Posts Tagged ‘Political Correctness’

We’ve all heard the cringe-inducing jargon: white privilege, white skin privilege, woke (self-congratulatory term of the day), phallocracy (yes, a real PC term), differently abled, safe space, triggered, Latinx (obviously better than o/a), exceptional (retarded), and the granddaddy of all this awkwardness, “people of,” and  so on.

First: Who the hell came up with these terms? Second: Who the hell uses them? Third: Why? Fourth: What on earth purpose does this serve? Fifth: Who benefits?

1) Well, no one really knows. A decent guess is that well-off, guilt-ridden white PC academics in Ivy League or other $40,000-a-year-tuition universities, and possibly members of authoritarian marxist political parties, came up with this crap;

2) The just-mentioned white academics and holier-than-thou left political activists who don’t give a shit about alienating everyday people — activists (at least in word) who want to signal their virtue, people who have never lived in a ghetto or barrio and are separated by an income gap from those of us stuck here;

3) The surface reason is that they want to “educate” people about “privilege.” A secondary reason is that they don’t understand what four decades ago Audre Lourde called the “hierarchy of oppression,” and don’t give a shit about organizing the unorganized and building solidarity across racial and gender lines.

What better way to appeal to (white and especially male) people barely making the rent, without health insurance, and in fear of job loss than to tell them they’re “privileged,” and (unspoken) should be ashamed of it and themselves? Why on earth wouldn’t they rally to your cause? Why on earth talk to people about the actual hierarchy of oppression and their place in it, when you can use insulting, guilt-inducing terms to gloss over all the many and important gradations, paint the less oppressed as “privileged,” and pat yourselves on the back for how enlightened you are?

4) As mentioned above, the purpose of using such terms is virtue-signalling: letting the world know that you’re “woke.” Not remotely making the world a better place.

5) The only people this serves are right-wing theofascists, such as Trump, who want to paint a grotesque image of those opposed to them as holier-than-thou, out-of-touch elitists. Referring to poor and working class people who aren’t as oppressed as others as “privileged,” rather than “less oppressed,” is both grotesque and insulting. It’s hard to imagine a more effective divide-and-conquer strategy.

Referring accurately to all of the oppressed as oppressed leads to solidarity. On the other, referring to the less oppressed as “privileged” is not only inaccurate, it leads to warfare within the poor and working classes. Divide and conquer.

Condescending, reductionistic PC terminology plays into Trump’s and the other ruling-class theofascists’ hands.

How utterly disgusting.

One of the most depressing aspects of what passes for modern political discourse is the tendency on both the left and right to engage in collective guilt tripping. You hear this crap constantly: it’s all the fault of the boomers, men, millennials, women, feminists, blacks, whites, godless atheists (a bit redundant there, eh?), immigrants, Muslims, latinos, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseam. (Perhaps even more depressing is the guilt and self-loathing of white liberals who buy into this shit.)

There are several problems with the overly broad assignment of guilt (for damn near anything and everything you can think of). The first is that it’s lazy. It’s a ridiculously easy “analysis.”

The second is that it allows the demonizer to feel superior to the broad class of demonized (whites, blacks, latinos, men, “feminazis,” gay people, Jewish folks, whoever) simply because the demonizer is not a member of the demonized per se evil class. (Never mind what s/he is doing with their own life, never mind that they’re often a pathetic piece of human waste — they’re not a member of the cursed class, so they’re automatically virtuous; at present, this form of mental sickness is most pronounced in the outbreak of white supremacism and its related misogyny/homophobia.)

The third is that collective guilt lets those guilty of real evil off the hook. For instance, if you assign all Germans (including those not even born yet when it occurred) guilt for the Holocaust, it lessens if not eliminates the individual guilt of the murderers. This equal-opportunity guilt/blame places those who fought against and fled the Nazis on the same moral footing as those who perpetrated the horrors. But, gosh, isn’t it convenient to assign the guilt simply to “the Germans”? So easy. (The same of course applies to whites as regards the treatment of black people and Native Americans, and men vis a vis the suppression of women: the one-size-fits-all blame-game lets those guilty of real evil off the hook.)

The fourth is that it sets people against each other. As an example, I’ve spent my entire adult life working to eliminate racism, xenophobia, economic exploitation, religious authoritarianism, misogyny, homophobia — all the forms of coercive domination/submission — and I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to feel guilty for being a straight white male (things over which I have no control). While I share a lot of the goals of the blame-culture PC left, they’ve made themselves into my — and humanity’s — enemies, unwitting dupes of the powers-that-be in their divide-and-conquer game, in their blaming of me and countless others for things utterly beyond our control.

If we’re ever going to make real progress, we can’t do it by eating each other alive. Improvements in such things as wealth and income distribution must benefit damn near everyone; if for only certain classes of people, that’ll further divide us.

The fifth, and perhaps most major, problem is that the simplistic assignment of guilt based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc., is that it short circuits critical analysis. There are complicated reasons for almost every major problem. Assigning guilt to classes of people allows those (often unwittingly) serving the powers-that-be to avoid looking at the underlying societal/economic mechanisms that produce the various horrors (mass unemployment, environmental despoliation, restriction of reproductive rights, climate catastrophe, etc.). In other words, mass guilt provides convenient scapegoats. If you don’t look at the underlying mechanisms, and then do something to fix or replace them, you’ll never get anywhere: you’ll just arrive at an endless miasma of guilt, blame, and hate while those on top stay on top.

The sixth and most obvious problem is that assignment of collective guilt leads to atrocities. Such things as the Holocaust (for imaginary offenses), internment of Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps (again, for imaginary offenses), the Israeli government’s bulldozing of the homes of thousands of suspected Palestinian militants (thus punishing their entire families), and the caging of immigrant children (yet again for imaginary offenses).

The next time you hear someone say it’s all the fault of the Jews, the whites, immigrants, men, blacks, women, gays, Muslims, etc., etc., please realize that that person is a bullshit artist. Someone trying to distract you with scapegoats. Someone who wants to let those actually guilty off the hook. Someone who doesn’t want you to look at the underlying problems. Someone who’s however unwittingly a servant of the powers that be.

(I normally don’t have much good to say about Barack Obama — the Great Disappointment, who saved the banks but abandoned the people who elected him — but he really hit the nail on the head with the following comment about “woke,” PC culture.)

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘Man did you see how woke I was? . . .'”

“I’m a white guy. I’m a well-educated intellectual who enjoys small arthouse movies, coffeehouses and classic blues. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably mistake me for a lefty urban hipster.

“And yet. I find some of the alt-right stuff exerts a pull even on me. Even though I’m smart and informed enough to see through it. It’s seductive because I am not a person with any power or privilege, and yet I am constantly bombarded with messages telling me that I’m a cancer, I’m a problem, everything is my fault.

“I am very lower middle class. I’ve never owned a new car, and do my own home repairs as much as I can to save money. I cut my own grass, wash my own dishes, buy my clothes from Walmart. I have no clue how I will ever be able to retire. But oh, brother, to hear the media tell it, I am just drowning in unearned power and privilege, and America will be a much brighter, more loving, more peaceful nation when I finally just keel over and die.

“Trust me: After all that, some of the alt-right stuff feels like a warm, soothing bath. A “safe space,” if you will. I recoil from the uglier stuff, but some of it— the “hey, white guys are actually okay, you know! Be proud of yourself, white man!” stuff is really VERY seductive, and it is only with some intellectual effort that I can resist the pull … If it’s a struggle for someone like me to resist the pull, I imagine it’s probably impossible for someone with less education or cultural exposure.”

— Blog post on “American Conservative,” quoted by Amy Chua in her upcoming Political Tribes; a portion of the book has been excerpted by The Guardian as “How America’s Identity Politics Went from Inclusion to Division.” The excerpt is well worth reading. It’s the best analysis of the identity politics phenomenon I’ve ever seen.

One of the main mocking points of the right is the language of the left, especially PC terms such as the mandatory “people of.”

Here’s a hint as to why using such language is a really dumb thing to do: It’s artificial. In real life — at least around here — No one talks like that.

My neighborhood is about 80% nonwhite, and over the last quarter century while talking with my Mexican, black, and poor white neighbors, I have never heard the words “people of color.”  Never. The black people refer to themselves as black people or African-Americans. The Mexicans refer to themselves as Mexicans or Mexican-Americans, very occasionally chicanos. Not “people of color” — that’s a term for guilty white folks and identity-politics types of any color, who care more about using the correct PC terms than about reaching the people around them (more accurately, reaching the people in poor and working class neighborhoods).

After that disastrous usage and similar off-putting PC terms, things get even worse — totally divorced from reality, totally divorced from daily life.

Let’s take a prime example: “Smash US Imperialism.” What the hell does that mean? “Smash”? Does it have any concrete meaning? No. It’s just metaphorical.

What about “U.S. Imperialism”? That might have some meaning (varying) in hardcore leftist circles, though one suspects it’s close to a ritual incantation. Most of my neighbors would have at best a foggy idea of what that term means.

The point is that “Smash U.S. Imperialism” is just empty political sloganeering. It has nothing to do with daily life.

After such empty rhetoric, incredibly enough, things get even worse.

Condescending identity-politics types will happily lecture people about how they’re woman-haters for refusing to vote for authoritarian warmonger and corporate lapdog Hillary Clinton, and how having a woman in charge will be a huge step forward. (Yep, having Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi at the top of the heap in the UK and India changed everything, didn’t it?)

Even more obnoxiously, holier-than-thou identity politics types will lecture people about how they’re racists just because they’re white. Some of the more dishonest, disrespectful PC types even have the nerve to ask other white people “Are you a racist” in order to manipulate them into being lectured about how all white people are racists.

This type of patronizing PC b.s. does far more harm than good. It unnecessarily alienates people and plays into the stereotype that everyone on the left side of the political spectrum is a condescending jerk.

So, what to do?

If you want to talk with people and actually move them, talk to them about their daily lives. Talk with them about how lacking healthcare means they might die, how their kids might die; talk to them about the shitty schools in the neighborhood; talk to them about the insane cost of higher education; talk to them about how the 1% pay lower taxes than they do, and how they’ll never get ahead as long as that continues.

Talk about daily life, what we’re all going through, and we might even get to hardcore Trump worshippers. When we point out how government and corporate policies play out in daily life, how they affect all of our families, we might get through to people.

Let’s point out why, in concrete terms, our shared pain exists, and we might get somewhere.

Using abstract, PC language and slogans almost guarantees that we won’t.

Talking about daily life is the best, and arguably the only, way to reach people.




Alt-country player Al Perry’s song and video, “Jukebox Jihad,” has evidently fallen victim to the PC police — outraged by, what else?, “islamophobia” — and has been taken down by Youtube. (We put “censored” in quotes in the headline, because it’s within Youtube’s rights to only host what they want; but the political intent, the desire to restrict political speech, is obvious.)

Here’s the takedown notice:

If you haven’t heard the song, “Jukebox Jihad” is a rockabilly tune, light, funny mockery (admittedly in questionable taste) of the murderous religious fanatics who have slaughtered and enslaved tens, probably hundreds, of thousands of people, most of whom were/are their fellow Muslims.

We loathe attacks on free speech. We loathe anything smacking of censorship. And we loathe those who think they know what others should be allowed to see and hear.

So, we’ve just put up the “Jukebox Jihad” video on the See Sharp Press web site. I spoke with Al earlier this evening, and he encourages others to download “Jukebox Jihad” and put it up on their own sites.

Without further ado, here’s the link to “Jukebox Jihad.”

“A critical but overlooked aspect of the human dimensions of glaciers and global change research is the relationship between gender and glaciers. While there has been relatively little research on gender and global environmental change in general (Moosa and Tuana, 2014; Arora-Jonsson, 2011), there is even less from a feminist perspective that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology [citations].”
(This gem is from the second page. This paper is not, I repeat not, a deliberate joke. If I ever get the time, I’ll mine this PC gold mine for more nuggets.)