What is political correctness? What is in that untainted phrase? To be politically correct. Does it follow, then, that the term ought to change depending on one’s political affiliation and beliefs? Does it mean something different to a Democrat than a Republican?
Generally, to be politically correct means to be sensitive to others’ feelings; to avoid remarks, gestures, observations, and even physical movement that might offend someone. That someone, generally, could be a racial minority, a sexually insecure or socially sensitive person—there are countless examples, highlighting what a challenge political correctness can be. In a racially and socially homogeneous country that would hardly be an issue—there wouldn’t exist many people who could take offense from honest, good-willing remarks. In Greece, for example, although political correctness has begun to raise its ugly head, it can hardly reach the magnitude it is reaching in other, more diverse, societies. In a country like the U.S., however, political correctness is rapidly becoming—if it isn’t already—a real pestilence. America is exceptional partly because of its wonderful diversity. Throughout American history, individuals from every conceivable race, religion, and social inclination have come together to achieve hitherto unimaginable feats. Be it the defeat of German and Japanese fascism; be it the conquest of space, immortalized by Neil Armstrong’s moon stroll; be it the elimination of Communist oppression in what was the Eastern Bloc countries.
This diverse social fabric, however improbable may sound, is threatened by the craze to be politically correct and not offend anyone. Instead of making society stronger, political correctness unravels it. Good-natured people are hesitant and afraid to say something that may be perceived as offensive in public or in social media. Political correctness creates and encourages tribalism. People prefer to sit with others of similar race and gender—something natural, yet made even more pronounced because of political correctness.
Equally troubling is the undeniable fact that political correctness softens society. In a somewhat similar manner to the handing out of consolation prizes to everyone—in real life everyone is a winner, right?—political correctness tries to cleanse society of any friction. But friction produces stronger, more resilient people.
P.S. — How awkward is it when someone signs an email with the following: Name (preferred pronouns he, him, his)?