In many ways, society in Britain in the early 21st century would seem to be a more enlightened one, certainly from the dark days of the 1970s. Those of us who can remember things like the Black and White Minstrel show, rampant sexism, casual homophobia and the casual racism of some comedians like Bernard Manning, and many other accepted intolerances, may well cringe at how unenlightened society was back then. It perhaps wasn’t all that bad, but it certainly wasn’t that good either. It was, as some clever people might say, unreconstructed prejudice, that is, prejudice coming from general ignorance and not so much a vicious maliciousness. Some may disagree, and by the end of the 70s fascism was beginning to rear its ugly head in Britain again, in a more extreme and more vocal and violent way. So, too, did the anti fascists. Most decent people accept that whatever they believe, one of the primary goals of living in a peaceful society, is to live peacefully in that society and to respect other people, and respect their right to live peacefully as you also want to live in peace. All good so far.
But, as is the way with human beings and human systems, it never quite works out the way people hope it will. At this time, early 2016, political correctness and the virulent faith in equality, diversity and even multiculturalism are still in full swing, although there are pockets of rebellion and some instances of healthy honesty and truth breaking out here and there. But, by and large, it is still very trendy to very quickly point fingers at anyone who may say anything at all not acceptable to the PC thought police. The one problem is, no one knows exactly what is acceptable or not acceptable anymore. War is Peace, indeed. So, everyone is scared of saying anything at all controversial. Problem is, no one knows what is controversial or not controversial anymore. So no one says anything unless it has been approved. But, approved by whom?
I equate political correctness with movements like Puritanism, where a kind of faith has very strong political overtones, with different strands, different people, different groups and varying degrees of virulence and fanaticism. At worst, I would also equate it with the Spanish Inquisition. Yes, seriously, the 21st century versions of those two politico/religious movements. And although there are many differences, the real point I am making is that political correctness (hereafter abbreviated to PC) is coming from a supposed unassailable position, the same as those two historic movements, and that those who espouse the PC position or claim to be PC are automatically in the right, so no one better contradict them, or argue with them, often on any point, or say anything which they just don’t like. PC tends to have an anti racist, anti sexist and anti homophobic agenda in the main, that people who are not white and women and those who are gay and lesbian should be protected and have their rights enshrined in law. Now, please let’s get one thing clear: the protection for people against racism, sexism and homophobia is a good thing, indeed the protection of everyone’s rights and genuine equality for all, or could I say equal opportunities and equal fair treatment for all, sounds to me a very good thing indeed. But, is this what even the most PC person really wants? Do they actually want equal rights for all, or do they want equal rights for some, or do they actually want special rights for some?
Where does Christianity fit into all this? Well, some might think, and erroneously, that PC is the same as Christianity, in that equality in all things is synonymous with a loving Creator. I do believe that God sees us all as equal before Him, and that unjust political and economic systems based on race discrimination, class discrimination, sex discrimination, religious discrimination, gay discrimination and many other things that divide humans up unfairly, and allow some people to prosper unfairly at the expense of others are abhorrent to God, but that the world is so riven with injustice and deep unfairness, that God, rather than change everything, has to work in and through the chaos and division that most human societies create, and work through the chaotic and disordered lives most people lead, at some time or other, including many Christians! PC has an air of respectability attached to it where people proclaim their non racist, non sexist and anti homophobic ‘credentials’ so to speak (rarely, if ever their hatred of class discrimination, curiously enough) but the reality inside may be something completely different. Anyone can claim anything about themselves after all, but who really knows anyone merely by what they say they are? A PC person proclaims they are perfect and that everyone should submit to them, and then can condemn others who are not going around proclaiming non racist attitudes and so on. Christianity is very different. A true Christian knows that deep down, and without God’s grace and mercy, they are sinful and without true redemption. I cannot be good on my own, no matter how much I tell other people I am good and kind and so on, because I NEED Jesus to forgive me, heal me, purify me from sinful thoughts and negative and even self destructive attitudes of all kinds, which can lead to negative behaviour if not checked, or I just internalise the negativity and beat myself up. PC, then, is like putting the cart before the horse, and without actually looking at yourself first and working on your own faults with the help of a merciful God, you are saying you are already, perhaps egotistically and self righteously, good enough to point fingers at others and condemn them, sometimes and often for very spurious reasons, and ironically enough in a very prejudiced and intolerant manner, the very thing the PC movement claims to be against. In this way, PC and Christianity are in actual fact almost polar opposites in practise. God does not want us to perfect ourselves by condemning others, that is in fact what the Pharisees did and were condemned by Jesus for, because we cannot perfect ourselves without God, and when we try, as some of the PC faithful do, we tend to end up pointing fingers at others in frustration at our own faults, and simply because we are very good at pointing fingers at and judging others but almost pathologically and certainly naturally loathe to examine our own many and myriad faults. That then is the first fault of PC. It is not Christianity and comes nowhere close. It is false respectability, and intolerant of others views, and certainly not Christianity in lived experience.
I can also pick fault with the way PC has also deteriorated and how in effect, rather than in the theory of the PC faithful being believers of equality, it merely promotes prejudice against the white working class, as if this is in some way a payback for the depredations and injustices of Western imperialism, the British and Spanish empires and many others, and the continuing economic domination of the world by America, Britain and Western Europe. My biggest problem with that approach is ultimately saying that the same actions, though largely on a social scale, towards another group is an acceptable substitute for the economic poverty of black people, working class women, poor Asian Muslims and immigrants who have come here for various reasons. White working class prejudices and negative behaviours are discussed in minute detail and often with a fine tooth comb whereas the prejudices of the Middle class and the affluent are virtually completely ignored or sidelined and prejudices and misconceptions against the white working class have become acceptable, whereas racism is regularly castigated. So, one small minded prejudice takes the place of another. Why can’t all prejudices be equally challenged? And why isn’t the real issue, the economic divisions, being discussed? Too close to uncomfortable reality? I do wonder. Far safer to further victimise those already victims of the system, it seems.
For me, I have to be honest in this situation, and I don’t point my fingers at affluent people or middle class people in return, my point here is that PC and its whole credo, whoever proclaims it, and there are working class groups and middle class groups who are PC in nature and I have experienced both typically middle class and working class people who were virulently PC and found I didn’t like them very much, has deteriorated into the worst kind of intellectual fascism, whoever espouses it and wherever it comes from, whether from working class people or middle class people, white or black or other, left or right politics, and it closes any form of real debate, free speech and so an essential part of what a democracy is. Also, is it just me, or has anyone noticed that some PC pronouncements are getting more and more absurd, and divorced more and more from any common sense or reality? Or that those claiming to be tolerant liberals can sometimes be the most intolerant and illiberal if anyone disagrees with them in any way?