Wednesday, January 02, 2008

PC: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

Political Correctness is Killing Britain and America

Like so many things that come from the emotional, feel good crowd on the left side of the political spectrum Political Correctness is a movement that takes a certain reasonableness and then goes too far. In the end it makes the truth a lie and denial a virtue.

The late George MacDonald Fraser lamented what had happened to Britain during his lifetime. Fraser gained fame as a novelist and a screen writer, most notably for his Flashman series of historical novels. The Flashman character was a coward and bully originally created by Thomas Hughes in Tom Brown's School Days. Harry Flashman was the poster boy for political incorrectness. And the Brits loved him.

In an article published on London's Daily Mail website Fraser recounts:

When 30 years ago I resurrected Flashman, the bully in Thomas Hughes's Victorian novel Tom Brown's Schooldays, political correctness hadn't been heard of, and no exception was taken to my adopted hero's character, behaviour, attitude to women and subject races (indeed, any races, including his own) and general awfulness.

On the contrary, it soon became evident that these were his main attractions. He was politically incorrect with a vengeance.

Through the Seventies and Eighties I led him on his disgraceful way, toadying, lying, cheating, running away, treating women as chattels, abusing inferiors of all colours, with only one redeeming virtue - the unsparing honesty with which he admitted to his faults, and even gloried in them.

And no one minded, or if they did, they didn't tell me. In all the many thousands of readers' letters I received, not one objected.

In the Nineties, a change began to take place. Reviewers and interviewers started describing Flashman (and me) as politically incorrect, which we are, though by no means in the same way.

This is fine by me. Flashman is my bread and butter, and if he wasn't an elitist, racist, sexist swine, I'd be selling bootlaces at street corners instead of being a successful popular writer.

But what I notice with amusement is that many commentators now draw attention to Flashy's (and my) political incorrectness in order to make a point of distancing themselves from it.

In America everyone here uses the Seinfeld defense when talking about that which is not politically correct "Not that there's anything wrong with that". (We all laugh that little uncomfortable laugh because, of course, this disclaimer is the evidence that something is wrong with it).

I urge you to read this article because Frasier says it better than I ever could. While his focus is mostly on what has happened to Britain, it applies to this country as well.

Funny thing is most people are sensitive to the reasonableness of treading lightly on others who may be different from us. Knee jerk and brutish name calling and cultural stereotyping serves no useful purpose, but almost everyone believes political correctness has passed the point of ridiculousness. Unfortunately once you have groups in positions of power racked with their own insecurities and a contempt for what the public thinks, pushing an agenda to alter peoples' thoughts, you have a monster on your hands.