Uncommon Sense

May 19, 2016

Trump, Political Correctness, and the New Racism

If you view the 20th Century from afar, you can see the tide of racism at ebb. The reasons for this reduction in racism were both political and social (hard to separate the two). It became more and more illegal to discriminate against someone for superfluous reasons (gender, skin color, ethnicity, sexual identification, etc.) and socially it became less and less acceptable to utter racist comments. A stereotype was created, for example, of one’s racist uncle who said things as family gatherings that were quite inappropriate, but those statements were common fare for all those gathered not that long ago. But slowly we achieved a society in which saying anything appearing to be racist or sexist acquired swift approbation.

Then along came “political correctness,” the criticism of which is pushback against the pushback against racism. As this pot slowly bubbled on the back burner, along came the Internet. The Internet allowed anonymity to people making comments, freeing them from any social approbation for making racist or sexist comments and Internet Trolls were born (some with their own websites). Then along came Trump.

Internet Trolls acquire their power from their namelessness and invisibility to social checks and balances. But Candidate Trump has openly made racist comments, under no such protection, and has been very, very successful. If a candidate for the highest political office in the land can make racist and sexist declarations and succeed politically while doing it, then why should others refrain? Who has higher political and social standing than our President, the first among equals?

The New Racism is, yes, the Old Racism. It hasn’t changed but it was slowly being driven out of our culture. I fear now that, as we continue as a society, its expression will be more and more open. Those criticizing it will be accused of rampant political correctness. Those freed from such societal constraints as were being constructed will become more and more prominent in our discourse.

The source of this cancer on our society is the inability of people to accept responsibility for their own lives. Instead, if their life is shitty, it is the fault of “Others.” We are not responsible for all of the negative impacts on our lives, we are only responsible for how we respond to them. Blaming groups of “Others” in a blanket fashion can salve an ego, but only a very small ego, one possessed by a very small person.

If I were to urge all of us to adopt the wisdom of the ages, I would refer us to the wisdom of Rodney King: “Can’t we all (just) get along?”

(Note: Mr. King did not include the word “just” but we have added it collectively because the question then more closely conforms to the desire of people to just get on with their lives without being judged based upon irrelevant criteria.)

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.