Saturday, December 19, 2015

Political Correctness Running Amuck

The one thing I think I've noticed most about this holiday season are the number of articles I've read or that have been sent to me detailing how this or that celebration has been cancelled or that some school has been closed because of a school program or academic exercise. For instance, I recently read about a group of ninth grade students who were studying geography. As part of their assignment, the teacher required the students to know the country, the capital, some basic facts about the country and a phrase. Sounds harmless enough right? Well, apparently not. When they got to Saudi Arabia, the students were required to cite the Shahada, which is considered the core principal of Islam (the phrase states that there is no god but Allah and his prophet is Mohammed). Not surprisingly, once the parents became aware of this, all hell broke loose to the point where the school closed early for the Christmas Holiday (or are we calling it the Winter Solstice or winter season festival holiday now?).

In several other instances, Christmas activities in public areas were either curtailed or cancelled because groups of Moslems complained to local government officials that their religious sensibilities had been "offended" by these open displays of religious devotion---specifically Christian devotion (I can only imagine their reaction to seeing public or even private displays celebrating Chanukah). There was even complaints filled by a Moslem group over Buddhist monks doing their sand painting at a local mall; again citing that their feelings had been hurt). Naturally, this got me to think---when did it become fashionable for people to wear their feelings on their sleeves? When did it become mandatory that that we cater to every veiled threat or every quivering lip?

I recently read that Europe is in serious trouble with their "refugee" situation, and I'm not even talking about the terrorists going on a murder spree in Paris or the dozens of mosques which have been shut down in France due to their connections with terrorist organizations or even the large weapons and explosive caches they've found! Nope. I'm talking about the Mayor of Munich receiving a signed petition from recent arrivals demanding a stop to Oktoberfest. Why? The usual suspects I suppose---pork products, beer, cute frauleins in dirndls, men and women (and boys and girls) enjoying some om-pa-pa music, playing games and having a good ole time...together. In public. Oh the shame of it all! In Scotland and Ireland, various city officials and/or church leaders have received "requests" to cease ringing church bells since it disturbs Moslems going about their daily business and students studying the Koran.

In London and other English towns and cities (like Manchester and York), the Moslem faithful routinely pour out into the street for their prayers despite repeated requests by police and city officials to move their prayers elsewhere since they are blocking traffic and interfering with business (New York and few other US cities are already starting to face that issue). Even when alternative locations were provided, the requests were ignored. My understanding is that other cities on the continent such as Paris, Marseilles, Hamburg, Berlin, Dusseldorf are having similar problems. In some locations, Sharia law is enforced, even on non-Moslems. Often, the police will avoid these areas for fear of attack or triggering a protest. In Scandinavia, crime has skyrocketed, especially in the case of aggravated assault and rape (in some locations, rape has doubled or tripled and in every case, it has been attributed by authorities to the new arrivals). German school girls have been asked not to wear short skirts as not to offend Moslem families. Even lounging at the beach or pools is considered "offensive" as is women wearing short or walking alone. This makes me wonder, if something like that could ever happen here.

Well, we do have students sent home because an article of clothing they're wearing may be "offensive" like a Confederate flag or historical character, a cartoon character, pro-US military, or an American flag (there have been numerous instances of individuals being told to remove their American flags. You know, something vile like that. Yet other items, such as a raised clinched fist, Pan-African colors (or similar jewelry), or individuals who promoted racial violence are seemingly ok. Even Pancho Villa, Malcolm X, or Che Guevara t-shirts are cool but not t-shirts Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, or the fictional Dukes of Hazzard's car, the "General Lee"; not to mention jewelry or clothing with certain religious symbols or sayings (like Jewish, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist. BTW, can you imagine anyone actually having an issue with Gandhi? Seriously).

While we're at it, how about banned books? It's not like we have a 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech or expression right? I bet you didn't know that Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer" and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" are on the prohibited list at most public schools did you? How about "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown, "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London, or "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell. So is "Fahrenheit 451" by Scifi legend Ray Bradbury or the classic "For Whom the Bells Toll" by Ernest Hemingway. "The "Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" and "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald are on the "naughty list" too. And we can't forget "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville, "The Red Badge of Courage" by Stephan Crane, Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", as well Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher. To be sure, there are more (and I would be remiss to not encourage you to read every last one of them, and if you don't have time, they at least watch those which were made into movies). Even the Bible is considered a no-no, but reading the Koran isn't.

Listen, like it or not, while America is a secular society, we were founded on Judeo-Christian principals as well as on the Enlightenment. It's part of who we are. If nothing else, these books help us to think critically and encourages us to examine our world. Why then would they be removed from school libraries? Could there be some small kernel of truth in these books that we don't want our children exposed to; something perhaps that would make them reexamine the world; would give them cause to ask "why" or even challenge the status quo? We've seen how there are efforts to rewrite our history' to tell it through the lens of our own bias. When I was in school, we were taught how "explorers" like Columbus and Cortez came to this New World and found only savages (and wealth) while searching for a short cut to Asia and India. We were taught how America was "settled" Pilgrims and how we tried to "civilize" these strange people we named "Indians" through enslavement, broken treaties, massacres, destruction of their food, clothing, and water sources, and so forth (or how we had a "divine obligation" to convert them", whether they wanted it or not) after they saved our behinds from starvation and freezing. But what we managed to do, however, was destroy their culture, tribes, and seized land through any means possible. The reality was that it was us who were the uncivilized ones. We're taught that the Civil War was all about the issue of slavery and that our Founding Fathers were nothing more than rich racist white guys.

The truth was that the Civil War was about far more than slavery, which really didn't become a factor until after Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation", which freed slaves only in states which had seceded, but not in slave holding or leaning border states and territories. The reason was to force Confederate troops to return home to save the crops from rotting in the fields and their families from starving. Any humanitarian reasons were secondary.
In fact, Lincoln had previously stated that he would not interfere with the issue of slavery. His intent was strictly on preserving the union. Yet, today, we're told something completely different, and in the process, we're attempting to rewrite history by removing Confederate symbols, monuments and even the names of schools and mascots. In New Orleans, the city council voted to remove all Confederate monuments. In various cemeteries, they prohibit placing the Southern Cross on the graves of Confederate soldiers. In Memphis Tennessee, the city council bowed to pressure to dig up the remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest along with his family! There's more, like the site where the massacre of Native Americans took place at Wounded Knee is for sale, perhaps even for commercial development. Sacred sites belonging to Native Americans are routinely dug up or mined (especially in the Black Hills of North Dakota). Where's the outrage?

Language too has been altered by political correctness. We're not supposed to use certain terms out fear someone might not like it. Despite all the terrorist attacks and acts of violence, Obama and members of his regime still refuse to say "Islamic" or "Moslem" when discussing them, even when the terrorists say it or it's in the name of their organization! We're not supposed to say "illegal" immigration. Nope, that implies they did something wrong like break the law. Instead, we're told to call them "undocumented" immigrants as if they left their green card or naturalization certificate in their other pants! We're suppose to refer to minorities with some hyphenated term as if there is some unique distinction or dual loyalties. Asian-Americans as if they are from Asia and have become Americans. Well, that's ok I suppose, if you were born in Asia and have become American, although if so, then your loyalty should first and foremost be to this country. African-American. Same thing (of course, for many of the black Americans, their distant ancestors may have gone from Africa to any part of the English, Spanish, Portuguese, or Dutch empires before ever ending up on these shores). Besides, Africa is a continent and isn't just home of black individuals. It's been the home of Arabs from the Middle East and Central Asia since the early 7th century; encompassing the top third of Africa. Even in South Africa, the English, Dutch, and Germans have lived there since the 1500's. Yet still, despite all this, those of European origin in this country are never referred to as "European-Americans". Personally, if you're born or naturalized here, you're an American plain and simple.

As alluded to above, clothing styles and dress are permitted for some but not for all. Why is that? Moslem women are encouraged to where traditional clothing instead of adapting. It's common to Spanish, Somalian, Chinese, Arabic, and host of other languages everyday when it used to be that immigrants wanted to look, act, and speak as Americans as quickly as they could. Instead of a melting pot, practically every community is now a mini world bazaar! Maybe that's good, however, I think English should be mandatory and all documents paid for by taxpayers should be printed only in English to encourage people to learn and speak the language to they will be able to converse with everyone else. Let's look at the entertainment media for instance. TV and radio channels exist for specific racial and ethnic groups, but not for all groups. Frankly, and quite honestly, I don't care. In fact, I think that's great, but why isn't that allowed for all? If there's a potential market, it should be explored. Commercials and TV shows mandate diversity unless that program is comprised of or aimed at a minority audience. You can have movies where black actors perform in whiteface (such as in the movie "White Chicks" or actor Nick Cannon), which is never considered racist by the media, but heaven forbid if a Asian or white performer did blackface. It's ok to have minorities comedians do white jokes or jokes about other racial groups, no matter how vulgar, but never ever can white comics do jokes about a minority (however, self-depreciating humor is permitted by white comedians).

Remember how much trouble Comic Jeff Dunham got in over "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" while nothing at all was said about "Bubba J", the NASCAR loving redneck? Gays and transgendered comics can make fun of each other or straight people but never can straight people return the favor. Why is that? I have no problem laughing at white or straight jokes, but I see no problem laughing at jokes aimed at different groups either. Humor is intended to bring down walls and to see the absurdity that we all experience in life. It makes me wonder if performers from the past like Jack Benny, George and Gracie Allen, Abbott and Costello, Billy "Bojangles" Robinson, The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, Shirley Temple, or Laurel and Hardy among numerous others could even make it today. Heck, even saying "Merry Christmas" or Happy Easter" can even get you in trouble!

Of course, we've enacted laws to balance the economic table if you will, from eliminating poll tax and giving women the right to vote, to fair housing and financial loan legislation. We've mandated hiring quotas to ensure adequate representation in employment (though that particular law, Affirmative Action, is in need of serious reform) and despite equal work/equal pay laws, there's still disparity and much needs to be done.
So what does it say when one group conduct activities what would otherwise be considered racist or even a hate crime against another group such as threats of violence, harassment, or preventing them from entering polling place or business through physical intimidation, especially when the Attorney of the United States refuses act? Is reverse discrimination ever justified? Attempts at improving education among minorities through busing has been a mixed blessing. Yes, there has been some academic improvement among minorities, however, performance among non-minority students have declined along with the overall academic performance of public schools in general, and students spend hours being shuttled from location to location. There is still the troubling issue of superior performing minority students, mostly living in predominantly black communities, being bullied or assaulted for doing well in school, which is generally referred to as "acting white" as if failing is more admirable goal. This type of mentality, which often goes hand in hand with classroom disturbance, threatening or assaulting teachers, bus drivers or school personnel, has to be stopped immediately. Teachers and bus drivers are not babysitters, nor are they prison guards or targets. If a student prefers ignorance over knowledge or violence in lieu of civility, and all attempts otherwise have failed, then obviously alternative means must be employed.

So, returning to the original question posed in this article as to whether political correctness and bowing to pressure could ever happen here or be tolerated here, the answer appears to be yes. In fact, it may be an important factor in America's social and economic decline. When college student demand "safe places" because they are emotionally or psychologically unequipped to deal with the real world, then we have a serious problem. The bad guys don't do "quiet time" and they don't care if you count or three or not.
We can protest and proclaim "black lives matter" and disrupt or destroy businesses but nobody cares when everyone shouts "all lives matter" as if violence or injustice happens to just one group. It doesn't. Sorry to burst your balloon. Every life regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnic origin or sexual preference, is of value.

What must be done is to find and eliminate the causes, and that starts will respect--which is earned, not given. It also meaning valuing others as much as yourself. It's accepting the face that the government or the world doesn't owe you squat. You are solely responsible for your actions including your failures as well as your successes. We need to lighten up too and stop taking ourselves so seriously (there was a incident at the University of Louisville where the president and some staff members donned sombreros, ponchos, fake mustaches and posed for picture at a Halloween themed staff party...and he and the university are still apologizing for it. Really). We, as Americans, have more serious issues to contend with, starting with restoring our democratic republic and that's going to take all of us working together.

Banned Books That Shaped America

'Acting White' Remains a Barrier for Black Education

One Year Later, Sill Not Sold

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