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Maybe You Could Just Try Being Correct

An article submitted anonymously in response to the article published in Issue 6, “The Failing of Political Correctness” written by Sam Stone ’22. 

Sam,

              You are correct to say that our country is growing more divided as our culture becomes more aware of inclusion; but the division really exists between those who care enough to act and speak in a way that promotes inclusion, and people who are totally unwilling to re-evaluate their own words and behavior in a productive way.

              I am glad you live in a world where you can “take away any person’s power to hurt or offend you” by simply choosing to discount their words. The fact that you believe this is a universal experience betrays your narrow perspective; it is, in fact, a privilege that many do not enjoy. As an exercise, perhaps you could ask your mother or one of your female friends to simply choose to not be offended when the president calls women things like “young and beautiful piece of ass.” Let her know that by choosing to act so offended when the president dehumanizes her publicly, she is actually alienating well-intentioned voters and contributing to his re-election. Her response might be enlightening.

              It may be true that supporters of Trump are motivated by a disdain for those who would police their behavior. But Trump and his supporters are not looking for a constructive conversation, and their offenses are not “minor slights”. They consistently speak and act in a way that is harmful and alienating to others. They advocate to take away others’ basic rights. Their behavior is bad, it does not live up to the standards of inclusion that we believe in here, and a friendly chat will not correct it. If we treat these people with the respect you recommend, we only legitimize their horrifically backwards views.

              Perhaps you imagine another class of people who generally respect others and work hard to act inclusively, but grow upset as they find themselves continuously rebuked for little mistakes. (Perhaps you imagine yourself among them!) In reality, those people don’t exist. In fact, it takes a minimum of effort to be “politically correct”, and the people holding you to these standards have an incredible tolerance for the little mistakes of people who are earnestly trying to behave better. I should know: like you, I am a white, straight man, and I was raised with a somewhat limited consciousness of many of the social issues we face today. However, I have never found myself embarrassingly rebuked in public for any political faux pas. This is because I have empathy and put in the small amount of work it takes to adjust my words and behavior when I am respectfully corrected by one of my peers. Yes, even if you find it difficult to adjust to using “they” pronouns, or you grew up around boys who called each other gay as an insult, you will find that your peers at Wheaton have remarkable patience for your mistakes as long as you are putting in an honest effort to improve.

              You say that you are committed to advancing inclusion and equality. I agree that that should include people with a variety of political views. But it cannot include anyone whose political views have their basis in the persecution or exclusion of others. These views are extreme and cannot be tolerated in the inclusive culture that we are striving for.

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