Political Correctness drives me crazy, how about you?
There are many injustices in the world that anger me, most notably those that I have experienced personally but indirectly from our educational work in Nepal, my wife’s original homeland. Specifically, the general subjugation of women, the abhorrent caste system, female genital mutilation, flagrant political corruption at every level, low educational opportunity for girls, unpunished rape, forced marriage, a dowry system. To see these institutionalised inhumanities in a country like Nepal, and others around the world, is a shameful indictment of the United Nations, the international aid system, and ………. every human being on the planet who marches, protests, riots and agitates against whether a statue of Rhodes should remain in the university grounds, people who speak out against excessive illegal immigration, calling children “boys” or “girls” in school, (instead of using some gender neutral term), believing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, calling a person black or brown instead of “a person of colour” (does that mean as a white man I am “a person of no colour” !) and on and on and on, INSTEAD of marching against far greater injustices around the world. In my book they are nothing but virtue signallers!
To expand on a couple of examples from above, firstly we had the Rhodes Must Fall political correctness campaign led by South African student Joshua Nott who called for the removal of a Cecil Rhodes statue due to Rhodes’ association with racism 200 years ago. Somewhat hypocritically however Nott accepted a £40,000 Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford!
Secondly we have the case of a U.K. school teacher suspended because he called a transgender pupil “a girl” when he said “well done girls” to a group containing the said transgender pupil. Joshua Sutcliffe now faces charges of misgendering after a complaint by politically correct parents and could lose his job! Update: He has now been fired and has entered an independent legal appeal.
Political correctness is all around us, in the Western World at least, and has become associated with censorship; censorship of policies, behaviour norms, actions, words, and most worryingly ……. censorship of thought! And don’t doubt that last bit for a moment; try speaking out against illegal immigration and see how quickly you are accused of “thinking” racism, fascism, islamophobia, and a whole host of other “isms”. The fact that the PC Brigade can supposedly read minds and are rarely challenged not only beggars belief but is a danger to us all.
A Psychologists View
As a psychologist this phenomenon intrigues me as well as angers me and I was interested to read a recent article on the subject in Scientific American. Scott Barry Kaufman examined the “Personality of Political Correctness” and quoted extensively from the research of Christine Brophy and Jordan Peterson.
Kaufman begins by describing the views of Opponents and Proponents of Political Correctness as follows:
1. The PC Opponents believe that the PC movement is a form of “cultural Marxism”, likening the PC philosophy to the major elements of the Leninist, Stalinist, and Maoist regimes. They believe that PC Proponents often commit the very evils they claim to correct, including reverse discrimination and suppression of free speech.
2. Proponents of PC believe that their concerns of tolerance and equality are legitimate, and that censorship is a preventive measure so that disadvantaged groups are not further discriminated against. Some even go so far as to believe that they are villainised by opponents of PC (who are unjust people) so that white, heterosexual males can maintain their positions of power.
So what we have is a complete standoff where there seems to be no possibility of flexibility from either side, no engagement and no discussion. So what to do?
Maybe a step in the right direction (am I allowed to say that?), is to try and understand “who ARE the politically correct?”, what are their beliefs, motives and goals, and this was the subject of an interesting psychological study by Brophy and Peterson. To be brief, their research determined that there are two dimensions (scales) of political correctness and these are PC Egalitarianism and PC Authoritarianism, each being associated with a tendency to take offence at the behaviour of others.
Egalitarians believe that differences between groups or types of people result from cultural differences and that the solution lies with increased diversity as a means to equality.
Authoritarians believe that differences between groups of people have a biological basis and that the solution lies with censorship of material that offends and punitive justice on those who offend. Their beliefs lead to advocating a more autocratic form of governance.
The Personality of Political Correctness
My own recent observations of collective moral outrage shown by many groups around the world and related to a wide range of issues such as immigration policies, Islamic extremism, defining sexual harassment, gay rights, election of Donald Trump, Trump visiting the U.K., point to PC Authoritarianism predominating over Egalitarianism. At times it is as if a howling mob has been let loose, demanding loss of job, loss of pension, prosecution, and even impeachment for anyone who disagrees with their views on the issues listed.
To go a step further, the research highlighted the following personality traits in these PC Authoritarians:
• High sensitivity to disgust
• High need for order
• High anxiety or mood disorder
• Lower vocabulary than PC Egalitarians
• Tendency to forgive all transgressions and failures of those they seek to “protect”
• Tendency to act aggressively towards those they disagree with
Now remember, these Politically Correct groups are rightly labelled as supporters of left wing policies, seeing themselves as the bastions of morality against all groups on the far right of the political spectrum. But the paradox here, and the conclusion of Brophy and Peterson, is that all of their behaviours and traits have much in common with the authoritarians of the far right they abhor. In other words it is these people who are the fascists of the world, practicing racism against their own countrymen and generally acting in an undemocratic way. Time for the world to “wise up” to these VERY dangerous people, to stand up to them, to denounce them for what they are, because if we don’t they will infiltrate every institution of democracy our ancestors fought for. They’ve already claimed the BBC and the Guardian!