Op-ed: Bigotry isn’t controversial, it’s bigotry
Donald Trump is absolutely correct. There, I said it. His claims throughout the campaign trail and now in the days before his inauguration that political correctness has become a plague to public discourse could not be more true. But as I am supposed to be the voice of the progressives and since I intend to be that voice, and with any luck get insulted by Donald Trump after midnight on Twitter, I suppose I should elaborate on what I mean.
For many Trump conservatives, the problem with political correctness and the appeal of Trump’s campaign was centered around a central theme: the ability or lack thereof to “tell it like it is.” The problem however comes not from trigger warnings and the failure to use sound bites like “Radical Islamic Terrorism,” as Trump supporters would fear, but rather that political correctness is used to water down criticisms of the president-elect’s actions. Let’s take a closer look at this problem using examples from recent headlines.
Views are no longer racist, xenophobic, or misogynistic, but rather labeled as controversial, such as the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior White House counsel, a man with a record of anti-Semitic and white nationalist views and comments. And God forbid that a member of the dishonest liberal media labels this man as a racist or an anti-Semite, because that would just be another classic case of political correctness gone wrong. It would be confirmation to members of the conservative community of a politically correct culture that bars good men from working in the presidential administration, because of a quote taken out of context or an overreaction.
But the problem is that words do, in fact, matter, something that Trump supporters seem to have forgotten. Take, for example, the now infamous tape of Donald Trump on the “Entertainment Tonight” bus, in which the now president-elect was recorded saying that he would “grab women by the pussy” regardless of their consent. But somehow the fact that it was the textbook definition of sexual assault did not seem to matter, and 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, happy to accept his explanation of this conversation as “locker room talk.”
A little less than the majority of American voters decided that sexual assault could be negated with the euphemism “locker room talk,” a politically correct term in its own right. But, and this is to the conservatives who haven’t stopped reading by this point, if I came up to you and said I was going to grab your genitals, your sister’s or your wife’s genitals, and that I didn’t care if they consented to it, would you reward me with a seat in the Oval Office?
This is one of the few times you will read this from me, but we should take a page out of Paul Ryan’s book. Back in June coming off the heels of Donald Trump’s assertion that an Indiana judge of Mexican descent would be unable to provide a fair and correct ruling in a Trump University lawsuit, Paul Ryan referred to the comments as the “textbook definition of racism.” Of course, the issue was washed away in scandals to come and Speaker Ryan never brought up the issue again, but this issue remains an important one. Donald Trump is our president, but the president is not, as a public citizen, free of judgment. That is what the First Amendment is for.
As Trump begins his administration in the coming days, we must as a country hold him to a higher standard, because he now holds the highest office in the nation. It is not simply enough to complain when President-elect Trump tweets about sex tapes and Hollywood award shows.
We as citizens, not Democrats or progressives, must define this temperament as unfit for the leader of the free world. It is not enough to just call Trump stubborn for ignoring multiple intelligence reports that show Russian interference with U.S. elections, reports that have been accepted as valid by party leaders on both sides. In the midst of Trump pundits telling us liberal snowflakes to get over it, I find it hard to believe that they would try to suppress criticism of the presidency when I’m still waiting for Obama to present his Kenyan birth certificate and declare martial law.
So in the coming months, I would encourage all of you to ask yourselves when you study the presidency or when you read the next headline: is this controversial, or would labeling it controversial just be more “leftist PC crap?”
Anthony Kuykendall is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and is the chief of staff for the AU College Democrats.