News & Politics

Trump's Abuse of the Term 'Political Correctness'

(AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

Since his campaign began, one of the most commonly cited reasons for supporting Donald Trump has been his defiance of political correctness. Trump “tells it like it is,” supporters have frequently claimed.

No doubt aware of that appeal, Trump evoked it in defense of recent controversial comments. From MSN:

“Politicians are so politically correct anymore, they can’t breathe,”Mr. Trump said in an interview Tuesday afternoon as fellow Republicans forcefully protested his ethnically charged criticism of a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against the defunct Trump University.

“The people are tired of this political correctness when things are said that are totally fine,” he said during an interlude in a day of exceptional stress in the Trump campaign. “It is out of control. It is gridlock with their mouths.”

Is political correctness truly at issue in the debate over Trump’s remarks regarding Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel? If someone were to question your ability to do your job based on your heritage, would you think them politically incorrect, or just a jerk? Is there a meaningful difference?

Political correctness, or cultural Marxism as it is also known, attempts to smother certain ideas through social censure in order to affect a uniformity of thought. Does that mean that any critique of any thought is an exercise in political correctness? Of course not. So how can we tell the difference?

Political correctness is not driven by a rational process. When its enforcers censure speech which they disapprove of, they offer a nonsensical rationale. You shouldn’t say [fill in the blank] because it’s “intolerant” or “hateful” or “mean-spirited.” These are not reasons.

By contrast, something like Trump’s comments regarding Judge Curiel may be criticized on a wholly rational basis. Trump is objectively wrong to suggest that a person’s heritage makes them incapable of presiding fairly over a trial. Indeed, all such racialist generalizations are objectively wrong and deserving of rebuke and condemnation. That is not politically correct. It’s just correct.

Donald Trump has abused the term “political correctness,” wielding it as a shield to deflect criticism of things he rightfully ought to be criticized for. Beyond being obnoxious, such abuse has a subtle effect upon the political discourse. If, in a state of partisan herd instinct, conservatives adopt this notion that anything offensive can be justified as defiance of political correctness, the movement will lose on multiple fronts. It will lose its credibility in the battle against actual political correctness. Worse, it will lose any self-governing restraint against brutish and alienating behavior.

There exists no virtue in offending people for the sake of offending them, nor in saying objectively incorrect things.