness exists, and a sure hallmark of a politically correct partisan is that (s)he denies the existence of political correctness and then accuses the person who alluded to the existence of political correctness of somehow being sexist, racist, or classist—in other words, of being politically incorrect.Central to political correctness is a kind of sexual holy war based on the notion that sexuality is 100% socially constructed; that heterosexuality has no basis in biology and is the model for all forms of oppression, be it sexual, racial, or economic; that men are invariably privileged at the expense of women; and that radical deconstruction of gender roles (always, of course, favoring women at the expense of men) by any means necessary is the only way an egalitarian society can come about.Identity politics based on oppositions of race and class too is integral to political correctness, but merely to underscore the moral superiority of the sexual holy warrior to those who dissent. Dissent is not welcome in politically correct circles, because the acknowledgement that nature exists outside language is not welcome; if nature cannot be altered by censorship, speech codes, sex codes, Take Back the Night rallies, and left-wing political posturing, then the whole P.C. project is but a colossal, totalitarian sham.

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