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Social justice, political correctness, human decency, bigotry, and total jerks

Scenes from the Detroit Pride Parade

This past week there was a bewildering little discussion on Bill Maher’s Real Time where—yet, again—Maher railed mightily at the horrors of political correctness and social justice warriors, while columnist Charles M. Blow sat bewildered at what his problem was. [Transcript below from Breitbart, available on its website.]

Friday on HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher lamented so-called social justice warriors, who he argued were not motivated by actual social change, but out of a need to increase an audience on social media.

“Here’s what’s wrong with social justice warriors: They’re not interested in justice. They’re interested in clicks,” he said. “They’re interested in getting clicks. Oh please, you don’t think so?”

Maher’s remarks were met with pushback from New York Times columnist Charles Blow, who said there were “social justice warriors” with genuine interests in improving society.

Maher insisted he was speaking about a totally separate thing, and he and his guest author Bret Easton Ellis pointed to the way some reacted to criticism of blockbuster movie “Black Panther.”

For his part Blow was clearly confused as he happens to know people who are seriously interested in implementing positive social change, who aren’t just making noise and being obnoxious or opportunist for its own sake but really are trying to address real social inequities by raising their voices, and sometimes putting their own bodies on the line, to implement that change.

That’s a significantly different view from Maher who as an absolute free-speechist believes anyone should be able to say just about any ridiculous obnoxious thing you want without facing the backlash of those people responding by telling you you’re a total fracking jerk.

Here’s another example of Maher’s attitude from his “New Rules” segment from that same show where he basically dumps on Generation Z for being fragile little snowflakes who don’t know how to take any responsibility for themselves or deal with any bad news or direct criticism. Hilarious, kinda.

Now of course, Maher is trying to be funny here, but as usual he’s also trying to make what he thinks is a substantive point. According to him: the kids are not alright. They whine too much, they get what they want too easily, their helicopter parents pamper them too much and have become bulldozer parents who pave the way for them so that they never actually face any adversity, or difficulty, or challenges.

I can’t say I know who those kids are, I’m not sure I’ve ever met any of them—but whoever they are they’ve certainly got Maher worked up and frustrated. I’m going to assume somebody, somewhere fits this description—but I can’t personally confirm it. Maher also went on CNN with Chris Cuomo and took this point another step forward arguing that “political correctness has become a cancer on progressivism” and that this is why Trump is “winning.” 

He also says

Maher: I think when you -- when you talk to Trump supporters, they’re not blind to his myriad flaws.  But one thing they always say is he’s not politically correct.  I don’t think you can under -- overestimate how much people have been choking on political correctness and hate it.

There were two studies about this recently, it was in "The New York Times", front page story a few months ago. It was also in "The Atlantic" about a year ago. The vast majority of liberals in this country hate it. They think political correctness has gone way too far.

No one likes to be living on eggshells.

Of course no one like to be living on eggshells, but then again no one likes to be living with a noose hanging over their head either.

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen -- On political correctness
The Political Correctness backlash

The Atlantic study Maher references is here: 

If you look at what Americans have to say on issues such as immigration, the extent of white privilege, and the prevalence of sexual harassment, the authors argue, seven distinct clusters emerge: progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, the politically disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives, and devoted conservatives.

According to the report, 25 percent of Americans are traditional or devoted conservatives, and their views are far outside the American mainstream. Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don’t belong to either extreme constitute an “exhausted majority.” Their members “share a sense of fatigue with our polarized national conversation, a willingness to be flexible in their political viewpoints, and a lack of voice in the national conversation.”

Most members of the “exhausted majority,” and then some, dislike political correctness. Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.

Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87 percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness. As one 40-year-old American Indian in Oklahoma said in his focus group, according to the report:

It seems like everyday you wake up something has changed … Do you say Jew? Or Jewish? Is it a black guy? African-American? … You are on your toes because you never know what to say. So political correctness in that sense is scary.

So the premise here is that most people are tired of being told what they can and can’t say and who they can say it to. Maher seems to feel that this constitutes a large portion of Trump fans who simply feel like they’ve been bludgeoned into a corner over the last couple decades into forced silence on essentially any subject.  They’ve grown viscerally angry at being told they’re “out of touch,” are too insensitive, too loud, too brash, too racist, too sexist, too homophobic, too transphobic, and too hateful. Consequently, they’re exhausted, and they’re annoyed with being wrongfully accused and wrongfully attacked. Who could argue with that?

Maher seems to feel that these are the people who aren’t shocked and disturbed by Trump’s every ridiculous utterance. They think he talks and thinks like they wish they could openly speak. He says the things that they’re thinking loudly, but feel too bullied by the PC crowd to speak. They don’t actually care what he says that much, but if he’s saying something annoying—particularly if it annoys “the Libs”—they’re fine with it. They love it.

And all that may be because it appears that most white people these days think they're the ones being mostly discriminated against.  Well, that's mostly what conservative white people believe.

The victimization of white America put forth by conservatives and right-wing media has taken hold, according to the results in a new poll from Hill-HarrisX. A whopping 75 percent of registered Republican voters said that white Americans face discrimination.

A majority of Independents, 55 percent, sided with Republicans and said white Americans are discriminated against. Meanwhile, only 38 percent Democrats agreed, and sixty-two percent of Democrats said that white Americans face little or no discrimination at all. [...]

Interestingly, only 19 percent of white respondents said they personally faced racial discrimination, proving the point that the fear tactics of Fox News and other conservative media who sell the myth of “reverse racism” are working.

The actual hate crimes stats don't match any of this but yes, the reverse racism gambit is working and Maher isn't the only one to fall for it.

In 2017, law enforcement agencies reported that 4,832 single-bias hate crime offenses were motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry. Of these offenses:

[...]

Hate crimes motivated by religious bias accounted for 1,679 offenses reported by law enforcement. A breakdown of the bias motivation of religious-biased offenses showed:

In 2017, law enforcement agencies reported 1,303 hate crime offenses based on sexual-orientation bias. Of these offenses:

Of the single-bias incidents, 131 offenses were a result of gender-identity bias. Of these offenses:

Is there bias against white male cisgendered Christians? Yeah, but is it anywhere near the majority of bias in America. Heck, nope.

Recently former Fox News Host and current Don Jr. playtoy Kimberly Guilfoyle spoke to a room full of young conservative women about what’s wrong with the “crazy liberals,” telling them to be “fearless” and reject the liberal "victim mentality” even though they are just being treated so, so badly. [Transcript below taken from article by Breitbart, available on its website.]

“Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats still are trying to decide if they’re the party of big city liberals or of big government socialists,” Guilfoyle said. “Mueller is riding off into the sunset, along with his bogus witch hunt investigation.” [...]

“If you’re a leftist Democrat, or someone profiting from the swamp in D.C., then you are forced in taking the opposite position as the president, no matter what or how unreasonable,” Guilfoyle joked as she described the new “disease.”

“When you are wishing for a recession or for the stock market to take a dive, or even worse, for more criminal illegals, drug and human traffickers to enter this country, I wonder whose side you might be on,” Guilfoyle said in regards to those hoping for the president to fail. [...]

Guilfoyle also listed numerous women who are working alongside President Trump, including first lady Melania Trump, Lara Trump, Sarah Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Gina Haspel, and Ivanka Trump.

Guilfoyle claimed the women she listed, and those listening in the room, are so successful because they reject the “leftist victim mentality.”

“We are strong, we are smart, we are beautiful inside and out, and we love this country and we love our president,” Guilfoyle told the audience. “We can and will make history on our own and we don’t need some government handout or help from swampy politicians in D.C.”

Migrant children who are trying to escape the impact of climate change and also government corruption and violent murderous gangs are “criminal illegals, drug and human traffickers” who apparently deserved to be locked into a former Japanese internment camp because they don't have the right paperwork when they crossed an invisible line in the desert.

People who think it’s a national outrage that Trump (and also Kushner) apparently still think it’s just fine to allow foreign nations to try and manipulate our elections by illegally accepting opposition research for those nations without reporting it to the FBI—apparently have a “victim mentality.”

People who support the #MeToo movement, and feel that women shouldn’t have to put up with sexual harassment, that Trans and LGBTQ+ deserve a right to serve our nation proudly, and to be treated fairly, to not be harrassed or excluded due to so-called “religious” reasons only feel that way because they have “Trump derangement disease.” But never mind them, what about all the white victims of cruel political correctness? Oh, how they suffer in (not all all) total silence with their fearlessness.

We should all just be happy there are jobs out there. We shouldn't stop and question the nature of those jobs. We shouldn’t consider how marginalized people are being treated on these jobs, what the impact of the environment and climate change is from these jobs, we should stand up and complain when we see injustice, we shouldn’t stop and complain and say “Hey, that’s some fucking bullshit.”

I get what Maher is saying, he wants the license to be a bit of a jerk. He's gonna talk smack about some people, that’s his thing, he feels it’s his right. It’s funny to us when it’s Trump, it’s less funny when it's us—or it’s our kids. He figures it’s fine because he takes pot shots at just about everyone. From a free speech point of view, that’s fine—at least in theory.

However, there are times when someone isn’t making a valid—but harsh—point. Maher is right that most people don’t like being told what they can say, or how they can’t say it. They don’t like being tone policed. But Maher doesn’t consider why that happens. He’s friends with Ann Coulter and when he's not trying to get up her frighteningly narrow skirt, he’s fine with her pushing people’s buttons (even though she's a horrible fucking bigot) he feels she’s a fellow "comedian” too. She’s not, seriously. It happens because some people like Coulter and Alex Jones are abusing their free speech privileges and falling into full-on abuse, harassment and hate speech.

And they make a lot of money from that hate speech.

Just before Jared Kushner fell into his “homina homina homina" act when he was asked about whether birtherism was racism, he was right in the middle of spiking the ball because he thought he done a great end-zone run with this canned response to a question about racism by Trump.

[Jonathan] Swan [of Axios]: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she calls, she has called President Trump a racist. Have you ever seen him say or do anything that you would describe as racist or bigoted?

Kushner: So the answer is no. Absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years and then run for president and be a racist. What I’ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country. [Emphasis added]

What I want to know is who exactly are these people suffering from “real racism” if it doesn’t happen to include the people of Charlottesville when there were armed neo-Nazis marching down their street chanting “Jew Will Not Replace Us,” and the so-called POTUS says that there are “very fine people on both sides?”

I understand Trump technically condemned the Neo-Nazis (eventually and reluctantly on his second try) but I've asked it before and I’ll ask it again who exactly the fuck were the "very fine people" who think it’s just fine to keep monuments to people who fought to preserve slavery on state public grounds where they stand as tools of southern white supremacist intimidation for the last century?

Many historians, in fact, have spent their careers demonstrating that Confederate commemoration tells us precious little about the Civil War and the men who fought it.

Rather, the statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the rest tell us a great deal about how a cultural industry worked in tandem with a political movement to legitimate white supremacy. Installing Confederate monuments coincided with the rise of Jim Crow, a legal, political, and cultural system that denied African Americans their place in the American polity.

I get that there are a lot of people who are damn sick and tired of being called racist, sexist, and bigoted—but the fact is that some of them really are racist, sexist, and bigoted even if they don’t think they are and will never admit to it, and that some of the “very fine people” that Trump was imagining would seem to be completely willing to stand in direct solidarity with racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, and bigoted people while claiming they aren’t really in allegiance with the bigots and while somehow claiming to really be the "ally" of marginalized people. The “I'm the least racist person you’ve ever met.”

The fact is they just simply aren't what they claim. Not when they don't act like an ally, not when they don't stand up and they don’t SAY ANYTHING for those at risk and marginalized at the exact time that it matters. Or they don't say anything until the second try, or the third try, then the ruin it by claiming the neo-Nazi-adjacent aren't neo-Nazi adjacent, and that citizens trying to protect themselves from neo-Nazis are the "alt left who came charging" at them.

Here’s a view from the opposite side of Maher in an admittedly rambling 20 minute rant on this point from my new favorite YouTube content creator, Steve Shives, who addresses the point of tone policing as well as what happens when people who claim to be the allies of the marginalized and the “really” victimized among us totally and completely fail to do the right thing for those people.  Like when they are literally being harassed, or when yet more neo-Nazis show up at a pride parade in order to create “Charlottesville 2” and for some reason the Detroit police were only there to protect the Nazis.

Steve makes some amazing points as he works through his thoughts on the fact that some of his fellow YouTube content creators are quite clearly using the “not politically correct” justification to directly attack, harass, and demonize LGBTQ+ people, building an audience of others who also use the “we’re tired of political correctness” as their starting points to say ridiculously bigoted fucking bullshit about people. Then they monetize that platform of hate for their own profit and the profit of YouTube and are still officially allowed to stay on the platform despite the danger and the damage that they are doing, both to their psyche of their audience and their targets.

It’s frankly sobering to see how this first amendment absolutism is actually growing out of hand, making direct and vicious abuse part of a marketing plan for people to profit from as an online content creator. But people like our own David Neiwert had his Twitter account suspended because he dared to display the cover of his latest book on the spread of white supremacy.

Steve argues that if you can't call out and stand up against bigotry and racism, then you are standing with bigotry and racism. If that’s the case then you are allies and endorsers for the "real racists.” There may be a distinction between “real" neo-Nazis, as opposed to neo-Nazi apologists, excusers and deniers, but there isn’t that much of a difference between them and the results of their action in the long run.

Nobody likes a scold, but this isn't really about being “politically" correct, it’s about being morally correct. It’s not about a semi-funny comedian being able to occasionally “work blue” and tell some off-color cutting jokes every once in a while to let their inner “Lenny Bruce” out for a stroll. It’s not about guys who think it’s cool to be total jerk to someone for shits and giggles. It’s about having some actual humane moral values, and understanding it's your moral imperative duty to openly state and act on those values when. it. matters.

Yes, tone policing and virtue signaling can get annoying.  Yes, conservative bomb-throwers like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos sometimes take a rash of shit when—for some reason—they insist on trying to make public appearances on college campuses and insist the have a “right” to speak when in fact they only have a right not to have the government wrongfully try to shut them up.

Yes, it can be infuriating to be wrongly accused of bigotry, sexism, and homophobia so I think people should at least do some due diligence before they make any such accusation against someone. However, it's not any less infuriating to be treated in a biased way because of a racial/social stereotype. It's not less infuriating to be called a “rapist” when you happen to be Mexican, or an “illegal criminal” when you’re from El Salvador, or a “terrorist” who should be banned from the country when you happen to be Muslim, or a “gang banger” when you happen to be black, or a “pedophile deviant” when you happen to be LGBTQ.

If you don’t like being associated with racism and bigotry, maybe you shouldn’t stand there dumbfounded and talk about "jobs jobs jobs" when people do and say racist bigoted shit right in front of you. And maybe you shouldn’t vote for those fuckers and then pretend you have nothing to do with the racist policies they implement. You do, you exactly do.

People of privilege are quick to complain when they think they’re being unfairly treated and assumed to be someone or something they claim that they aren’t—and that's understandable. Unfortunately, it's still a valid point to note that being treated unfairly and assumed to be something that you likely are not remains to be the norm for many of the marginalized, and they, as well as their legitimate allies, have damn good reasons to complain about it, and to advocate against it.

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