The United States is suffering from an identity crisis, one that creates hostility from its citizens and pits their ideologies against each other on a daily basis. The crisis I'm speaking of involves the controversy over "political correctness," also referred to as the "PC" culture. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, being PC is basically acknowledging and avoiding offensive, or otherwise inappropriate language or actions that offend various groups of people.
While this is a vague and simplistic description, it gets to the heart of why so many people are up in arms over a seemingly simplistic concept. Unfortunately, something as simple as this seems to be lost on a large population of Americans. For those people in the anti-PC corner of the debate, the mere mention of a change in their mentality conjures up images of "safe spaces" and triggers the term "snowflake" for them to hurl at their opposition.
Note: the following terms or phrases that I will be using are explicit and by no means a reflection of my views or usage. It is also not my intention to encourage others to employ them, rather provide an unabridged awareness of such reprehensible behavior.
One of the biggest issues related to this problem is the acceptance of these words and/or phrases in different circles of people. For example, the words "fag" and "gay" can be used by some to indicate that something or someone is stupid or somehow out of the ordinary. This obviously gives pause for others, since the terms are synonymous with people who are part of the LGBTQ community. African-Americans have historically been on the receiving end of this problem as well. Their designation by some as n-words, thugs or gang bangers has grossly tarnished a group of people who helped build this county (against their will, mind you) and continue to help shape who we are as Americans.
Some of the most horrific terms are racially-charged as well and reach across dozens of other races or other types of people. I could go on for hours and point out the countless slurs that are disrespectful and degrading, but this article would lose its luster and bury the point I am making.
Another trend in the anti-PC world is the demeaning of certain groups of people. Recently, the focus has again been geared towards Muslims and Hispanics, this time at an alarming rate. This is based off irrational fear of terrorism and wide-spread immigrant occupation that is being sensationalized in headlines daily. So many people project their fear and ignorance into misplaced hatred on people they know little about.
The mischaracterization of Muslims as "radical Islamists," or Hispanics as drug dealers or "bad hombres" does tremendous damage to the way that outsiders see the American morality and value system. It also does harm to the very people we are aiming our hate speech at, making this country seem more excluding of foreigners and intolerant of religions and lifestyles differing from our own.
The America we know today was founded by refugees, who sought freedom from tyranny and religious persecution. The current political and social climate seems very contrary to this with citizens who try to deny the same opportunities, especially those who are already citizens. After all, is it not written in our Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal," with "certain unalienable rights… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" I'm pretty sure that when this document was drafted, the founding fathers weren't just referring to white American citizens.
While there is no specific fixed group of people, be it political, regional or socio-economic that owns the corner of being PC, there is someone in the Oval Office that deserves to be held accountable for the prevalence of anti-PC animosity. During the past election cycle, President Donald Trump ran on a campaign of fear-mongering and finger-pointing that used minorities and outsiders as his primary scapegoats. Trump's insistence of using verbiage that was inflammatory and at times racist, created a platform for bigots and racists in this country to unite and collectively voice their displeasure with the direction they thought this country was headed in.
Now I do not subscribe to the blanketed statement that all Trump supporters are "deplorable," and all share the same fury driven ideals. I do, however, believe that every single person who voted for him enabled his hateful rhetoric, as well as the supporters who feel emboldened by its sentiments therein. For every statement Trump makes that is considered "locker room talk" or "telling it as it is," there is a derogatory message conveyed with a direct or indirect attack on someone or some group.
His calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers as well as proposing a ban on Muslim immigrants shows time and time again him to be ignorant and racist.
I could spend time debating Trump's racism ad-nauseam, but his own words speak volumes. After all, this is the same guy who considers countries in Africa "shitholes." Some of his cabinet members are no saints either, as people such as his vice president are extremely anti-LGBTQ and take a hardline on women's rights to their own bodies.
In general, being PC might be difficult for people to grasp or otherwise conform to, but it isn't that hard to utilize one important factor: empathy. Although it is hard these days to think outside of our bubbles we live and socialize in, it is imperative to place ourselves in other people's shoes to gain a sense of understanding. Being politically correct isn't about being forced to bend to someone else's will. It is about being aware of, and appreciating, other people with different opinions and feelings.