The loud-mouth bully who hosted a reality TV show and ignores decorum and civility is now the leader of the free world
We often hear from some how being “politically correct” sugar coats the truth. Frank expressions of reality they claim speaks more honestly about the world. On the surface this seems right. But a deeper look into softer language defining people and places exposes something about those who use it and those who rebel against it.
We no longer use the “N” word as most whites did so loosely in our distant past. Our grandparents and great-grandparents thought nothing of this disparaging word in their day because it was something that was commonly accepted by the white consensus. Referring to mentally challenged people as “retarded” was something my boomer generation also used with little disregard for how it was received by those who it defined.
There was no malicious intent by those who used defining words of an era because they were aptly descriptive without meaning to be belittling. Their origins were often derived from the ancient languages of the Greeks and Romans. Other terms used today had meanings that were part of the common lexicon of cultures and had no derogatory basis. “Queers” would describe a homosexual because it was considered queer behavior from the norm over a century ago. Meaner words were used by those who were appalled by such behavior they saw as deviating from the norm. But to call someone queer in another time was not intended as a harsh epithet.
Clearly then as people who became victims of words that would evolve as mean and hateful attacks on one’s character, it unwittingly deprived the less harmless characterizations of the word to negatively impact those they originated for.
As our usage of words evolved it became clear to the public service community at least that softer, more politically correct and objective terms served the purpose of their disciplines. As a human services worker that worked at a state school facility in the 1970’s I became aware of this nomenclature evolution when the term “Mentally challenged” started replacing the word retarded for those under our care.
I also became aware that the word “moron” was once clinically acceptable by the medical profession of mentally handicapped people. But moron, retarded and even “mentally handicapped” were seen as expressions that associated such individuals with a condition that inhibited them from becoming accepted into mainstream society.
Hence as we became aware of how demeaning words were to some, efforts were made to change them and give expression to more positive stereotypes. This change however did not assimilate easily into mainstream society as it did with the scientific community and others who attempted to engage in honest, objective discourse regarding the subject.
Like all change, resistance is normal to previously accepted behavior. Part of the resistance came from people not unlike me who meant no harm in such word usage but we were also not unaware of how hurtful it could be used for when that dark behavior in all humans crept out from its superego constraints.
I know it comes across as smug when I say more educated and civil society were willing to make this change and remove the harsher terms that once reflected the norm in society but the simple truth is that this tends to be the case. Not that some social elites still fail to refrain from its use in select company. Altering behavior patterns is a conscious effort that takes time to acquire and for many, such change is a distraction for them living life as they have known it.
The change reflected a taking away from them something that was part of their common parlance. It was culturally established and thus seen as an attack on their culture. Rather than as an act of growth and human evolution it became a loss of personal freedom. And in this day & age personal freedom has become the rallying cry of many on the conservative side of the political spectrum.
Its antithesis, social responsibility, has somehow become a less valuable human trait. It has even been taken into territory where it doesn’t belong as some start to associate personal freedom with national patriotism and capitalism, while social responsibility is seen as an insidious form leading to communism, socialism and other constructs that deprive us of our individuality.
This of course would explain part of Donald Trump’s popularity with many of his supporters. Trump’s flagrant disregard for the softer language of political correctness was hailed by many at his campaign rallies, often expressed by those who held contempt for the “change” Barack Obama represented.
The bastardization of words and expressions that had deeper well-meanings to most people became a barrier to building bridges in late 20th century America. Compromise was seen as betrayal and social welfare was a dog whistle term for those who had low regard for people they felt had not earned their own keep in society. Minorities, especially blacks were often the victims of these irrational perceptions.
Where Trump excelled is that the previous dog-whistle usage of certain terms employed by earlier political conservatives became a bull horn for him. The more flagrantly he violated the concepts of political correctness the louder his supporters cheered him on, exposing our public shame that underling our notions of a decent and humane society were the old biases and ignorances we hoped had died decades ago. One only need recall how the crowds cheered Trump on when he mimicked a handicap reporter, Serge Kovaleski, at at a South Carolina rally.
This low-brow form of behavior will likely continue into his presidency. Signs of it were recently tweeted from Trump taunting his political adversaries.
Such lack of grace by the winner is not indicative of someone with small hands but surely is indicative of someone with a small mind. The type of brat behavior Trump has exhibited all of his life from someone who enjoys naming people as “losers”.
The election of Trump as the leader of the free world has taken our progress away from being a more civil society that respects the individuality of people while making it a part of our social responsibility and opened the floodgates to the vulgar hoards that have apparently been lurking all this time just the other side of a “kinder, gentler nation.”