It's an old song, with a few new words thrown in, those of "political correctness". For a lot of people in the United States, the words "conservatives" and "Republicans" evoke the notion of "a bunch of racists". This is unfair to some extent, but the reason why this association has come about is because of the use of loaded words as a euphemistic shorthand for racist ideas. It dates back, in modern times, to 1948.

South Carolina governor J. Strom Thurmond ran for president, as the nominee of something called the "States Rights Party", a group of Southern Democrats who split from the party over the issue of civil rights championed by newer leaders like Hubert H. Humphrey. While there were elaborate arguments about defending the constitutionally-granted rights of states to handle legislation in those areas not explicitly deemed as a federal responsibility, what the SRP wanted was the right to uphold segregation. They were quickly dubbed the Dixiecrats. "States' rights", when used in debate, had nothing to do with some exalted purist reading of the Constitution - it was just shorthand for "I want to preserve the Jim Crow status quo". Even the federal government's passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 60s failed to totally take the wind from those sails. Now these were Democrats, and this was an intramural matter - why are the Republicans called racists? Next paragraph, please.

The civil-rights wing eventually won this argument, and this left a large chunk of Southern Democrats feeling abandoned by their party. Kevin Phillips, one of (Republican) Richard Nixon's advisors in 1968, devised the "Southern Strategy": play to those disgruntled Dixiecrat votes. George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, was also doing this, as a third-party candidate, but he was a lone wolf of sorts, in that he didn't represent a full-blooded political party. If Nixon could garner a decent amount of support from this alienated segment of the electorate, the Republican Party, longtime also-rans in the South, perhaps due to their original 19th-Century roots as the "Party of Lincoln", an anti-slavery party, could establish a base in the region. While Governor Wallace made a strong showing in '68, Nixon did indeed steal some of his thunder, doing well in the South, and winning the election. A similar "Southern Strategy" by Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980 (adding the evangelical Christian segment of that electorate as well) led to his election, and to the current strong standing of Republicans in that region of the US.

An aside: the Republicans' success in establishing that Southern base can be seen today, with much of the party leadership in recent years coming from those former Confederate states: Newt Gingrich, from Georgia, Tom DeLay and Dick Armey from Texas (home state of George W. Bush as well), Trent Lott from Mississippi. Dennis Hastert, the current Speaker of the House, is from Ohio, but it is thought that DeLay is the real GOP leader in the House of Representatives.

Another loaded word came up in those Nixon years, related to the Southern Strategy: busing, or "forced busing". After the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, calling for the desegregation of public schools, one remedy in practice by the late 60s was forced busing, often elaborate schemes for sending school kids far from their neighborhood schools, so that each school in the school system (a school system sometimes brought about by the merger of a predominantly-white school system with a predominantly-black one) had roughly the same proportion of minority enrollment. Nixon, with his newfound support in the South, tried to play to the anti-busing audience for a while, trying to slow down some the progress of school desegregation. (And it turned out to be not just a Southern issue - busing in Boston became a big issue a few years later, and the Reagan 1980 campaign would build their base of Reagan Democrats by applying a modified Southern Strategy to Northern states). There are certainly good arguments against sending buses hither and yon, but "busing" was a loaded word back then, and being anti-busing was a politician's way of giving a nudge and a wink to a racist audience.

After the rise of affirmative action there rose another code word: "quotas". Again, there are certainly many good arguments against certain implementations of affirmative action, but invoking the name of quotas usually wasn't about making reasoned arguments. The famous "White Hands" ad, in the close senatorial race between incumbent Republican Jesse Helms and (black) Charlotte ex-mayor Harvey Gantt, an ad from the Helms campaign that saturated the airwaves in the latter part of the election, featured just a closeup of a pair of male, caucasian hands at a desk, holding some notice from a prospective employer, IIRC, saying that he'd been passed over as a candidate for the job in favor of a member of a visible minority (presumably a black person). All because of "job quotas". Once the man finishes reading the letter, he crumples it in his white hands. Helms galvanized his voter base, and won the election pretty handily.

This node was brought about because of one called White pride is hateful, black pride is not, this was a hard link created by Justin Johnson, and a nodeshell created by Jet-Poop. The notion of using "white pride" or "white _____" as loaded code words came, perhaps, from David Duke, who also popularized "white power" as an antidote or counterweight to "black power". Again, there are good arguments for Duke's use of these little advertising slogans: what's wrong with having pride in yourself and your roots? But we don't exist in a vacuum. "White _____" was always one of those nudge-and-wink things, and no person can claim to be serious or intelligent while championing, in any way, either the intent or the "fairness" of a "white pride" march. To champion this is either naive or trolling. An oppressed minority saying "_____ power" is not equivalent in any way to a member of an oppressing majority saying "_____ power"; the former is fighting its way out of a longstanding majority-enforced inferiority complex, while the latter is simply trolling. We don't live in some ideal vacuum that would make the two expressions equivalent.

A recent issue is the boycott against all things South Carolinian, due to the state's flying of a confederate flag on its capitol building, IIRC. (Yes, I failed to watch "Know Your Current Events"). This is a both an issue dating back to the civil rights days, and a "pride" issue. The flag of the Confederate States of America, the "stars and bars", was actually one of several flags used by those states that seceded from the US over the issue of slavery (leading to that country's Civil War). And, even back then, circa 1860, I'm sure many explanations for seceding from the union failed to mention the word "slavery" - but the advocacy was implicit in any explanation.

With the rise of militant pro-segregation sentiments in the later civil rights era, it became fashionable again to fly the stars-and-bars in some form or another; Southern state governments and individuals alike flew the flag (or a variant), or attached stickers and decals to their vehicles, practices that continue to this day. It can be, and is, couched often in rhetoric of "pride in one's roots", or "honoring those who fought in the Civil War", but it also evokes the years of Faubus, Wallace, and Thurmond doing their damnedest to keep Jim Crow fully functional. And that latter-day subtext is usually also the intended text. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

And there are those constituencies, pro and con, that hear the words "welfare reform" as "let's stick it to them lazy niggers", regardless of the merits, if any, of this or that piece of reform legislation. There's no escaping it, in this era of sound bites, subtexts, and shorthand.


DMan, not being a native of the US, may have some claim to ignorance of US history, so I'd like to cut him some slack for his cheerleading of what is, in effect, a little trolling game played by a gang at Cornell University, a well-heeled gang, I'm sure, but a gang nonetheless. Bringing in tales of the Hans is irrelevant here - we're talking about the symbolism of centuries of racism in the United States, and the use of American symbols by politicians, in order to pander to still-present racist sentiment. I would urge DMan to stick to Chinese issues until he gains some deeper and more mature knowledge of American ones.


I'm not a member of the Nodeshell Rescue Team :)

Political Correctness is not anti-rascist, it is pro-fascist. Rascism is just one of the things that it is fascist about.

Many people, like myself, detest political correctness. And by the way, YES, I understand the roots of political correctness, NO I am not a racist.

Political correctness is generally about issues like avoiding ethnically offensive language. This, on the whole, is a good thing. Ethnically offensive language makes for more social friction, which is bad.

The problem, at least that I have, with political correctness, is the tactics. Getting people fired, ruining people's lives. And any attempt to oppose political correctness, or in fact any "liberal" political position, is met with accusations about racism, sexism, etc. Never is there an issue-oriented debate. Never is argument met with argument.

This is bad - this is very bad. It stops debate, and it doesn't do much to solve the problem. An eye for an eye is a principle of ethics that says the -MOST- you can do as punishment is for the punishment to fit the crime. This is not the case when a businessman tells a sexist joke on his time off and is canned, or two students exchange angry words and one of them loses their tuition and enrollment to placate the other's lawyer. If you make rules and enforce them, okay. But the punishment should fit the crime. We let our anger at someone's actions get out of hand, and instead of justice, it becomes vengeance. Not okay.

McCarthy attacked communists - he was right about communism being very very bad. Communism has killed more people than virtually any other horror of the 20th century (it had a longer "run", but this is still a significant record to hold). The problem, was his tactics. He picked the "right side" of the fight and did evil things in "service" to it.

Political Correctness picks the right sides - anti-racism, anti-sexism. Then it tears people's lives apart and craps all over people's civil rights in service of these basic, noble goals. Just because we disagree with someone, however strongly, does not take away their rights to free assembly, free speech, etc.

Some things that go by the label of political correctness are okay. What offends me is when people are thrown out of Universities, lose their jobs, etc, because of things they say - a basic attack on civil rights, far in excess of anything they have done. Thought policing is evil. So is racism, but two wrongs don't make a right.

If you think that someone's opinion of welfare reform (and other similar stances) comes from racist motivation, maybe it does, in their case. But calling people racist is not an argument, not a legitimate one anyway.

We are so afraid to be called that term that (some) people use it whenever they want the other side to back down. There is a certain cheap thrill in calling someone a racist - like the red scare, we want to be the one to guard society from the 'darned commies' and 'evil bigots'.

And finally, yes, some racists /do/ oppose political correctness for no other reason than that they are racist and political correctness advocates claim to be against racism. I would argue this is not the common case. Either way, it is worse for society to engage in political witch-hunts (like McCartheism, and extreme Political Correctness) than to just have a calm debate.

Political correctness restricts free speech. Basiclly everything you said pingouin, is irrevelevant. While using racist or sexist terms are in my opinion, bad, I do not believe that they should be illegal. Yes there was/is racism in the US. That doesn't mean that people should be forced to speak, and subsequently think the same as the majority.

Thats what freedom of expression is all about. The ability to think for oneself and express those beliefs, whether good or not. I won't bother quoting Voltaire.

Fredrick Douglas disagreed with many Americans and worked to end slavery. Had "political correctness" existed in his day and age modeled after the beliefs of those times, he wouldn't of been able to do so. Communist nations such as the former Soviet union and its satelite forced individuals to speak in a special manner and harshly punished those who dissented. They dared call for the barbaric practices of capitalism, comrade.

Racism is wrong but chaining the words and thoughts is worse. Add this to the far too strenous enforcement and many people are hurt, socially, economically, emotionally, and mentally. For instance, I was punished for calling a friend black instead of "African-American", something that did not offend him in the slightest. And all this is basically to spare the feelings of anyone who isn't white/male from words that may or may not offend them.

Political correctness is the head of a much larger beast, really. People have written about the concept already, so I'll look at it from a slightly different angle and list some examples.

I have been attacked in university classes before for using English. The exact situation was when I said something simple: "The reaction rate is retarded." Some moron nearby promptly tells me to stop using the word "retarded" because "some people might have a problem" and not like that. Then he told me that he'd physically assaulted people for using the word before. At that point, I basically told him that he must have some kind of mental deficiency.

As recently as this past Spring I walked out of a university building and was presented with a full view of a "Latina Power" rally. I did complain about that one because it obviously was intended as a play on "White Power," and because if I, a white male, did anything even remotely like that, I'd be lynched. For simply pointing that out, I was called a racist by one of the people running it, and given a lecture on the First Amendment by the idiot in university administration. When I asked if they would support some jackass running a "White Power" rally, even after explicitly stating that I have no interest in that particular philosophy, I was again called a racist, this time by the administrative official I talked to on the phone, and simply told that no, the university would not allow it. I despise the idea of hating someone simply because of the color of their skin and nothing else, but what a double standard.

In applying to graduate school, there are questions all over the applications concerning race. Supposedly, this is used only for "statistical purposes," yet virtually every school states that they have an "active minority recruitment program." How do you have an "active minority recruitment program" if you admit based on merit and race is not a factor? One would think that given the pervasiveness of political correctness in these institutions, they would avoid even the appearance of impropriety in this regard.

I've lost count of the number of times that two black people have greeted each other using or have referred to each other by the word "nigger" (or "nigga," if you prefer).

During a lecture on applying to medical school given by a person from the admissions office from a University of Texas medical school, the man suggested that minority students demonstrate hardship. One of the examples used was: "If your parents swam the river, put that in."

The number of minority-based scholarships and aid programs is totally ridiculous. I don't see many, if any, white-only scholarships. (I wouldn't approve of those either.)

Then there's the idea of quotas, which are intuitively stupid and requires little elaboration.

I don't care about race, but the longer I live in America, the more I get the issue crammed down my throat, and the stronger my reactions to it become. These things are racist. Arguing against them is not racist. Unfortunately, disagreeing with whatever minority groups say tends to result in one being called a racist.

If people want racial descrimination to end, they need to get over the idea of race. As long as people keep drawing these lines of distinction, people are going to distinguish on that basis.

This is the major reason I will not go to a graduate school which has a large minority enrollment. Is it because I hate people who aren't white? Not in the slightest. It's simply because I'm not interested in the idea of sitting next to people who are getting the same education as I am, but are having parts of it paid for by minority scholarships and similar programs, I'm not interested in having race crammed down my throat, and I refuse to go to a place where every other disagreement is likely to end in me being called a racist.

I'm not racist. People who want to keep making race and issue are.

Political correctness, in all its ugly yet well meaning glory, can be stupid. Frankly, as a member of the evil liberal conspiracy myself, I find it a bit offensive when people are out banning West Side Story (It had hispanics in a *gasp* GANG!) in the name of my political philosophy. However, I also hear the phrase invoked fairly often as an excuse for gay bashing and similar attacks. The reasoning trotted out seems to be something like "those damned liberals said we should be nice to gays, so that makes it okay to call them faggits and beat them!" Pingouin's point seems to be exactly this - you should attack the implementation, not the philosophy.

As moJoe so astutely points out in his softlink, the title of this node contains several non sequiturs. The decrying of political correctness, with or without an understanding of its causes and intended consequences, is not of necessity racist in thought or deed. The very concept entails censorship and the support of further discrimination, whilst the execution leaves much to be desired; criticism can be leveled on these aspects without invoking race.

In fact, if one lacks an understanding of why the movement has come about and what it seeks to achieve (in both the short and the long term), censure can only be directed along these lines.

However, we are all adults here, mentally if not legally (though I frequently have doubts) and one would be hard pressed to find an individual who doesn't possess at least a basic grasp of the aforementioned concepts (regardless of how certain groups on all sides of the fence have yoked it to their oxen and are pulling it every which way).

And what then? Must you cry infidel because we dispute your teachings? Imply that we do not believe in God because we take issue with how you intend to bring His kingdom about on earth? That is bigotry, it is both inaccurate and unfair, and it is the treatment to which dissenters of popular notions are subjected, PC included, as brando states.

Pingouin: I fail to see the point of your article, or its direct relevance with respect to the node title. You seem to be saying that because certain critisms of PC have been linked to racism, that this is the only source.

Psk: To attack the idealistic core of the philosophy may well be evidence of racism, but the bastardised remainder is as deserving a target as the implementation.

What we white people in the U.S. tend to forget is that we are the only ones who have the luxury of ignoring race. We can ignore it because it does not effect us negatively, in general. Race (via racism) does affect people who are not white. Certainly a lot more than it affects white people. We white people can easily live, eat, work, etc. around people who will not hate, mistreat, disrespect, or insult us based on our skin color (for the most part). Hispanics, Indians, etc. are not assured of this at all. For white people to say "get over race" or "ignore color" is then a little like saying "stop whining, there's no problem," when clearly there is enough of a problem that this topic gets considerable attention. The fact that you are reading this proves my point that white people who say "forget race" are in fact implicit (unwitting and not necessarily malicious, but nonetheless dangerous) racists. Do not hate implicit racists. I was one and probably I am one still in ways I don't see, so don't hate me. Better to point out racism where you see it and allow people the opportunity and dignity of admitting a mistake and correcting it.

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