The Battle Over Political Correctness
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Politics and Activism

The Battle Over Political Correctness

In Order To Create The Future We Want, We First Have To Rebrand Our Message And Work Together

The Battle Over Political Correctness

Recently, in a late-night procrastination spree, I stumbled upon an article that someone had shared on Facebook entitled, “Enjoy Your Transgender Bathrooms. We Just Lost America.” by an author named Kyle S. Reyes. I totally respect the opinion if this author; he even wrote a disclaimer at the end of his article saying, “I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything in this article.” So, this author wrote this article knowing that it was controversial and that some of his opinions were unpopular. Likewise, I am writing this article knowing that not everyone will agree with me. Actually, I do agree with bits and pieces of Reyes' article, and I think that his main argument was well-meaning, though some of the examples he uses are a little misplaced. To a degree, both this author and I are generalizing about a complex issue that our country is faced with and sweeping very specific, distinctly different issues under the same broad category. That being said, I am not out to figuratively rip this guy’s throat out and write him off as a bigot, but I thought he brought up some interesting discussion points that many seem to have strong opinions about, whether they agree or disagree.

This article got me thinking about the various social and political issues and movements that have emerged in the past couple of years, and then, of course, all of the counter-movements and resistances that formed as a result. Once “feminism” became okay to say out loud again, it wasn’t long until #Meninist shirts were up for sale online. Once the “Black Lives Matter” movement emerged after senseless tragedy after senseless tragedy, white people started saying “no, all lives matter,” as if protecting the rights of someone else suddenly took away their own rights. Once transgender people were finally able to publicly address their concerns after years of living in silence and marginalization, it was brushed off as a silly debate over an issue of their preserving their "feelings" instead of protecting their rights and safety. Once marriage was finally made equal by law, people found loopholes and denied people their rights in order to serve their personal beliefs. Once trigger warnings are put in place so victims of sexual abuse don't have to relive traumatic moments again, this is written off as needless "babysitting." The tone of this article alone is enough to prove that many social issues that our country is faced with today are simply not being taken seriously enough by the other side to create any sort of change.

It seems as though no matter how far we get, we are still pulled two steps back because of how divided the state of our country currently is. Then, of course, there is always the argument that political correctness is holding us back, that it is dangerous, even. Of course, there will also be critics; there will always be people with opposing opinions. But does this mean that we shouldn’t at least try to be taken more seriously? Shouldn't we at least try to listen to the other side to make our arguments stronger, or at least use this so we can find some sort of common ground? And just because our country is divided, does this mean that we can just leave those who need us hanging? We can't keep silent, but if our voices are no longer being taken seriously, or our ideals seem to be further dividing our country, then it is time to maybe rethink how we want to send our message.

In order to advocate for issues that matter to our generation, we need to re-market, re-brand, and think about why and how these issues may be dividing Americans. Many are repelled by political correctness because it seems like petty nit-picking, but in a way, it could possibly be a part of a bigger picture, changing the way we think, speak, act, learn, and empathize and creating a more tolerant world for everyone. So how will we achieve these meaningful results and not lose people in the process? These are the questions that we millennials who want to create a different, more tolerant future are faced with--especially when we have unapologetically harsh and determined critics. It takes a lot of time and a lot of patience to undo history, so what needs to be addressed and what can be brushed under the table for another day? And how long will it be until the little puppy under the table grows stronger and vicious and starts biting our ankles during a dinner party? Will we be able to still ignore the problem or should we have just diffused the problem while it was still small? Our country has a habit of ignoring problems at home because the World’s Greatest Country cannot, can never ever, look bad to Those Other Countries.

I like the idea in Reyes' article that we should become less divided as a country; I think this is something that we seriously need to work on, but I think it is also important to be able to help and empathize with those who are different than us. The fact that our own country needs improvement does not mean that we are given the “Xenophobic License” to deny people from other countries refuge from a dangerous situation in a place they once called home.

Again, Reyes makes a point that is mostly well-meaning, but uses cringe-worthy examples to back up his argument:

“We’re terribly focused on what matters to us as individuals. Marriage. Cell phones. Birth control. On and on and on. We’re so worried about what matters to “me” that we forgot that in order for us to have a ‘me’ … we have to first have an ‘us.’ A safe 'us.' A unified ‘us.’ An ‘us’ that can at least find some kind of middle ground.”

Yes, our country does seem to currently be very divided, and this is a problem when it prevents laws from being passed and prevents our leaders from being efficient. However, these issues are still important to many and could potentially unite us more than divide us. If everyone has the right to love and marry who they want, for example, wouldn't that make us feel like we are all equal as human beings? Shouldn't we become empathetic enough as a human race that the fight for rights and happiness of other humans, regardless of our minuscule differences, is our fight too? Birth control rights, also, are no light matter. Reyes throws birth control into the mix as if women in America are whining over a caramel latte at Starbucks.

So, yes, let's try to cooperate a little better with others; let's find the "us," the "middle ground." But doesn't "us" include all Americans from all walks of life? And how can we make sure that all our messages are delivered effectively while still getting things done?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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