News & Politics

Say Hello to the New PC

The new PC is about doling out Scarlet Letters through public moralistic scrutiny of individual private behavior with little or no concern for matters of public interest or institutional morality.
The term "political correctness" was invented by sensitive "liberal" academics who wanted to raise awareness about the power of language to dehumanize, but has now become a cynical wise-crack in the mouths of "conservatives" who have made it politically correct to be politically incorrect- - "I know this isn't politically correct but ... (hee, hee)."

Mostly made up of "angry white males" who cry victim over the "victim mentality" of historically oppressed groups in America, the old PC back-lashers do make a good point. "Progressives" and other assorted leftists need to lighten up.

On the other hand, being politically incorrect is not the same thing as having the courage to "speak truth to power." There's nothing courageous or truthful in publicly proclaiming that Indians, for example, shouldn't be "so sensitive" about the racist imagery of sports team mascots. It's downright callous.

Say hello to the new PC, which turns Jesus' famous words on their head by condemning the splinter in other people's eyes while ignoring the lumber in their own. The new PC is about doling out scarlet letters through public moralistic scrutiny of individual private behavior with little or no concern for matters of public interest or institutional morality.

So the new PC, for example, considers President Clinton's sex sins and his lying about something that all unfaithful men lie about to be worthy of impeachment hearings.

But devotees of the new PC are apparently willing to accept, at face value, the word of war planners that the Iraq WMD hype was the result of "mistaken" intelligence, and the "war on terror" torture scandal is essentially a "liberal media" conspiracy to "aid and abet the terrorists" by sensationalizing the behavior of "a few bad apples," despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The inadequate funding of "No Child Left Behind Act" (doublespeak at its best)? So what, says the new PC. Cut my taxes! Teachers, who are arguably the most socially-valuable asset this country has, make too much money anyway, right?

Enticing desperate, poor teenagers to join the "all volunteer" military with promises of employment and education benefits while exposing them to the horrors of war? No big deal for the new PCs, just don't burn my flag.

And now, here comes the "baseball steroid controversy" with Congress holding high-profile hearings this week. The central question: how widespread is/was steroids in pro baseball? – a question that ranks right up there with the other great inquiries of modern times like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Got Milk?

Where's all the "free-market" scholars and cheerleaders complaining about big government sticking its nose into the private business of baseball?

On a baseball talk show on XM Radio the other day, one co-host suggested there were more important things Congress ought to be concerned about, like the rising price of gasoline. His colleague agreed but took issue with the analogy. There's a big difference between "kids dying of steroids" and the price at the pump.

Point taken. But is the analogy that far off-base? To the extent that the war in Iraq is about extending American hegemony in the Middle East, one could argue that kids are dying over the price of gas.

The war in Iraq isn't just about oil, as leftist critics rightly point out. But, as many hawks refuse to acknowledge, if Iraq's major industry was the exportation of pomegranates, there never would have been any talk about a nonexistent "grave and gathering threat."

Nor would we have intelligent people pretending that Bush's "pre-emptive" invasion of Iraq is fundamentally an expression of compassion for the Iraqi people whose "liberation" is so important to us that we're willing to sacrifice thousands of young lives to, once again, pay "the price of freedom."

So to be down with the new PC, I suggest Congress hold hearings about the rampant use of the performance-enhancing drug caffeine in journalism. Subpoena me. I'll testify about how reporters, "juiced" on caffeine, are "cheating" and how we need to put an asterisk in Pulitzer Prize record books because coffee has tainted some accomplishments.

Where's the outrage?
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff reporter and a syndicated columnist.
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