This observation came up for a while now in noting the various absurdities of the pro-political correctness crowd that in many cases, they seem to judge everything in a “one size fits all” sort of way. This is probably no surprise to many of my fellow conservatives, but I do want to expand on this particular aspect of it. Imagine a few scenarios if you will which I will proceed to describe:
A few students are gathered in the cafeteria for dinner at some college somewhere, and meet up with a few friends and acquaintances. Some of these friends also brought over their friend groups unknown to your group. To break the ice, one white student asks a student of color “Uh, so, where are you from?” The student of color answers “Oh, I’m from Upstate NY…”. The white student then prods further, “But, where are you from originally? Where are you really from?”
A guy goes out to a party on a Friday night with his buddies. They see a group of what looks to be girls wanting to look for a date to dance with and hang out with. One guy is nervous, and really doesn’t know what to say to start the conversation and absentmindedly blurts out “Hey, you’d look nice if you smile” to one girl staring off more absentmindedly. She gets angry and retorts “It’s not my job to smile for you!”
In a discussion about race, a participant says “I don’t see color, I treat everyone equally…” when asked how they would view a solution to stopping racism and racial bias.
A co-worker recently has come out that they are transitioning to be transgender. They tell everyone what pronoun to use and the new name they want to be called, but many at the office find it hard to remember either, and out of habit, refer to and accidentally address the person by their old name/pronouns.
A white person called up on stage during a concert (This is based off a real event) to sing a rap song written and sung by a black performer included the “N”-word as it was in the lyrics of the song.
At the neighborhood picnic, a neighbor reveals he has Native American ancestry and someone asks “So, how Indian are you?”.
All of the above examples are considered offensive and demeaning within the politically correct edicts. Reasons given for each scenario are asking where someone is from “others” that person and makes them feel like you don’t think they’re a legitimate American and like an exotic other. Asking a girl to smile is now considered sexist and a form of harassment, a sexist entitlement to make a woman conform to your needs vs. her own autonomy. The idea of being “colorblind”, the Left says, does not help not being racist, and in fact, now is racist as they believe it marginalizes the influence race plays in inequality. Not using the correct names and pronouns for a transgendered person de-legitimizes their choice to be transgender and live as their preferred gender. Non-black people are not allowed to use racial slurs, but black people are exempt as they are said to be “reclaiming” the slurs once used to oppress them. And in the last but certainly not the last example of what constitutes a PC faux pas, asking “How Indian are you?” is said to be ignorant and offensive as it implies they’re not a “real” Native American.
On the surface, these seem to be at least semi-believable explanations. They have been said over and over to the latest generation, including myself many times throughout school, media and society. However, looking deeper into each reveals the issues may not be so black and white in of themselves, but also the key factor: The intentions of the people who made such an “Un-PC” mistake.
Saying “Where are you from?” because someone looks a little different is not always, and in fact is most likely not a pointed slight to make someone feel like an outsider. The question in any other context is simply used as an ice breaker to start a conversation and get to know a person more. It’s really context dependent and also in your tone of voice. Saying it in a suspicious and accusatory way does indeed hint to a less friendly intention, however a neutral question said in curiosity is most likely meant that way. In the scenario, however, it is pushed further when the answer wasn’t what the person was going for. Even then, I argue, it doesn’t have to be a display of bigotry. Is it always prejudice if the person genuinely had curiosity as to what part of the world someone’s heritage came from, especially if they do look different than most others around? Yes, in that case the person being asked is sort of “the other”, but the point in asking what part of the world they are from ethnically is to make them less of an outsider, and to become more familiar with them. Racism and prejudice can stem from ignorance, but the key to combating ignorance is asking questions to gain knowledge! Most who ask such questions, while can appear insensitive, are merely just curious, not prejudicial and suspicious. Curiosity is NOT bigotry!
Asking a girl to smile I will say, is probably awkward in most cases depending how you phrase it and if you’re talking to a stranger. However, labeling it as depriving women of their bodily autonomy and being male entitlement is going way off the deep end! Think of it: A young guy who is shy and awkward around girls might blurt out something that’s a bit awkward and not quite the ideal pick up line, but is that an expression of oppressing women? I’d argue the last thing any nervous guy approaching a girl to ask her out feels is “entitled”! Asking a girl to smile is nowhere near REAL harassment of women…
Saying “I don’t see color” while not the catch all solution to end all forms of racism and bias, had its heart in the right place. While not solving racism, it fosters the attitude to help combat it as it is said in the spirit of treating every person as equal in human worth and dignity, regardless of skin color. The idea skin color isn’t even a factor in how we should treat others. The world would indeed be a much kinder place if we didn’t obsess over each other’s phenotypes…
I have other reasons to sympathize with those who don’t want to legitimize just “choosing” to be another gender and calling it reality, but in the common scenario that the pronoun and name conflict comes up, the issue of common habit, not a pointed rejection is a valid explanation. See, if you knew “Bob” your coworker as Bob and referred to him as a “he/him” for the 20 years you worked at the company, it may be a harder transition to consistently remember to call him “Susie” and “she/her” overnight! Even if you’re perfectly okay with his/her choice, just the sheer habit of knowing him by one name and identity takes a lot of getting used to, and slip ups happen… If the pronouns are different such as the made up gender neutral ones, it’s like learning a new language!
If you get invited to sing a song at a concert, that contains a swear word, and you say said taboo word, is it your fault as if you chose to say it spontaneously? If it’s not your own word, you’re just quoting someone else’s choice to use it, and if it’s in the song the artist invites you to sing, then why omit it? The person in that scenario that said the racial slur was NOT saying it to disparage anyone, nor was her own choice of words, but the lyrics to a popular rap sing she was INVITED to sing! Racism never even entered the picture other than she was white and singing along to a song written by a black artist. In this case, context means everything…
And in my last example, it’s related to the first one: Curiosity. No one is prodding to do detective work into if someone is a “real” Indian, or anyone else (Unless you’re running for political office capitalizing on that status 😉 )! People can be genuinely and innocently curious about things, and it means no more than that. Asking how Indian someone is is simply about curiosity, and many wouldn’t even think it would be offensive to ask any more than asking how much German or Italian ancestry someone had. Does anyone of mixed ethnic European ancestry feel invalidated and feel less German or less French or English for instance if someone asks how much ancestry they have of those respective countries?
And tying all these various examples of some “microaggressions” as the Left calls them together, the common theme is the “perpetrators” are either merely curious, or ignorant that it is coming off as offensive or insensitive. No one in all scenarios presented had deliberate intent to oppress, marginalize, invalidate and belittle anyone! Yes, pointed and snide comments can happen, and are meant to be offensive, and I advocate for everyone to stand their ground if insulted so. However, before making that comeback to shut them up, think first on the intention of that off color remark or seemingly insensitive comment or question. Did they mean to hurt or belittle you, or were they simply curious or ignorant of how it came off to your ears? Most, if told they offended would feel mortified and apologize right away! Let me emphasize this again: Curiosity is not bigotry. Ignorance is not prejudice. The vast majority of microaggressions are merely mistakes and misunderstandings, not targeted insults. The elder who uses that outdated word is just saying what was acceptable in their generation without malice. The kids dressed up as Indians aren’t thinking “Hey, isn’t it fun to marginalize Native Americans?” The nervous guy just blurted something awkward out and is embarrassed, not entitled! Ignorantly assuming something off a common stereotype betrays lack of knowledge and familiarity, not lack of acceptance and kindness.
Yes, I also realize damage can be done even with good intentions. However, intentions do matter. Breaking the prized vase does damage regardless if you pushed it on purpose or by being knowingly reckless, or simply bumped into it and it fell. However, one is judged to be an accident, and one a deliberate act or one you are culpable for neglecting to be careful of such an event. How is that done? By the intention of the person who did it! Why isn’t it the same for all these PC grievances too? A person may feel “othered” by a comment or question regardless of original intent, but in terms of judging the one who said it, one should consider did they mean any harm and did they know it would offend? Unfortunately, the politically correct crowd only sees everything as a one size fits all issue of perpetual offense and demonizing those who unwittingly commit the dreaded microaggression… Well, all I have to say to them is just wait until it’s YOU on the other end of the accusation… How will YOU want to be judged? 😉