Don't confuse cultural evolution with political correctness

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 6:33 PM | comments: 0

Simon has been really into watching the classic animated Peter Pan lately, which we borrowed from the library. I can't even tell you the last time I had seen it, but I was struck by how incredibly, well, racist it was. The stuff with the Indians is all based on pretty awful racial stereotypes. By today's standards, I think it's offensive. The issues of gender roles and sexism in the movie don't offend me that much, but again, it's a relic of a different time.

As art, and a reflection of the time it was made, I can hardly fault it as having malicious intent. It is what it is. I'd like to think that we've evolved since then, though clearly not everyone feels that way. People seem to confuse this evolution, where we stop devaluing people based on certain attributes, with political correctness, and I think that's a real issue.

I suspect most white people my age had that racist old grandparent, if not several, that would go on racist tirades at family gatherings. When you get older, you struggled with the idea that they're the product of their time, but that they should be smart enough to conclude that racism is not at all cool. Starting with the baby boomers, who lived through the worst of the civil rights era, you expect more from them. Yet, we have stories that make national headlines of a bunch of college kids engaging in racist chants on a bus. It's disappointing.

What's more infuriating is the idea that these changes are just political correctness. No. We don't use the "N word" because it's foul and represents the worst kind of hate our nation has ever engaged in. We don't call women "bitches" because we've spent most of human history treating women as the inferior sex, and that has to stop. We don't say someone is "retarded" because it's cruel to demean people with mental disabilities. We don't call people "fag" or say something is "gay" because it's messed up to infer that homosexuals are lesser people.

We are evolving. That's not being PC, that's not being an asshole.


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