Letters: ‘The Term Political Correctness Primes People to Respond Negatively’

Readers respond to a new study showing that the majority of Americans reject PC culture.

Dominick Reuter / AFP / Getty

Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture

Earlier this month, Yascha Mounk explored the results of a new study on polarization in America. A large majority of Americans, the study found, believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.”

The article written by Yascha Mounk sums up exactly the problems with political correctness. PC creates fear and resentment in those who are constantly chastised for expressing themselves incorrectly and not adhering strictly to the confusing and ever-evolving rules. Sadly, liberal ideology—which intended to bring greater freedom and equality to everyone—has been subverted by individuals who believe that they have the right to rule over their fellow citizens because of their superior knowledge, education, and intelligence (all, of course, subjective conclusions) and has become a means of control (not liberation) enforced on those who are not part of this small, minority, elitist group.

History teaches us that these small, elite groups do not succeed in their efforts to bring about societal change for the better. The Russian Revolution was supposed to bring freedom to the Russian people when it deposed the Tsar and toppled the wealthy and educated aristocracy that helped the monarch rule the country. We know the result was the opposite: Oppression and repression became the key characteristics of the Soviet Communist regime.

Today’s “exhausted majority” have intuitively grasped that the liberal elites, while claiming to be virtuous and seeking to improve the majority’s lot in life, do not really have those interests at heart but simply wish to establish themselves as the new aristocracy with rights to rule and special entitlements not available to the majority. They do not comprehend the way the majority think, nor do they share the daily problems encountered by the majority trying to make a living and support their families.

The famous French Queen Marie Antoinette, when advised that the peasants were starving and had no bread, supposedly said, “Let them eat cake” instead. She was completely out of touch with her people. So, too, are the liberal activists who have created the rules of PC. It is their actions that have made Donald Trump president. If they do not learn this lesson and change their ways, it is likely that Western civilization will slowly but surely move toward a new dark age, where the peoples are ruled by fear and ignorance rather than enlightened wisdom.

William Nixon
Sydney, Australia

If the question asked was, “Do you think PC culture has gone too far?” the study simply answers the question of whether people’s personal ideas of what PC culture is have gone too far, without any consideration of what these ideas are.

Without actual relevant data, no one, including Mr. Mounk or More in Common, [which conducted the study] should have been drawing any sure conclusions from what they gathered.

Will Martin
Arlington, Va.

This article and its research were based on a false premise. There is no consensus about what “political correctness” means.

A solid research study would have asked Americans simple questions like, “Do you think all people should be treated the same?” or “Do you think all people deserve to be treated with respect?” Even more insightful would have been the questions, “If you use language that offends someone else, what do you do? What do you think is the proper response?”

Finding out the answer to these questions would have been much more useful. Fox News and Trump have defined what “political correctness” means to the point where people think it means, Gee, I have to watch my words. But that’s not what it means to me. PC means “Treat everyone with the same respect.”

If Americans would just talk to each other and just listen to each other then I don’t think that you would find the faux tribes that were inaccurately defined here.

Kate Permut
Scarborough, N.Y.

I believe that PC is easily defined as just being polite. If you use a term to which someone takes offense (black rather than people of color, for example), then simply apologize and change your conversation. I don’t understand why it’s such a big problem for so many people.

Frank Jenkins
Tulsa, Okla.

While it is uncomfortable to think that the use of the wrong word to describe someone could generate disapprobation, it is also clear that the use of thoughtless arguments, terms, and false science has helped create a culture in which “white” people have felt comfortable with ideas that are inherently racist. When people tell me how offended they are by the need to follow political correctness, I usually say that my grandmother would have understood the concept as fostering politeness and respect. There is a need for both, and a pressing need to end racism.

Allen Hunt
Yellow Springs, Ohio

The term political correctness primes people to respond negatively —indeed, it was coined in order to dismiss and demean the concerns of people who have long been dismissed and demeaned for being “different.” I don’t know how to get around that—it’s out there and, like so many other terms, it serves the interests of what I’ll call, for lack of a better phrase, the powers that be.

Mary Severance
San Francisco, Calif.

Several readers responded on Facebook and Twitter:

Natalie Jane wrote: It’s one thing to be worried about accidentally offending somebody, it’s another entirely to be the recipient of something hurtful (especially since it can affect other aspects of people’s lives). I think we can and should strive to treat people as less disposable, but at the end of the day, marginalized people deserve respect and we have a lot of cultural shifts (that may be uncomfortable) past due on our way to a more equitable society.

Daniel John Companion wrote: The theme here is very simple and I taught about it in my civics class for years: that western society is polarized between two equally dangerous and disturbing ends of the political spectrum I refer to the Uber left and Uber right. Everyone else is caught between these absurd radicals. It’s time for a resurgence of the moderate “middle” whether slightly to the left or right does not matter; extremists on both sides have leveraged social media and created a false sense of foreboding doom that need not exist.