In a polarizing time in American history, there has been immense focus on political correctness. Many political pundits have argued that the frustration created by the left’s hyper-focus on the importance of words when discussing race and gender led to the anger that elected Trump. While this may be true, it does not mean political correctness is any less important.
When children are little, they often make up names for everything. However, as they age, they are taught what things are truly called, and they start using correct names. For example, if a small boy called all dogs Sammy because his own dog was named Sammy, he would be corrected. No one would think this was an attempt to brainwash anyone with fancy new words or liberal propaganda. Political correctness is no different. Transgender women are not trannies or shemales — these terms are literally incorrect and also offensive. Correcting people who use terms such as these is simply reflective of the fact that humanity is more educated now than ever before. In a society where children are taught to aspire to knowledge and higher education, this correction should be looked upon positively, not with disgust.
One of the main targets of the anti-PC argument is college campuses. While many on the right see colleges’ focus on political correctness as liberal propaganda, for the most part this trend is just a result of learning more. Just as a doctor learns to call what is often labeled the funny bone the ulnar nerve, people learn that the veil often worn by Muslim women is a hijab, not a funny scarf. As a nation that prides itself on its world-renowned colleges, this transition should be a sign of success, not a threat to anyone. After all, no one would get mad at an economics student for using terms that the average person may not be aware of. Adults on both ends of the political spectrum love seeing young people go to college, so looking down upon people for using what they learn must stop if higher education is going to maintain its value.
In President Donald Trump’s America, conversations about specific terminology are more important than ever. At the same time, it is worth noting that demonizing people who use outdated and offensive terms is unhelpful. These conversations must be respectful, otherwise people who may be more educated are simply being arrogant. Nevertheless, young people must continue the commitment to political correctness going forward. If not, then there is no point in aspiring for a higher education and intellectual advancement in general.
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A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 21 print edition. Email Andrew Heying at [email protected]