Saturday, January 30, 2016

When Political Correctness Trumps Being Incorrect

Let's start with this case in point.
Many political commentators have detailed quite cogent arguments explaining Donald Trump's mysterious appeal - some of which have described his use of brief language as "refreshingly clear and forthright" in comparison to the convoluted prose of his more politically experienced counterparts.

The appeal is not hard to comprehend. To citizens frustrated with the tradition of empty promises from politicians, Trump's plain speak brings new cadence & direction to politics. His response to critics of his method & to those who are fine with the norm of political jargon is where that direction seems especially off-putting:

"I am so tired of this politically correct crap."

The conservative sect of the United States has, in recent decades, championed the cause against being 'P.C.' in a genuine effort to eliminate the overcorrection of language in politics. But Trump, and many establishment politicians, have taken the game to another level.

Trump and those who agree with his brand of politics have strived towards associating political correctness with censorship of free speech. While that may sound like a fair description, the tradition of political correctness has not been bound to the elimination of free speech as it much as it has been concerned with the excessive sophistication of political speech.

In other words, forcing political correctness is not necessarily eliminating the truth from being spoken, it is about overdressing the truth to lessen any potential for controversy or contention.

The fight against political correctness that Donald Trump has championed has less to do with free speech and more to do with consequence-free speech: that is, the ability to speak whatever comes to mind without any regard to societal or emotional impact. That is problematic.

Trump's 'political incorrectness' that has apparently appealed to so many voters does not align with the sincere conservative cause of eliminating 'P.C.' culture. While he has indeed challenged the norm of convoluted speech that has hindered the American political system, he has done so at the system's peril. This is evident in the American public's struggle to differentiate between the manner in which he speaks and the content of his rhetoric.

There is a difference between having the courage to be politically incorrect, and simply being incorrect. Most importantly, there is a difference between speaking honestly and speaking the truth.

And that's the main issue with the prospect of Donald Trump leading a nation. He guises insult in what he defines as straight-talk. He has convinced all who support his cause to 'Make America Great Again' that making repulsive comments is "a revolutionary act, a badge of honor and a long-overdue tipping of society’s scales back toward reason and truth" - as Kathleen Parker so aptly puts it.

In truth, Trump is on the wrong side of that scale. Most often, when his supporters believe what he is saying is refreshingly politically incorrect, he is insinuating a hateful mindset that is merely incorrect. It's not telling it how it is, it's not getting right to the point. It's saying whatever he wants to say sans any regard of potential consequence. Political correctness might be better than the dreadful comments he so often spews.

Calling Megyn Kelly a 'bimbo' would not be politically correct. What Trump fails to realize is that calling her that would not be 'politically incorrect', either. It would simply be incorrect. It would be repulsive and misogynist. Insinuating Mexico 'sends rapists' to the United States is not audacious political incorrectness, it is simply demagoguery. It is hate and xenophobia and untruth so troublingly cloaked.

Ultimately, Trump's brand of political incorrectness, is not political incorrectness at all.

Near the end of that same speech in which Trump proclaimed that people entering the United States from Mexico illegally are murderers and rapists, he stated "the American dream is dead." To his credit, for a man running to lead this nation, that is truly a politically incorrect statement. Rare coming from him. Although, as an optimist, it's hard to believe he's right.

But - if he does somehow succeed in adding the honorable status of POTUS on his résumé, history might regard that as the truest statement Donald Trump ever made.