Being politically correct is not coddling, leaders like Trump need to step up

Troy Wilkinson

It’s hard for me to believe that Donald Trump is rising in the polls, but he is — even with his blunt and misogynistic comments, like saying Carly Fiorina’s face is the reason she wouldn’t get votes, or his classic comments about Mexico sending their criminals to America. Despite his patriarchal bias and sexist comments, he is becoming more popular even with women.

There are probably several factors leading to his popularity — frustration with immigration, frustration with unemployment and frustration toward the whole government for not solving everyone’s problems yet. But among all the factors for why he is gaining in popularity, no other reason is more impactful than people’s frustration with the movement of inclusivity, which shows the bigger-picture problems with being politically correct (PC).

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Trump is the anti-PC man — it even comes off like he welcomes racism a majority of the time. During one of his speeches, he was asked by someone from the crowd, “When can we get rid of all the Muslims?” and he saw absolutely no problem with that question. He responded by saying, “We’re going to be looking into a lot of different things.” Just the fact that such a viewpoint was validated and remained unquestioned is enough to warrant concern.

The heart of Trump’s campaign are his unfiltered, blunt comments, almost all of which are far from inclusive and far from politically correct. As the movement for a politically-correct culture starts to take off, people are reluctant and even combative to that change. That conflict of ideals between those who believe in being politically correct and those who don’t is shown by Trump’s popularity.

Much of why the idea of a PC culture frustrated people and why it is seen as negative is because there’s a perception that being politically correct means making the world a fluffy, safe place where nobody can ever be hurt. America has a large population, and I would argue that much of the population believes being politically correct can lead to overly-sensitive individuals and a dismissal of any discussion or viewpoint that is even close to being offensive yet potentially important to discuss.

Obama recently disagreed with politically-correct culture, saying it “coddled” students, pointing to college campuses that ban books that have demeaning content toward women in order to maintain an inclusive and politically-correct environment. “South Park’s” premiere episode for season 19 focused on the ridiculousness of PC culture and though it may have had valid points, it was extremely exaggerated. These rejections of PC culture and inclusivity are based off of what those two things are not and should never be.

Being PC should not be coddling. It should, however, be respectful. It means acting in a way that treats every person as an individual — an individual who has their own background, perspectives, identities and should be respected as such. It’s largely about avoiding generalizations and avoiding submitting to social systems that have oppressed different groups for a long time. The fact is that it’s hard to see the struggles that come from being a woman, transgender, homosexual or a different race than the majority, and it’s important for everyone to be cognizant of that. That is what being politically correct is to me — being aware and respectful of different perspectives, backgrounds and the oppressive culture that non-dominant identities face.

So when someone asks, “When can we get rid of all the Muslims?” the politically correct and inclusive response is to ask, “Not all Muslims are the same, so what is your reasoning behind that? Why must we get rid of them?”

This way of talking and thinking leads to a society that values difference instead of oppressing it. Being politically correct and inclusive, especially when coming from political leaders, leads to and encourages critical thinking versus enforcing close-mindedness.

Collegian Columnist Troy Wilkinson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BluMitts.