Thursday, July 16, 2015

Political Correctness is a Human Rights Violation

One sphere in which the denial of our mammalian heritage can readily be observed is that of political correctness. Those of us who are self-aware continuously recognize visceral reactions that we experience when we come into contact with certain people, and that some of these reactions may not be on the approved list. For example, I have developed both positive and negative associations with various ethnicities which consciously or unconsciously affect how I react to people, though without entailing rigid categories or unfair judgments on my part. For example, I grew up in a suburb of New York City inhabited by many lower-middle-class immigrants from Southern Italy, whom I generally found to be unrefined, and this association has stuck with me throughout my life. There was one family in particular that I got to know quite well which inadvertently encouraged stereotype formation. The mother doted on her two sons, and they could do practically whatever they liked. The older brother sometimes found it convenient to blow his nose on his bed sheet. The mother stayed home all day cooking and cleaning, and the father worked in the construction business in Queens. He drove a big black Cadillac, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had some connections with organized crime. They were nice enough people, but overall I developed a visceral dislike for the Southern Italians in the area. Later, when I lived near Chicago, I was exposed to a lot of Mexicans who mostly did landscaping or worked in restaurants. Although I came to respect their work ethic, it was obvious that the majority of them had little or no interest in becoming integrated members of American society, and they were operating within a self-imposed system of cultural isolation which made them relatively inaccessible to me. They generally seemed like poorly-educated lower class people who only wanted to work and be left alone.

In contrast to these somewhat negative reactions, I have more positive associations with some groups. The African blacks from Senegal and Liberia whom I met in college seemed intelligent, articulate and were often fun to be around. Later I worked with two Vietnamese refugees who were pleasant to encounter and seemed intelligent. My son-in-law, a Tibetan who grew up in Nepal, has a personality similar to my own. Although Americans comprise a highly mixed group, I usually place them somewhere in the middle in terms of positive and negative associations. On average there seems to be a dull, conformist, bovine quality to Americans that is hard to like but not particularly offensive. I also have mixed feelings about Northern Europeans even though I'm half English. My running theory is that the people who adapted to the harsh climate in Northern Europe may have become more cerebral than emotional, purely as a matter of survival, and as a result may have become emotionally stunted compared to Mediterraneans, who are generally more expressive.

Whether people admit it or not, they all have these kinds of reactions and take actions based on them. In my case this came into play in deciding where to live in retirement. I value low population density, an aesthetically desirable natural environment and an educated population, but as it has turned out I am also comfortable living in one of the least ethnically diverse states in the country. Vermont has a 96.4% white population, the highest of any state, though I didn't specifically consider this fact when deciding to move here. Our decision was based largely on an exploratory trip during which everyone whom we happened to encounter was white, and there were no Hispanics. We may still have chosen to move here if we had encountered different ethnic groups, but I think a case could be made for deep psychological influences underlying a preference for environments in which one feels an instinctive connection to the inhabitants, real or imagined.

The point here is that part of being human is having reactions like this, and the people who tell us to stop having them simply do not understand human nature. At best they are confusing the idea that all people must be treated equally, which is essentially a legal concept necessary to maintain fairness and order in a multicultural society, with an erroneous theory of human nature that denies the existence of known reactions that developed through an evolutionary process over the course of millions of years. Everyone has these reactions, and they are often harmless unless codified into a system such as Nazism, slavery, segregation or apartheid. In those instances the thought police, who directly benefited materially from the systems, created societies rife with inequality and unfairness. Unfortunately, the thought police in the U.S. today are just as likely to be associated with political correctness as with anything else. One may see this either as a misguided attempt by privileged liberals to put a stamp of authority on their sense of moral superiority or as a symptom of a collapsing society that attributes greater wisdom to the uninformed than they can possibly merit. Thankfully we are still able to laugh at political correctness or ignore it without going to jail.

2 comments:

  1. I work for what's basically the HQ, Precinct Europe, of the Global Thought Police, where I sometimes hear or read some pretty crazy assertions about equality of outcome or so-called hate crime. Other times, people show that they are well aware that excess political correctness, for want of a better term, will simply result in the Organization's (uppercase o, please) becoming marginalized.

    I'll be in VT next week. Perhaps I'll ride the bike by your house.

    John

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    1. I'll probably be here all next week and will be accessible, though Anne's father is visiting from England.

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