We have all heard of political correctness, which requires euphemistic language when talking about women, minorities, or people with disabilities. While I can understand why people believe in political correctness and I believe it is sometimes justified, I tend to have a problem with it. It’s just that, often, I’d rather deal with real issues than dance around things with politically correct language. Maybe it’s better to offend if we’re being honest, although I’m sure someone could debunk me on that.
However, today I am not going to focus on this issue. Rather, I wanted to piggy-back on a subject Carl began: the character of America. Specifically, I will talk about patriotic correctness.
This, in a nutshell, is political correctness that is used in the defense of our nation. Instead of prohibiting offensive language about (for instance) handicapped people or women, it prohibits talk that questions the preeminence of America. It forces us to talk euphemistically when talking about our nation’s faults or mistakes. There are numerous examples:
• President Bush, apparently learning the lessons of the Vietnam War, during which time the TV and print media showed the horrors of war firsthand, prohibited showing caskets of dead soldiers on TV. Likewise, most news networks, even those with a “liberal” reputation, tend not to show horrific images of war at all. In other words, they’re keeping us from seeing the blood and carnage, which (the cynic would say) is a big factor in keeping us on board with the war effort.
• When talking about civilian casualties during war, we use terms like “collateral damage” rather than “murdered civilians.”
• The term “terrorist” is loaded with political implications. If Islamic radicals kill innocent Americans or Israelis, that’s terrorism. But if America carpet-bombs civilians in a German city or Israel flattens an entire neighborhood because some suspected terrorists live there, that’s “just what happens during war.”
• You don’t question the traditional view of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; if you do, you’re an unpatriotic traitor. If you present evidence that we knew Japan wanted to talk about terms of surrender (here and here, for example), you are considered intelligent and persistent, but still a traitor.
• It’s best not to talk too much about bad things America has done, but if you must, be sure to refer to them only as “mistakes,” and not as evil actions that could call the country’s good character into question. Bill O’Reilly summed this attitude up best when, angry at a liberal caller on The Factor, he asked, “So, are you saying that America is flawed?” He said this as if saying “America is flawed” were akin to saying “the earth is flat”.
• During wartime, a certain amount of dissent is allowed, but only that which is given for the purpose of helping America win the war. Under no circumstances do you question America’s right to win; in other words, America is always on the right side, and if you question that, it’s because you’re on the enemy’s side.
• You cannot question whether America’s enemies have any legitimacy whatsoever. They are always wrong, and so is every person (think Jane Fonda) who is willing to talk to them.
• JFK was killed by a single deranged madman, and those who question it are probably just conspiracy nuts (despite the House Select Committee on Assassinations’ hearings on the subject). Conspiracy-type assassinations, according to patriotic correctness, only happen in other countries.
Although one might detect a hint of sarcasm in this post, I am deadly serious about this. All of us who worship Christ must stand up and protest this. Patriotic correctness is dangerous, and we must get beyond it if we are going to make a difference here. We need to admit that our nation is just as flawed as every other.