It seems that one of the issues that unites almost all the Republican candidates who are running for president is disgust with the idea of political correctness. It has especially become the rallying cry for Trump and Carson.
When I think of the term, I am immediately reminded of how Lee Atwater described the Southern Strategy in 1981 (excuse the language – it is his, not mine).
You start out in 1954 by saying, “N****r, n****r, n****r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n****r” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****r, n****r.”
That, my friends, is the root of political correctness. Conservatives recognized that an openly racist platform backfired.
Republicans are more than welcome to go back to the language they used in 1954. Not many of us have been fooled by their “dog whistles” since then anyway. But when they do, they can also expect to be called out as the racist bigots that kind of thing demonstrates. You see…free speech doesn’t simply apply to those who want to be free to say obnoxious things. The rest of us are also free to exercise our own rights to call them out.
We’ve all been witness lately to the fact that Donald Trump is free to suggest that Mexican immigrants are criminals and racists. He’s even free to run for president on a platform of “deport ’em all.” And Ben Carson is free to suggest that the United States should discard things like the Geneva Conventions and torture prisoners of war.
When people complain about political correctness, they are suggesting that they want the freedom to say obnoxious hateful things. But they have always been free to do so. Just don’t expect the rest of us to be quiet when they do. In other words, expect it to backfire.