Sam Seitz

*Disclaimer: these are entirely my personal views, and this piece is not about policy or political theory of any kind. If you like Trump a lot, it may not be for you. If you love censorship, it may not be for you either (though honestly, you should probably read it). Also, I 100% recognize the irony of putting a trigger warning at the beginning of a post about PC culture.

As one of the rare liberals who gets fed up with the incessant calls for political correctness, I can empathize to some degree with conservatives in general and Trump supporters in particular. I think Leftists have gone way too far in their fear of offending to the point that having meaningful or engaging dialogue is often impossible. One crazy anecdote comes to mind right away. Here at Georgetown, the South East Asian Students Association (SEASA) offered an intro class on basic Hindi. These students, as well as a few professors, were offering their time for free to help interested students learn the basics of a new language. One might assume that their charity was lauded. It wasn’t. The reason? The fliers said Hindi and not Urdu. Therefore, they were deemed offensive to Pakistanis. What?! This culture of fake anger over nothing is irritating beyond belief. Intent matters. Sadly, people seeking attention don’t care and pretend to see hostility where none exists. It was obvious that SEASA – a group that includes Pakistanis, by the way – was not making a political statement with their flier, and they certainly weren’t trying to put down Pakistanis. Nevertheless, someone had to get “offended.”

The problem with this fake outrage, and I do think most of it is fake, is twofold. First, it discredits actual hate speech. What the KKK says, for example, is repugnant and disgusting, and they aren’t mincing words. But when you conflate a student group not listing one particular language with racist or bigoted statements from organizations like the KKK, you are diminishing the awfulness of groups who seek to go out of their way to offend and belittle. In other words, there is a meaningful distinction between offending accidentally and deliberately trying to incite or provoke, and failing to distinguish between the two makes you look like a fool. The second is that it allows Trumpists and other extremists to make straw man arguments that justify (at least in their mind) the absolutely disgusting and racist positions they hold. For example, in the name of “saying what people feel,” Trump and/or his supporters have shouted Sieg Heil, failed to condemn David Duke, wanted to ban Muslims from entering the country, and pine for the good ole’ days of slavery. That is not being politically incorrect; that is being racist, bigoted, and fascist. Period. However, left-wing lunacy regarding speech codes allows Trump supporters to pretend that they are just “telling it as it is.” Now, to be absolutely clear, I am not arguing that political correctness is an excuse or the primary cause of the abhorrent things Trump and his supporters have said. What I am saying, though, is it sure would be easier to call out Trump’s people for their nonsense if their anger at PC culture didn’t have some degree of legitimacy.

There is enough blame to go around, though, so don’t think it’s just the liberals at fault here. Republicans are just as ludicrous with their politically correct nonsense as their left-leaning colleagues. For them, though, it’s not even as defensible. At least the liberal position, as absurd as it has become, is rooted in an attempt to be welcoming to other groups and cultures (especially those that have been historically oppressed). The Republicans, by contrast, are politically correct about purely partisan things. For example, one can never criticize Israel. This despite the fact that Israel has, to be mild, on many occasions violated international law, and, to be blunt, has probably knowingly committed war crimes. Another great example is the Iraq War. During the South Carolina debate, it became clear that Republicans felt that it was politically incorrect to say Iraq was a mistake. When Trump said there were no WMDs in Iraq, one of the first unambiguously true statements to emerge from his mouth, the crowd booed. News flash, THERE WERE NO WMDS IN IRAQ! Just because Republicans don’t want to hear it doesn’t mean it isn’t true, and booing and jeering at unpopular facts is just as indefensible as the tomfoolery of the “coddled college kids” Republicans are so fond of ridiculing. One can’t with a straight face say that banning controversial speakers from campus is any different from banning facts about a war that one party would rather forget.

In sum, I just wish people would be more reasonable and develop a thicker skin. Most of the “politically incorrect” things people complain about are nothing more than honest mistakes or mild jokes. However, some things are legitimately unacceptable, and we must draw a line between slightly controversial or unintentionally offensive comments and deliberately offensive or false. For example, it should be fine to refer to immigrants who have enered the U.S. by illicit means as illegal immigrants. It should not be acceptable to stereotype them as rapists and murders. This, by the way, is where I have a problem with Trump. The claim that he is merely fighting against political correctness is simply asinine buffoonery. It is nothing more than a ruse to shout racist garbage while maintaining a veneer of credibility. I’ll give every dollar I have to someone who can explain to me how Trump knows for a fact that most illegal Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers and that Muslims are evil, yet isn’t quite sure about whether the KKK deserves to be condemned. This man who claims to be above politics is just as bad as Hillary, shifting his views to fit his constituency. Either Trump is a flagrant racist who is OK with the KKK, or he is pretending to be OK with them to curry favor among bigoted, uneducated southerners (aka shifting and flip-flopping like a professional politician even though his supporters swear he is nothing like the corrupt Washington establishment). Either way, it doesn’t look good for him. I am sick and tired of the Left getting offended by anything and everything, and I am even more fed up with Right pretending that they don’t also engage in politically correct censoring. Honestly, though, neither of those things bother me too much. What really makes me livid is that there are so many people in this country who are willing to put a raving, lying, racist into the White House. I cannot believe that after all we have accomplished as a country, an anti-Muslim, KKK condoning, walking sweet potato of a man is seriously going to win the nomination of one of the two great parties of this nation. So, I wish PC culture wasn’t as out of control as it is, but if it’s necessary to stop the demagogic ignoramus of a man that is Donald Trump, I’ll accept it with a smile.