A PBS/NPR/Marist poll recently found that a good many Americans, while not opposed to civility, believe that “political correctness” is being overdone and pundits believe the Democrats need to be careful about alienating too many people. So, given that p.c. remains undefined, let’s look at it more closely if briefly in this entry:
An evangelical Christian writing on the decline of such in America reported on a phone conversation he had with a friend high up in the evangelical ministry. Three time, he wrote, the man said, “It’s just common sense that……” and went on to say something only evangelicals say to each other. It is a closed group. Among themselves, they heartily agree with each other and marginalize the other 99% of the human population who doesn’t see it their way.
And then it is a sliding scale: what is “common sense” to everyone else, like Blacks just don’t have the wherewithal to achieve that Whites do, is outright racism to others. Take a less inflammatory sentiment: “Americans are overtaxed, the highest rate in the world and higher than it has ever been.” Just try to tell some people that none of that is true and you get accused of p.c. “Oh, you’re just touting the Liberal line,” as if there is no objectivity to it all, like math and accounting. Any contrary facts, like a 90% rate under Eisenhower, is dismissed in one way or the other (“I don’t know about that,” “That was a long time ago,” “Eisenhower was a Communist,…. they say.”
So there is no penetrating the firmly held “common sense.” Recently my grandson told me a pal of his said that Blacks were better off here as slaves than in Africa, an old canard used by slave holders to justify their brutality. If you counter that with facts, they ask where you get your facts from (I am so tempted to say, “Right off Fox News”). When you say that you have to read about slavery and about Africa to know, they demand to know who wrote the books. And there you get into scholarship, peer review, historiography…. all things they know nothing about nor care about. I showed my Trumpster neighbor a list of speakers invited to ASU and pointed out the number that were conservatives, all in response to his charge that most university professors are Communists. Not much of a dent. Why not? Because The Heritage Foundation, The Club for Growth, American Enterprise Institute…. none of these mean anything to him. The only thing that might pique his curiosity is if I named a big Trump supporter who had written a book on Africa saying these same things.
So I go back to George Lakoff’s concept of framing. You have to find this guy’s frame and move within it to move him. (What I am doing with him is just asking him some questions like, “Where do you think the FBI agents/American troops/State Department employees/Justice Department officers/ recognized scholars, etc. who want to undermine America come from? Why would they want to undermine America?” This gives him a chance to express himself and me a chance to form a picture of his world view. To me it is not enough to reveal his lack of education; there are too many high school drop outs who do not think the way he does and the polling that shows less educated Americans tend to support Trump does not credit the many who do not.