Is it safe to assume that the point of any undertaking should be to see the successful, empirical RESULTS of said ‘project’? Or is this assumption just not ‘woke’ enough for today’s emotion-centric world? Better yet, am I even ‘allowed’ to ask these questions without seeming insensative?
In my opinion, it sure doesn’t seem like RESULTS are the goal of any public/social undertaking anymore. These days, asking if something is “actually producing the changes that its proponents are wanting to see” is akin to wearing a tin-foil hat and blaming the aliens for cold pizza. People look at you like you’re the craziest Nazi they’ve ever talked to when you simply ask them to provide evidence to support that their favorite social construct is ACTUALLY producing the end result that they originally desired.
Why is this?
For starters, I believe this overall issue (beyond political correctness) is caused by the false sense of moral superiority that people get when they FEEL strongly about something they perceive to be unjust. Because the feelings are very real, they (the feelings) get conflated with the illusion that they’re producing REAL results. Thus, when you ask someone to prove that their pet project is actually working, it immediately becomes an attack on their sense of morality and identity. Hence, we now live in a world of identity politics and moral grandstanding.
Secondly, the thoughtful exchange of ideas that is necessary for real problem solving has now been replaced by an entirely new kind of public discourse known as political correctness.
POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: The avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.The Oxford Dictionary
While I believe that political correctness is one of the dumbest social norms that humanity has EVER adopted, I don’t necessarily disagree with its theoretical aims. A world with more inclusion, equal opportunity, and equal justice is exactly the type of world that I want to live in. I would even go so far as to say that political correctness has been successful in raising the awareness of many different issues that need to be fixed in our social structure. But that’s where its success always ends. The best it can do is raise awareness of a problem. It cannot actually FIX the problem itself.
Let me explain.
Can you think of a subject that the politically correct movement has brought to your awareness that you were previously oblivious to? Perhaps something like the LGBTQ movement or the challenge of dealing with the children of illegal immigrants? Even if you were ‘aware’ of them in some way, can you at least acknowledge that the political correctness culture we live in has INCREASED your awareness of such issues on a broad scale?
Assuming your answer is, yes, let me now ask you another question… Has your increased awareness ever inspired you to take ACTION to address these injustices in REAL ways? For some, the answer is, yes. For most, it hasn’t changed a thing. As a matter of fact, I would argue that their newfound awareness of the issue(s) has actually produced a level of apathy that borders on active participation in the problem.
The REAL Results of Political Correctness
Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend and found yourselves ‘policing’ your words so as not to offend anyone else that might overhear you? Have you ever been called out for a word that you used, only to be immediately accused of having a bigoted opinion about some disenfranchised group that you’ve never even had a negative thought about in your life? Have you ever felt the need to keep your opinion to yourself for fear of losing your job?
While I’m almost certain that you’ve experienced these forms of suppression of your free speech and the presence of the ‘thought police’ in recent years, one thing that you may not realize is that these tools employed by the politically correct ‘social enforcers’ are actually producing 3 very specific psychological byproducts in our society that are only making the problems worse:
As a libertarian, Collectivism is a ‘hot button’ that can be found in just about every discussion available in the political arena. It goes WAY BEYOND just the subject of political correctness, but its errors are perhaps most acutely manifested in the bigotry and bias that political correctness requires in order to be validated.
What’s that? Did I just say that political correctness REQUIRES bigotry and bias in order to be validated?
Yes. Yes, I did.
No different than the pharmaceutical industry’s need for sick patients to remain sick, political correctness survives on bigotry and bias. Dare I say that in the same way that the pharmaceutical industry THRIVES on perpetuating ‘treatments’ instead of cures, political correctness also THRIVES on perpetuating ‘treatments’ instead of cures?
In the case of Collectivism, the REAL disease becomes the inability to see the individual for who they are. Instead, people are lumped into group identities and seen as statistics in a larger context. Instead of a being seen as Austin Fletcher, I’m seen as a male. Or a Christian. Or white. Or an American. Or whatever group you want to put me in… AS LONG AS YOU DON’T ACTUALLY SEE …. me.
Collectivism has two sides to it:
- External Bias – The first side, which I’ve already touched on, is about the external viewpoints that are fostered to allow people the opportunity to ignore the individual and make broad sweeping judgments of many individuals based on averages and norms. While viewing people through this lens can be helpful for quick assessments and conclusions, it’s also
the root cause of bigotry, racism, sexism, and every other social injustice that the politically correct movement is meant to combat.
- Internal Group-think – The second side is more internal to each one of us. Namely, it takes the form of Tribalism. Tribalism is built around the fact that the world is seen as a very unsafe place to be authentic, so we create a ‘tribe’ around us with whom we can actually be HONEST about our thoughts and feelings. Most of the time we actually create multiple tribes that centralize around specific ideas, and when combined together, they equal our overall social ‘safety net’ where we can be somewhat honest about everything we believe, even if it’s in segmented groups.
When these two elements of social lenses are combined, they make
Sure… Political correctness might open you up to a few more ‘tribes’ than you were previously aware of, but it also deepens the divide between you and the ones that you REALLY don’t like. Which, unfortunately, seems like an acceptable norm for most people at this point. Because everyone knows how ‘evil’ that ‘other’ tribe REALLY is… don’t they?
Additionally, political correctness most often aims at making sure that disenfranchised collectives of people receive the ‘rights’ that are due them. The problem with this is not that individuals don’t deserve ‘rights’, but that when rights are handed out to a collective group, how is society supposed to ensure that those rights are also balanced with responsibility? In a civilized society, every right should come with a corresponding responsibility. If we only see rights as group-oriented, how are we supposed to hold an entire GROUP responsible for actions of individuals within that group? Case in point… Muslims and terrorism. According to the politically correct philosophy, we are supposed to view ALL Muslims with a particular lens, but the truth of the matter is that SOME Muslims want to kill people who disagree with them. How are we supposed to handle situations like that if we refuse to look at each INDIVIDUAL as responsible for the proper use of their OWN rights? Collectivism doesn’t allow for this basic function of the rule of law without the tyranny of the majority group over the minority group… which is supposedly the very thing political correctness is supposed to be stopping.
I have often commented that the most racist and bigoted people I’ve ever met are liberal leftists. The fact that they flaunt their so-called tolerance and inclusive morality everywhere they go has NOTHING to do with what’s ACTUALLY going on in their minds.
I cannot count the number of times I have been completely unaware of or unaffected by a politically sensitive classification that someone fits into (i.e. their race or sexual orientation) UNTIL a politically correct-minded person points it out to me. In other words, I was just viewing someone as a ‘person’ and having a normal conversation with them while my supposedly ‘woke’ social sensitivity enforcer friend was sitting there the whole time being preoccupied with whatever social classification that person fits into. Is it just me, or is the person who can’t see PAST the color of someone’s skin more or less of a racist than the person who wasn’t giving it a second thought? … That is a rhetorical question by the way… Of course, I’m the one who’s the racist because I wasn’t preoccupied with the skin color of the person I was speaking with. (sarcasm included)
This obvious logical fallacy is the primary ‘PC’ fuel for the media elite and social justice warriors of our time. They believe that having pity on someone for their sexual orientation, skin color, nationality, religious creed, or whatever collective group lens they view that person through is the same as ACTUALLY being accepting of them. If I pity you because you’re gay and you got made fun of in high school for it, it’s ok for me to constantly focus on the fact that you’re gay and pretend like I really care about YOU. Forget about that fact that you’re a human being who wants to be seen as a human being. No, I have to see you through the primary lens of your sexuality because it makes me FEEL like I’m a good person. It makes me FEEL like I ‘accept’ you, even though I continue to define you by the very thing I pretend not to be preoccupied with.
This FEELING that I’m a good person usually plays into the fact that I’m actually only focusing on your social ‘problem’, and thus, the FEELING that I’m an accepting person allows me to functionally be the most bigoted person I know. I feel justified in sticking up for your sexual orientation as if it’s your entire identity because it gives me a sense of moral justification. Since I’m morally justified, how on earth could anyone think I’m a bad person who mostly just sees people as a group identity? After all, that would be prejudiced, wouldn’t it?
This cycle of false moral superiority, followed by an even more egregious offense of moral justification is what is known as Moral Self-Licensing. In short, you feel good for doing something good (i.e. having pity on a minority group), and that sense of ‘being
A simple example of this is with dieting. You eat a healthy breakfast, eat a salad at lunch, go to the gym after work, and then get home and feel justified in eating that second serving of lasagna. After all, you were ‘good’ all day. You deserve to cheat. That’s if you even think it’s cheating at all. It may just be part of your diet ‘plan’ to beat yourself up all day so you can indulge at night and not actually have to change anything about your overall health.
This has rarely been so obviously exemplified in the public arena than when people all over the country chose to vote for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, in some measure, because they felt good about voting for an African-American. Many of these same people also voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 because it made them feel good to vote for a woman. Yet, in many cases, the ACTUAL attitudes of these voters never engaged with
In the end, when it comes to political correctness, Moral Self-licensing creates the ILLUSION of acceptance when, in fact, it’s the ultimate manifestation of the subconscious bigotry that political correctness aims to eradicate. On the surface, people smile and use the right words. In their hearts and minds, people maintain their bigotry and become less willing to admit their prejudice because they still use the right words.
When you stack the bigotry of Collectivism with the illusion of Moral Self-licensing, you ultimately create a society that is loaded with an endless amount of stereotypes and blanket judgments. The individual ceases to be relevant, and every one of us proudly fits into multiple collective ‘tribes’. Your gender. Your race. Your nationality. Your religious affiliation. Your weight. Your height. Your personality. Your skillset. Etc. Just by existing on this planet, you fit into dozens of easily identifiable collective labels.
These collective labels become more and more defined through the biased lenses of society, and in the case of political correctness, they become badges of honor for certain groups, and sources of shame for others. Of course, the honor isn’t from the positive perspectives that society creates around these groups. Instead, the honor is centered around which group can elicit the greatest bout of victim-hood from the world around them. The most attention flows to the biggest victims, just as the most moral superiority goes to the ones who accept the most victimized groups for ‘who they really are’.
Meanwhile… There is another insipid force at work called Stereotype Threat that puts a nice neat self-perpetuation ‘cherry on top’ of this politically correct ‘sunday
When someone finds themselves in a situation where their stereotype is a socially accepted norm, the fear of living up to that stereotype actually fosters their decreased performance to match the norm of that stereotype. In other words, if you are aware of a stereotype that you match, and you are in a situation where that stereotype might be proved to be true, your awareness of the stereotype will usually cause you to perform at a level that matches the stereotype, regardless of what you were actually capable of had you not been aware of the stereotype.
In study after study, researchers have found that it doesn’t matter what the stereotype is, this phenomenon proves true for everybody. It also goes both ways in regard to its positive or negative effects. If they tell a group of young men that they are studying ‘natural athletic ability’ while playing miniature golf, the African-American men will outperform the Caucasian-American men consistently. However, if they tell the same group that they are studying ‘problem-solving skills’ (while performing the same tasks), the Caucasian-American men will outperform the African-American men consistently. In this case, the Stereotype Threat also works as a Stereotype Lift, depending on what the participants are told is being ‘tested’.
Now, let’s just imagine what this same phenomenon is doing on a larger scale in the political correctness arena. Women are finding their voice by fighting the prejudice that they aren’t seen as smart or as financially valuable in the workplace as men. Do you think their constant awareness of and focus on this stereotype is helping them overcome it, or is it possible that it might actually be hindering their performance, causing them to live up to it (or better said… causing them to live DOWN to it)? And let’s not forget that this same stereotype says men are smarter and more financially valuable in the workplace than women. Is there a chance that this might actually cause them to overperform and match this stereotype in a positive light?
In just this one example, can you see how publicly accepted stereotypes and their constant presence in our politically correct discourse might actually be causing more harm than good. That instead of helping those who live with the negative stereotype, it’s creating an even greater gap in performance between those on the positive end of the stereotype and those on the negative end? The underperformers get worse and worse while the overperformers get better and better, all the while reinforcing the stereotype with more and more data to ‘prove’ it.
So how do we stop this insane cycle of political correctness and its self-
“Stop talking about it. I’m gonna stop calling you a white man, and I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace, and you know me as Morgan Freeman.”Morgan Freeman on 60 Minutes talking about racism
The truth of the universe is that energy flows where attention goes. What we THINK, becomes our reality. And when it comes to political correctness, I would argue that almost NONE of the thoughts that surround it are a reality that we actually want in our society. Yet, the energy flows where attention goes, and now this truth has created EXACTLY what we’ve been focusing on.
The 3 clinically proven psychological phenomenon that I have listed in this article are proof, in my opinion, that political correctness is really good at keeping itself in business. So I guess I’m surprised to conclude that political correctness really does WORK. It has done a bang-up job at highlighting all of the bigotry and prejudice it can get its hands on. And if that’s what you want more of, keep participating in the game.
On the other hand, if ACTUAL equality and tolerance is your goal, might I suggest first starting with focusing your energies on loving your neighbor, especially that one you hate the most. Focus on their individuality, not the different ‘groups’ they belong to. Get to know them as a PERSON, not a stereotype. And above all, honor where they are at in their journey without trying to flaunt your ‘woke-ness’ in their face. Just chill and be a human being about it. Let the conversation take care of the rest.