Political correctness is not just a social ideology. It is a tool used to approach a wide variety of conversations and take into account the audience’s perspective.
The way in which a person in a position with the power to speak addresses the audience shows his or her credibility. For example, the American public would not react favorably if the President of the United States said, “Congress needs to pass this f*cking bill. Most of these white guys can’t agree on sh*t, and quite frankly, I’m getting too old for this.” There would be outrage if anything like this were uttered out of the mouth of any leader.
If Barack Obama were to say this, the audience would immediately accuse him of inappropriate language, challenge his credibility, dispute his respect for the office and probably want to impeach him for immoral behavior. Although the president would be exercising his freedom of speech, his obliteration of political correctness could cause irreversible chaos. A careless use of language from a position of power like the presidency could even trigger a world war.
There is power in words. Politicians already have power and try to attain more power and influence through rhetoric. People need to wake up and pay attention to the power of rhetoric, especially coming from politicians.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump is known for making anti-Chinese, anti-Mexican and anti-Muslim statements, which have led many people to compare him to Adolf Hitler.
On Nov. 23, 2015, the Washington Post reported an armed anti-Muslim protest was taking place in front of a mosque in Irving, Texas. When protesters were interviewed, they claimed to be Trump supporters and agreed with Trump’s ideas on deporting and banning Muslims. Avi Selk of Dallas Morning News wrote, “It was a strange protest, held at a strange time in a suburb strangely relevant to America’s brand of anti-Islamic politics.”
Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric clearly has already triggered gun-loving, pro-confederate Americans to hold a protest with machine guns strapped to their bodies outside a mosque. In schools, Muslim American children are being jumped and bullied because of the horrible attitude Trump has propelled onto radical nationalists.
What would Abraham Lincoln say? Lincoln stated on July 31, 1846 in the “Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity,” “I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion.” These few examples of consequences are a result of rhetoric gone bad, initiated by foreign policy and domestic homeland security talk.
I’m not surprised that much of the country supports a politician who’s not afraid to be politically incorrect. Hitler was politically incorrect in his political book “Mein Kampf” and was able to convince a whole country that it was okay to kill Jewish men, women and children because they were “responsible for damaging the nation’s economy.”
Hitler claimed, “For the Jew was still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious attacks in this case as in others.”
There is not much we can do to combat politicians’ rhetorical approaches but raise awareness of the power words have to affect everything around us. Becoming politically active and aware of the issues occurring globally can give us a better perspective as an audience to examine the use of rhetoric in the political arena.
While there is nothing wrong with being convincing and eloquent, we need to be careful with how tools of expression are used and affecting us. The great outcome of politically correct rhetoric derives from our means to connect with our audience in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone. Take a look at our stand-up comedians and comical political commentators such as Louis C. K., Bill Maher and John Oliver.
As a matter of fact, on March 5, C. K. wrote in an email blast to fans, “Please stop it with voting for Trump. It was funny for a little while. But the guy is Hitler. And by that I mean that we are being Germany in the ’30s. Do you think they saw the sh*t coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.”
These comedians are straightforward with their opinions and engage with their audience in a humorous atmosphere. Nevertheless, they confront these controversial political issues by expressing themselves in a forward manner that politicians can’t. Although all individuals have freedom of speech, it is up to those of influence to choose words carefully to connect with their audience in the most convincing manner.
Obama probably can’t make the jokes C. K. can on a topic of government and leadership, because Obama’s audience is the free world. He’s not just talking to cable subscribers with the purpose to entertain.