After years being a champion for “political correctness,” I have decided that we should all do away with the term. The term “politically correct” undermines the intent of being respectful and gives people an “excuse” to use disrespectful terms. If all we want is for people to respect others, why must we come up with a whole new term?
I used to believe that being politically correct respected the disenfranchised groups. They were reasserting their power and control by dictating how they wished people to talk to them. I strove to be politically correct in all of my language, but I never once equated it with respect. I thought that being politically correct and being respectful were two different ideas. It is this separation that I recently reconciled as I realized that we do not need another term to say we respect others. An interesting Huffington Post article led me to this reconciliation as it mentions a Google Chrome app which replaces “politically correct” with “respect.” I’ve brought this up with friends and family members who fully endorse this decision and have even started to adapt it.
I propose that we dump the term “politically correct” and merely just try to retain respect as we talk to and about individuals and groups. Labelling this respect with PC gives people an easy excuse to back out. For example, many people applaud Donald Trump’s announcement that he’s “so tired of this politically correct crap.” Ben Carson has also exclaimed that “political correctness is destroying our nation.” Other media outlets and politicians often blame the “PC Police” for destroying free speech. For example, Fox Business writes, “Political correctness is destroying the American dream.”
To a lot of people, these declarations would be welcome. Huffington Post writes, “the effect of political correctness has been to make everyone avoid these topics altogether—thereby hindering our ability to get comfortable in living and working with those who are different from us.” By abandoning the idea of political correctness, people would finally be able to discuss issues and events.
The recent backlash to political correctness goes with the move that Americans are “coddling” their youth with safe spaces and the lack of dissent. While it is of course important to discuss controversial topics, one must always maintain respect and decorum. Contrary to Mr. Trump’s statements, disrespect is not necessary for dialogue.
Let’s step back a minute and go to the root of the PC movement. It was also developed to give respect and autonomy to those parties who are being talked about. The marginalized communities are now able to set how they would like people to refer to and treat them. Following these guidelines is merely respecting their wishes. If we were to go back and change “political correctness” to “respect” in those headlines and quotes, they would sound rather inappropriate and have had a much stronger backlash.
“Politically correct” is a term which enables people to paint respect and autonomy as unnecessary. Respect should not need to go by any other term.