PC Culture

Last night I read an article, “Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture” in the Atlantic, originally published in October, 2018, reporting on a study about Americans’ view of PC Culture. 8000 people participated in the study. The article had no “angle.” It was just a report. The upshot of the report is that most Americans — the very large cross-culture and cross-color majority — feel uncomfortable with PC Culture. This vast majority is made up of people of all races and earns less than $50K/year. Of the various “political tribes” that emerged from the study, the “tribe” that embraced PC Culture (which is, at best, an amorphous term) most passionately has been labeled “Progressive Activists,” a group predominantly white, earning more than $100k/year with post-graduate degrees. It is a very small percentage of the population and an objective “elite.” The author of the article is part of that elite.

It’s possible to draw a lot of conclusions from this article. One easy (and, IMO wrong) is that cultural sensitivity (which isn’t, IMO, reflected by PC Culture) increases with affluence and education. The conclusion I drew is that the group of people that has (beyond race) the most in common is out there in the “trenches” working shoulder-by-shoulder every day. That group feels uncomfortable with PC Culture. One native-American respondent said he worried all the time that he would get something wrong and offend someone. What are the repercussions of that? I don’t know. I suppose that might depend on the context of his life, his job or maybe simply his personality.

The author — Yacha Mounk, a German/American political writer and professor who is studying the rise of populism throughout the world — doesn’t hide his biases. It’s clear that the study has made him question what he thought he knew to be true. This struck me particularly:

“…while 80 percent of Americans believe that political correctness has become a problem in the country, even more, 82 percent, believe that hate speech is also a problem.

It turns out that while progressive activists tend to think that only hate speech is a problem, and devoted conservatives tend to think that only political correctness is a problem, a clear majority of all Americans holds a more nuanced point of view: They abhor racism. But they don’t think that the way we now practice political correctness represents a promising way to overcome racial injustice.”


It made me think of the day of the Rodney King riots back in 1992 and the numerous signs I saw all over town as I drove home to my ghetto house in a very mixed neighborhood, signs saying, “Can’t we all just get along?” That day I took a walk at a nearby lake with my dogs. I saw a black couple I’d often seen on my walks and sometimes we nodded to each other to say, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen you before, you must live in the hood,” but we never spoke. That day we stopped and looked at each other a long time, tears in all of our eyes. That encounter ended in a big, three-way hug. The man said, “When are we going to be able to stop worrying about the color of someone’s skin?”

“I wish I knew,” I thought that day and think today.

My personal feeling is that people just want to get along with each other and the study seems to indicate the same thing. I got the message from some of the comments made by focus group members that people (of all cultures and colors) would rather just go to work, do their jobs, get along with their co-workers, pick up their pay check and go home than worry about whether they have gotten the latest progressive liberal mandated term for a group of human beings who — accidentally — have skin of a different color. Personally, I believe actions speak louder than words and its how we treat each other on a daily basis that matters the most, whatever we call each other.

I also think that DJT’s race baiting is a dangerous stunt that is designed to keep us distracted from bigger issues like the national debt, health insurance, poor schools, etc. But that’s a different blog post and I’m not likely to write it.


13 thoughts on “PC Culture

  1. Solid info and very thought-provoking, Martha. An effective leader could take us a long way toward this end, but here in the U.S. we now have something even worse than the opposite, pulling the wrong direction.

  2. I think part of the reason people don’t like PC Culture is because of the call-out/cancel culture that comes along with it. A good number of SJW people aren’t looking to increase cultural sensitivity and equality, they just want to call people out and make themselves look better by calling other people racist. Like that Asian writer who ended up canceling the release of her debut YA novel because people were so incensed by her using slavery in her book (even though she was trying to draw correlations to slavery and human trafficking in Asia-not the slavery of African-Americans.)
    Or Justine Sacco who was trying to make a joke ABOUT privilege and stereotypes, and ended up having her entire life ruined.

    Wanting to be senstive and end micro-aggressions and learn about other people is great. But at this pont, that’s not what PC culture is about. It’s about humiliating and vilifying people.

    • I agree with you even though I have NO idea what SJW means. I had to tread very carefully in my novel, The Price, over the question of indentured servitude during the early colonial period which, as I learned, was far closer to slavery than we are taught in school. That happens to be true, but we just don’t SAY that. I truly despise aspects of revisionist history which has done nothing other than inflict a DIFFERENT arbitrary interpretation on the lives and actions of people we can never completely understand.

      • SJW means “Social Justice Warrior”, they’re the worst of PC culture.
        You are braver than I! lol I’d never get close to anything regarding slavery or indentured servitude as a white lady. But I think it’s cool you’re trying to tackle the topic. Revisionist history is a big problem. Everything regarding identity politics has this ONE WAY we’re supposed to think. Like, the one area where I actually feel qualified to speak is in terms of gender. I’m a feminist, but modern feminism has become so black and white. We need to talk more about the ways that men are disenfranchised too. We’ve never lived in a world where men are unilaterally, in all spheres of life, privileged over women. But that’s the “correct” way to look at the world through a feminist lens, at least in the most toxic of SJW PC circles.

        • Ha ha! Thanks for explaining SJW. Yeah, that is egregious opposite pole.

          I’m opposed to thought control and censorship categorically. As for the disenfranchisement of men? I don’t know. In my experience if a man wants something I have, he can beat me up and take it away if he wants it. But the point there is that our own direct experiences with “groups” “tribes” etc. affects our perspective a LOT.

          • It’s not just about physical wants and needs though. Masculinity comes with expectations just as femininity does. Men have less room for gender expression than women do (women can adopt masculine traits and still be considered feminine). There’s a lot of shame levied at men who fail at masculinity, much more so than women.
            Women are given priority in family court and custody battles.
            If a woman attacks a man, a man can not defend himself without risking imprisonment (there are many real world examples where exactly that has happened).
            Men are shamed for being sensitive, short, skinny or not muscular, virgins, and many other qualities that are not deemed “masculine.”
            In addition, suicide and homelessness affect far more men than women.
            While women are affected by domestic violence at greater rates than men, men do still experience it and the resources available to them are nearly non-existant.
            Male life is valued far less than female life. Men are expected to constantly protect and act the hero. While women are allowed to be cowards.
            Like one example that makes me livid is the teachers in the Columbine high school shooting. Dave Sanders, a male, acted the hero as everyone expects men to do and he died. Patti Nielson hid under a desk like a coward and listened to children be murdered. Before the killers ever enter the library, the 911 operator asks her to try to lock the library doors and Nielson refuses saying, “I’m not going over there, I have three children.” If she was a man, she would have been torn apart by the media, but because she’s a woman she’s allowed to be a coward and she still works at Columbine to this day.

            Whew! That was a lot. Sorry to ramble, but yeah I just had to argue your point that a man’s physical strength means that he’s not disenfranchised. Plus, many dudes just aren’t physically strong. A lot of factors go into gender socialization, of which material items, political and social power, and physical strength are only one small part.
            The privilege to be vulnerable and weak without shame is not one afforded to men, and in this way they are disenfranchised.

            • I see your point, but in my whole working life I lost opportunities because of men. One man sabotaged my getting tenure because I had refused to do him. Another man, a boss, yelled at me in the office of our department, shoving me against a wall and yelling in my face. I’ve had male students behave similarly when they didn’t get the grade they thought they deserved. I know. I am small and that has affected the way men have treated me, too, especially men in my generation (boomers) and earlier.

              To me the fact that physical strength (on a basic animal and not social level) is power matters. Watching Trump “debate” Hillary and hover over her with his mass and height? Modeled that perfectly. BUT as feminism has taught many men that this kind of behavior isn’t OK (even when they are capable of it) your point becomes important. Still, I think we’ve made progress.

              Females have their own way of bullying people, I know that too. Shudder.

              Personally, I think biology is more important and influential in male vs. female behavior than we admit. Social conditioning isn’t everything. Any mother animal is going to protect HER young FIRST. I don’t think the female teacher was a coward. She made a choice just as the male teacher made a choice. I think those choices may be just as much individual choices as they were influenced by social conditioning. I don’t know and I can’t know.

  3. “When are we going to be able to stop worrying about the color of someone’s skin?”

    There are “activists” who want to make sure that doesn’t happen. There are people who assert that if one tries to judge a person based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, then one is a racist. Many of them teach sociology and related courses in college.

    Words like racism were redefined, contrary to what you’d see in a dictionary. Historical events were deconstructed to the point where they were unrecognizable. Subtlety, nuance, and symmetry were alien concepts. No sense of individual responsibility. Everything was broken down by whatever particular group you were in. It was quite Orwellian.

    I did finish the degree but what a hassle!

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