The Divisiveness of Political Correctness

“Political correctness is destroying western culture”
“Well, you’re a racist”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Internet. Created to be the most advanced form of communication that society has ever seen, it has now become the greatest platform for mass miscommunication, such as the kind displayed above. One of the issues that has been diving the internet lately, and even larger parts of society as a whole, is the issue of political correctness. Are we going too soft as a society and stifling free speech, or are we too insensitive and bigoted? The truth is, both sides are wrong to a certain extent.

Before continuing, it is important to acknowledge where both sides are coming from. On the politically correct side, there is a lot of history behind their worries. Minority groups, both ethnic and religious, have a long history of persecution in the western world. From slavery and Japanese internment to male-only voting and marital ownership (no, seriously it was only officially struck down in 1981), the western world, especially America, has a bad history of dealing with minorities and women. Even more recently, racial profiling of people with Arabic and African descent, as well as rampant online harassment of women, has shown that we still have a long path ahead. Therefore, people who feel as though they have to stop this are more inclined to jump on anything they can to prevent any sort of subtle bigotry.

On the anti-PC side, there is an entirely different, but just as strong feeling. They see minor slights being punished heavily, and a rapid change of society towards completely integrating transgendered individuals who seemed to have popped up out of nowhere over the last few decades. To those on the conservative side of the social spectrum, or even the centrist liberal, it seems society has left them behind, and if they don’t comply, they’ll be crucified. Some even believe that the very concept of free speech is under attack.

What must be emphasized is that both sides generally blow their problems out of proportion. We’re not living in the middle ages just because someone misgendered a transgendered individual, and you’re not going to get thrown in jail for criticizing Islam. However, there are some hard truths that both sides have to face.

First, to the side of political correctness:

  • If someone makes an honest mistake or misstatement, the worst thing you can do is harass them about it. That just makes them more hostile to you. Instead, just offer a polite correction. If they respond negatively to that, it’s their problem at that point.
  • When someone brings up the statistics that African-Americans commit crimes at a higher rate than other races, or that many terrorists are Muslim, don’t just flat-out deny it. It just makes you seem anti-facts. Instead, acknowledge it, but also acknowledge the situations that lead to these facts, as those are the problems that need to be fixed.
  • Pretty much everyone who criticizes you feels like they’re in the right in some way, so don’t treat them like a super-villain. They’re just a person with a different worldview. If you want to change that worldview, you’re going to have to see them as another well-meaning human being.

And now, to the anti-PC crowd:

  • Just because African-Americans have higher crime rates or Muslims have more high-profile terrorist attacks, doesn’t mean that it’s fair to paint these groups with a broad brush. There are a huge number of innocent people in these groups who read things written about them that push them towards a more radical view. Words do matter, as inconsequential as they may seem.
  • Make sure that any statistics that you use are coming from a reputable source. Any far-right source like Breitbart or The Drudge Report most likely has an ulterior motive, and it makes them much less reliable in terms of publishing reliable data. The same goes for far-left sources.
  • As was stated earlier, the people who are criticizing are human beings too, and most likely feel that they are doing the right thing. If you want to change their viewpoint, you can’t do it by insulting them or dismissing them entirely.

At the end of the day, if you just want to argue, then just argue. There are plenty of places to do it, and plenty of people willing to participate. But if you want to truly help out in the world, start by realizing that the world is not ending, and those you disagree with are not your enemies. Reach across the aisle, and maybe you’ll find there’s a few more hands reaching across the aisle towards you.