Political Correctness Is A Wall Of Separation


Congressman Mike Bost of Illinois has apologized for his so-called “racist” remark, “…the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them?”

No doubt this kind of thing did happen, probably in China under Mao’s leadership, but what fascinates me is that offense was taken by his use of the word, “Orientals”. Had he used the politically correct word, “Asians”, I don’t think it would have been seen as so offensive. It is clear to me that the comparison he was making was not racial, but between mob mentality and freedom of speech.

While it would have been preferable for him to give his comparison some historical setting and explain the who, where and when of this type of “cleansing,” remember that he was the person being yelled at. And it is a rare person who can remain composed under such circumstances.

Political correctness walls in free speech. Choosing the word “Oriental” over “Asian” is seen as such an offense, that in effect, it becomes a wall that separates people and prevents real communication. Apparently in our brave new world freedom of speech is out and political correctness is in.

In Robert Frost’s poem, Mending Wall, the neighbour says,

Good fences make good neighbours”

while the narrator states,

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know 

What I was walling in or walling out, 

And to whom I was like to give offence.”

The poem uses the object of a stone wall as a metaphor, looking at it from both sides (“walling in or walling out”). Implicit to this poem is the fact that the function of a wall – both benefit and deficit – is being openly discussed from those two views. Therefore, walls are designed to separate specific things, but not all things – in this case, the discussion of it.

One of today’s hottest political issues is the building of a wall along our southern border for the purpose of reducing the illegal aliens and illicit drugs that cross into our country from Mexico. But there is another wall, more significant and more pervasive – a metaphorical wall – that has already been built. The name of that wall is Political Correctness. It not only separates people of different opinions, but it prevents any real communication across its lines of separation.

Examples of this are abundantly evident. Colleges and universities routinely cancel speakers whose conservative views are considered “controversial” and unwelcome. Whereas in the 60s students clamored for “free speech” areas where the free market of ideas could flourish, now they want “safe” spaces where they won’t be upset by philosophies or points of view they don’t agree with.

What is left of journalism is probably the most dramatic example of political correctness as a wall that prevents real communication and real debate. More often than reporting information, the media engages in propaganda by framing what they say in such a way as to push their agenda, and paint anyone who does not agree with their agenda as intellectually or morally deficient. They distort facts, misrepresent their opponents and make up outright lies. The term “fake news” actually underplays the seriousness of the media’s attack on objective reporting.

But political correctness is far more pervasive than how the news is presented. The actual substance of what we say in public has been made subordinate to how we say it. The bricks that make up the wall of political correctness are word choices. Say the wrong word and you are automatically labeled some kind of a bigot – the worst heresy a godless society can name.

Take for example the issue of racism. Back in the 60s we thought racism was on the way out. We saw the dawning of the new “Age of Aquarius” with “Black and white together singing alleluia”. But government and media tried to codify that genuine feeling of the grassroots through PC education. It was decided that “offensive” language would not be permitted. And so they instituted a list of taboo words deemed too offensive for public use.

The problem with this approach is that any time someone is offended, there are two views: who is being walled in, and who is being walled out. Yet putting a wall of separation between them does not solve the offense. The solution can only be found in being connected, not by being separated. Forgiveness and understanding are what is needed to solve the problem – neither of which can happen when a wall is blocking the way.

There are two parts of any offense: the offended and the offender. What if there was no offense intended – nothing in the heart or mind of the offender that meant to offend the other person – just the use of a black-listed word? The wall of political correctness says that the words ARE the offense, so we must not use certain words, even when we aren’t trying to offend.

The problem with this narrow view is that word usage evolves. What is considered unacceptable by one generation is perfectly OK to the next. And multiculturalism exacerbates this in that what is acceptable in one culture may be offensive to another.

When I was in school (the 50s and 60s) the word “oriental” was more commonly used than the word “Asian”, but to most people’s thinking they meant pretty much the same thing. This was in contrast to my being occidental (from the West) as opposed to being oriental (from the East). For someone to take offense at that requires they have a very thin skin, regardless of the color.

I was taught that the three main racial divisions in humans were Caucasian, Asian and negroid. In an effort to consciously offend me, I have been referred to as “Caucasoid” and “of the Caucasian persuasion” but I have chosen not to take offense. People get silly and very weird about how to identify the different races. We lump an incredible range of variations into labels like black, white, brown, yellow and red. Why?

I’ve never felt comfortable knowing just the right word to describe my darker-skinned friends. Negro, black, colored, African-American. Whatever you do, don’t slip and say Afro-American. I guess that came from Franco-American, which we now would call French-American, which I never hear anyone saying – they’re just whites now. These terms change from generation to generation and from culture to culture. How can we talk about our differences without being offensive?

It is long overdue for our politically correct society to consider the other part of an offense: the person who feels offended. Perhaps it is time they learn to forgive those who offend them. That’s the Biblical point of view (Proverbs 19:11).  And beyond that, perhaps they need to stop taking offense altogether. The Bait Of Satan by John Bevere shows how destructive taking offense can be.

In the most basic sense, self-righteously taking offense at what others say or do in effect is pointing our fingers at others and blaming them, rather than taking any of the responsibility ourselves. The big picture is that it takes two to tango. Taking offense does nothing to help the dance. It only separates the partners. An excellent resource is Resolving Everyday Conflict, Biblical answers for a common problem, by Peacemaker Ministries.

How can we stop hating? One thing we can all do right now is to stop pointing our fingers at the other guy and shouting, “You hater!”

And for those of you who persist in supporting political correctness, I urge you, “Take down that wall!”

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About retiredday

I am Michael D. Day, a regular, everyday guy -- retired. I stand for God-given freedom, which means I think for myself. I believe in being civil, because the Bible teaches that we should love our enemies. But I also believe in saying it how I see it, and explaining just why I see it that way, sort of like 2 Timothy 4:2.
This entry was posted in American Culture, political correctness, Racism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Political Correctness Is A Wall Of Separation

  1. nofearlinda says:

    Political correctness drives me crazy as us older folk often use words that were fine 20 years ago, only to realize that word is ‘out’ now and could offend. Christians seem to need to be careful not to offend when speaking of Christ. However, we need to be bold and remember Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Presenting a Savior to the world is worth experiencing trouble over political correctness. The reward of seeing someone come to know Christ is worth being uncomfortable as it is for eternity and not just ‘now’. Be bold and let the Holy Spirit take care of the walls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mc the blue says:

      As is so often the case I agree 100% with Linda. The world may have standards that are nonsensical or counterproductive or even offensive to us, but we are given many New Testament commands and illustrations to live in a relational peace in the world as much as possible and to endure against the world system (Matt 17:24-27; 1 Cor 9:19-23; 10:23-33; Rom 12:14-21; 15:1-6; 1 Thes 4:9-12; Col 4:5-6; 1 Pet 2:12).

      We have but one legitimate area for offending the world: the Rock of Offense and the Stumbling Block, our Lord Jesus Christ. If the world is offended by that, or by our conformity with His character in secular matters (e.g. supporting a political view that matches Biblical standards), then that is our legitimate cause of offense and we are not sinning by standing firm in the faith. But any other kind of offense though, no matter how silly it may be to us in our freedom in Christ… well in my personal opinion it borders close to sin.

      To this specific discussion, I personally don’t use words like “negro” or “Oriental” or any other racial words currently out of favor because our society rejects them and I don’t have a Biblical mandate to defend them. But I do have a Biblical standard: which is to do all I can to live at peace with the world so that I might win some.

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      • retiredday says:

        I basically agree with you, but not with the notion that offending others comes close to sin, particularly when no offense is intended, but results from using selectively offensive words. Sin is a matter of the heart, not of rules.

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      • mc the blue says:

        The idea of intention or willfulness is implicit in my thinking, but a fair point to explicitly call out in public discussion such as here.

        We even have an example of a similar scenario in Acts 23:2-5, where Paul rebukes the council judge not knowing he was the high priest, then acknowledges/confesses that ignorance to them, even citing Scripture, as a kind of apology. In my view it’s a fair template for my own actions after my own accidental offenses.

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      • retiredday says:

        I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you say, “The idea of intention or willfulness is implicit in my thinking, but a fair point to explicitly call out in public discussion such as here.”

        I wholeheartedly concur with the verses you listed in another comment of yours entailing the importance of what Ephesians 5:15 calls “walking circumspectly”. However, it is my view that this has nothing in the least to do with political correctness. How we relate to others should be motivated and directed by the love of Jesus in us, not the outer strictures of convention.

        The scenario you site was a highly-charged, violent confrontation in the context of a religious authoritative body. What I was attempting to address in my article is the unwarranted offense associated with politically incorrect words in general, unstructured public discourse. Political correctness dictates what a person may say by censuring how he says it.

        In fact, that last sentence just offended political correctness. In my formal education, I was instructed that in the English language, “he” (the masculine case) is inclusive of both genders. All humanity is mankind and mankind is Man. Now that is considered sexist. And now many writers use “she” when giving inclusive examples. But from a logical point of view, that doesn’t fix anything. All it does is justify a perceived “pay back”.

        In the study of foreign languages (Spanish, French, Italian & German) I learned that they all had developed various gender applications, even for inanimate objects (such as a ship being a she). This was considered an offense to those who felt women had been oppressed and dominated by men. Social engineering is an attempt to correct this, and constraining speech through political correctness is one part of that social engineering.

        But in my opinion, no intelligent, educated, freedom-loving person was ever offended by the fact that the word “Man” was used to represent both men and women. I believe that is a false narrative. The people who instigated political correctness had an agenda to break down the character of our society, the values of western civilization, with its social norms, it’s use of language and its moral and religious underpinnings. And they have succeeded.

        The church has largely abandoned its Biblical world view, reflecting and even embracing the popularly held secular world view, which includes political correctness. It is not the dictates of social norms that will produce Christ-likeness, but our obedience to be Spirit-led. No laws will ever make us righteous. God’s laws are written on our hearts for a reason. We are free to walk in Christ and abide in Christ. In him we move and breathe and have our being. That is what I seek to rely upon — not rules about word choice.

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      • mc the blue says:

        I mean that intention and willfullness are always part of my definition of sin, and that I am glad you pointed that out in this discussion since my personal definition may not be clear to you and other readers here. I was writing in agreement with your “when no offense is intended”.

        The example I gave in Acts 23 was only illustrating Paul’s intention to offend, or rather the lack of that. Paul accidentally offended and, once pointed out, reacted in a way that I believe provides for me a good template on how I should respond when I accidentally offend. You are correct the situations are completely dissimilar in other respects.

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  2. messiah gate says:

    Reading this I couldn’t help but recall the words of President Kennedy spoken during his famous Berlin speech in 1963. No, I’m not referring to the oft-repeated, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” but later when he said, ” … we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in …”

    No, but society does impose other barriers to restrain people and one in particular is especially egregious which is political correctness.

    By the way, in 1963 the word “oriental” was commonly used neither in an offensive, or mean-spirited manner. But in this age of enlightenment the word is officially banned in all federal documents per an order by former President Barack Obama.

    LA Times journalist Jayne Tsuchiyama wrote:

    “As an Oriental, I am bemused. Apparently Asians are supposed to feel demeaned if someone refers to us as Orientals. But good luck finding a single Asian American who has ever had the word spat at them in anger. Most Asian Americans have had racist epithets hurled at them at one time or another … But Oriental isn’t in the canon.”

    And now we learn that 40% of Millennials believe in limiting free speech. According to the Pew Institute a sizable number of younger people believe the government should prohibit anyone from making offensive statements.

    Of course, we know to whom these restrictions are targeted. If you don’t agree with the left on sensitive cultural and social issues then your disagreement could be interpreted as offensive speech.

    It’s almost 35 years late, but the thought police of George Orwell’s “1984” have revealed themselves to be the liberal elite who define what, and how to think. (Recall Orwell’s Department of Truth.) To speak that which is not politically correct might be a crime. To that I ask, who are the fascists? At least they haven’t banned the Bible and Bill of Rights — yet.

    [As Millennials become radicalized we need to understand that they are being socialized by a culture and public education system that is inherently humanist. That spells danger for traditional American values.]

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    • retiredday says:

      Thanks for your cogent comment. When you wrote, “According to the Pew Institute a sizable number of younger people believe the government should prohibit anyone from making offensive statements.” all I could think of was how surprised and outraged those same younger people would be to know how offensive their statements are to me. But then, you wrote, “Of course, we know to whom these restrictions are targeted.” The sad fact (and this is what makes them Nazis) is that they see no problem in offending me. They just want to keep me from offending them.

      Pray for the salvation of this generation of Americans coming up. Unless and until they receive Christ, our nation is doomed and no political wisdom can save us.

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    • mc the blue says:

      “an order by former President Barack Obama” This is false. This was legislation proposed by Congress, not some executive action by a lame duck. It was HR bill #4238 and it passed both the House of Reps and the Senate UNANIMOUSLY. So call your Republican congressman and ask him why he’s kowtowing to radicalized millenials.

      “officially banned in all federal documents” Also false. This legislation modified specific language in two existing federal laws; laws which Congress passed and now modified.

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      • I misstated the facts. According to my notes it was not by executive order, but by the President’s signed legislation. The effect is the same.

        Democrats lobbied aggressively for the passage of this bill. They cleverly painted words like “Oriental” as vulgar, offensive and insulting. The political reality is that Republicans were in a no-win situation.

        Though the legislation amends two specific documents (Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act, and Department of Energy Organization Act) it effectively will be applied to all federal laws. (U.S. code to define minorities was inserted in the two acts back in the 1970’s, and was applicable to all federal docs.)

        If a Republican dared to vote against the bill they would have been crucified as a racist. That is the point of discussion — not whether legal terminology needed to be updated.

        Anything else is obfuscation for the sake of argument (which liberals do all too well).

        *******

        Rule #5 from Saul Alinsky’s playbook:

        Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

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      • retiredday says:

        I think what you’ve tapped into is that political correctness is not simply a cultural phenomenon involving morals, social mores, politeness or respect. When legal pressure is brought by governing authorities to achieve social engineering through coercion and the restriction of freedom of speech, it is the foreshadowing of tyranny.

        That is why in my article I referenced the fact that college students today tend to prefer “safe zones” and shouting down conservative speakers, rather than demanding “free speech” as previous generations did.

        As Romans 12:18 says, I try to live peaceably with all men as much as it depends on me…if it is possible. But political correctness in no way helps me to do that. Quite to the contrary, it constrains my spontaneity and causes me to worry that someone might take something I say the wrong way. So often, I shut down and say nothing, out of caution.

        As I said in my piece, there are two parties to any offense. While I definitely am against being offensive, my take on society today is that people generally take too much offense, and too often, by the words people use. I also am of the opinion that the quality of interpersonal communication and the skills it requires are at an all-time low. As a people, we really need to learn how to actually talk to one another and establish some rapport, not constantly try to blow one another out of the water.

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  3. I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but it is my life experience — and no less valid because it is politically incorrect.

    Speaking to a liberal is like speaking to a lot of women I have known. They hold up a hand and say, “I don’t want to hear it.”

    I’m not allowed to have an opinion, or speak my mind because it offends their one-dimensional thought process which is guided by feelings and emotions rather than rational. logical comprehension.

    A good example is Cate Blanchett who said recently that her moral compass is in her vagina. That means if you are a conservative, Christian man you can plan on sleeping on the sofa until you die. Your bigoted opinions are not conducive to having a fertile marriage nor are they welcomed in a society and culture that is growing increasingly hostile.

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