Oxford Dictionary: po·lit·i·cal cor·rect·ness - /pəˈlidəkəl kəˈrek(t)nəs/ -- The avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
I couldn’t tell you how many years ago I first heard the term PC, short for political correctness. I am sure that when the expression first came into use, it was intended to be helpful, to aid us all in getting along better.
As the definition above states, we should work diligently to avoid in our actions and speech, putting down other people. We run into trouble, however, when we take our good intentions too far and end up undoing other things of value.
Last week, as reported in the Herald, Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano said the Boardwalk soundtrack would continue to feature Kate Smith’s rendition of "God Bless America" despite recent allegations of Smith’s racism. He reported “strong support for keeping the Boardwalk tradition alive, with a petition launched to bring Smith’s statue to Wildwood.” His statement drew national attention.
“Troiano acknowledged America today is very different from the America of Kate Smith’s heyday, in terms of what is deemed ‘acceptable.’ Referencing the discrimination faced by his immigrant grandparents, Mayor Troiano decried the racism and bigotry experienced by countless people. According to the mayor, while some negative remarks have been made, support to keep the tradition alive has been ‘overwhelming.’”
The topic of Kate Smith’s removal was so hot on the Herald website that we took the unusual step of adding a seventh category of issues to the online Spout Off site.
Further, regarding the Kate Smith issue, Pastor Rudy Sheptock’s May 1 weekly Herald column offered what I found to be extremely well-articulated insights into the plague of political correctness. He stated, “Political correctness is sucking the very lifeblood out of humanity. People are ignoring the foundational intangibles while they make big issues out of nonsense. Take for instance the whole Kate Smith controversy. Here is a woman who in her day did more for her country than the average individual and made the song ‘God Bless America’ a national institution.
“For years, her rendition of this Irving Berlin classic was a staple at Flyers and Yankees games. But along comes someone who claims that they were offended by a song she did in a Broadway show back in the 1930s, and we are quick to cover her statue with a blanket. We shouldn’t and can’t condone everything done in our nation’s past, but we can’t erase it either. It was a different day.
“We won’t continue to move forward in our race relationships if we resort to such backward thinking. I see too much hypocrisy in the whole politically correct movement. Reconciliation will never happen if we cover up what needs to be addressed and learned from. But is our present culture open to such honest dialogue? Those who cry out and demand tolerance can be the most intolerant of them all.
“I feel like I’m back in junior high, when peer pressure controlled the cafeteria. If you want to fit in, then you have to conform to what those in the majority have deemed cool to be. If there is another truth that I have learned along the way it is that ‘crowds’ make lousy ‘leaders.’ In the Bible, it was a crowd that voted not to get on the Ark, and the crowd drowned.
“In the Bible, it was a crowd that voted not to take the Promised Land that God was giving to His people, and the crowd died in the desert. In the Bible, it was a crowd that chose Barabbas over Jesus, and how did that turn out?
“I hate the phrase, 'everybody’s doing it.' Maybe it is time to take a stand for what is true and with love, grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, live it out. Have the courage to say what you believe and not just bark out the party lines. I will never fit into a world that writes a script for me and expects me to read it line for line.”
Is PC finally running its course? When people like the mayor and the pastor start to publically generate cracks in the PC wall, it is a very positive sign.