CALL TO ACTION - The following phrase is often used by Republicans to turn the public against Progressives and to control political debate: politically correct (PC) Take control of this phrase by understanding how it works and redefining it in...
CALL TO ACTION - The following phrase is often used by Republicans to turn the public against Progressives and to control political debate:
politically correct (PC)
Take control of this phrase by understanding how it works and redefining it in Progressive terms.
KEY - Neo-Cons use "PC" to cast Progressives as a sinister "movement" leading America down the path to totalitarianism. When they say "PC movement" it reminds Americans of other dangerous movements (e.g. Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Terrorism, etc.). This leads people to respond with the thought that "PC" must be stopped, is dangerous. This is deceptive because it masks the real problem: Republicans using PC as a rallying cry for the censorship and intimidation of teachers.
SOLUTION - Think big. Hit first: (1) State a list defining "PC" in Progressive terms: "Yes I'm PC! I stand for Protecting the Constitution, Positive Change, Preventing Crime, Providing for Children, Pro Choice, Pro Community..." (2) Re-Focus "PC" so that it labels Republicans as they are acting right now: Puritan Crusaders, President's Cult.
Step 1: See the Path Metaphor at Work
There are many places to look for the Neo-Con frame invoked by the term "PC." Let's take a look at this quote from an essay called The Real Meaning of 'PC' by Edwin J. Feulner at the Neo-con think tank called The Heritage Foundation:
What's going on at American college campuses goes far beyond burning newspapers and boycotting Christmas. In a "PC" world, you only have the right to one opinion: theirs. If you don't agree, you are immediately labeled "insensitive" and become a fair target, even for physical attack. And the people who revel in this gender-neutral, multi-cultural, lock-step mindset do so in the name of tolerance! Next time you hear someone make a joke about the verbal somersaults required by political correctness, set the record straight: The PCers don't just want you to talk their way. They mean to stop you from talking any other way.
Feulner is one of many Neo-con intellectuals who are paid to feed hateful ideas into American society. Here he is talking about an incident on a college campus where students became extremely passionate in asserting their rights to use language that best expressed their views. The response was robust and disruptive. But notice all the references to burning books. The frame that Feulner is setting in this statement is powerful and dangerous. Progressives cannot afford to fall victim to this frame anymore.
The logic is simple: [PC] is [a dangerous movement]. This metaphor follows the general logic of a [social movement] is [a path].
The metaphor of a path is very, very important because it allows the Neo-Cons to argue for policy changes based on what current events or issues will lead to further down the path. This is the logic that Neo-Cons use effectively time and time and time again to scare the pants off the American public. You thought the Twin Towers being attacked by planes was scary? Well, according to Dick Cheney, down the path you'll find nuclear bombs exploding in our cities (not true). You thought George W. Bush botched up Iraq? Well, if you vote for John Kerry then down the path you'll find an even bigger mess (not true). You think Social Security is in good shape now? Well, according to George W. Bush, down the path you'll find complete bankruptcy (absolutely not true). You think using the word "Africa-American" instead of "Negro" or "Black" is empowering for most and a little awkward at for others at first? Well, down the path we have a full-on totalitarian society with a complete loss of freedom where you will be pulled out of your bed in the middle of the night and thrown in jail forever if you don't act, dress, speak and think like the government tells you to (not true, not true, not true).
The path metaphor is a powerful tool. It's been used against Progressives to label us "PC" for the past 25 years. And it's getting worse. It's now being used by Republican elected officials to enact statutes that "protect" students from "PC" college professors. Yeah, protect them like hanging Rebecca Nurse protected the good people of Salem, Massachusetts.
Well, folks...the Neo-Con abuse of Progressives by the term PC ends right now. It's time to snatch this puppy out of the delicate little hands of those Neo-Con intellectuals and put it to better use.
We can't just avoid "PC." We need to outflank the Neo-Con use of this term. Believe me, they are not ready for what's about to hit them. And it's going to be fun to be a part of.
No, we're not going to strike "PC" from our vocabulary. Instead, we're going to own it, today, right now, quickly and without warning.
Here we go...
Step 2: Protect the Constitution, Pro Choice, Provide for Children...
The first step is to respond to this term by asking "What do you mean by PC?" But to be even stronger, we can ask and answer that question ourselves. In thinking about what PC could mean, I generated a long list of phrases that involve the letters "P" and "C" (Positive Change, Pro Choice, Promoting Cooperation, Preventing Crime, Protecting Children). We sure are the PC party. Hell, yes. But I've settled on this one: Protect the Constitution. Here's what to say when the accusation is leveled:
"You're darn right I'm "PC." I believe in Protecting the Constitution, Promoting Cooperation, Polishing-Up Communities, Providing for Children, Preventing Crime. For goodness sake! All Americans are "PC" because all Americans are for Positive Change."
There is neither time nor resources to strike this term from the English langauge. We must practice firing off this response each and every time we are accused of being "PC." It must become habit. No instance left un-answered. No awkward silence at the dinner table. No respect for your Mother-in-Law's thanksgiving dinner. Get that answer out. Overwhelm the insult.
We must get used to giving an answer this runs on for a while, that leaves no room for a response. With this statement we are reaching over from the passenger seat, grabbing the wheel by the hands, and pushing the Neo-Con driver of this debate out the door.
Why? Because we have places to go. It's time to go on the offense.
Step 3: Puritan Crusade
To get into the state of mind that we need to take back this issue, everyone should go read or watch Arthur Miller's The Crucible. This one of the great American text ever written. Period. It's the story of the Salem Witch Hunts and it is the frame we are after when we go on offense against the Neo-Cons.
The metaphors we will use are: [politics] is [fanatical cult] and [politics] is [village hysteria].
We are long overdue in finding a phrase to label Neo-Con behavior. Consider this frame:
"America is a great center of learning and creativity and our language is constantly growing as a result. The founders of this Country understood that the words we use would change in every generation, and so our Constitution protects every American's right to express themselves in new ways as well as old. Unfortunately, some Americans do not value this aspect of the Constitution. These people launch a Puritan Crusade when faced with the prospect of new words, new expressions or new books entering into America's schools. These Americans would rather whip up hysteria and lead a village witch hunt than protect the Constitution and provide for our children."
This frame can be broken down into one phrase: Puritan Crusade
But that's just half the battle. The other half is using "PC" to describe the Neo-Con tendency to repeat and repeat and repeat whatever the President says.
Step 4: President's Cult
Remember the metaphor of [politics] is [fanatical cult]. This is a powerful metaphor. What do people do in a powerful cult? They follow the leader, they are loyal no matter what, the word of the leader comes before all else, they never admit fault in the leader, they would die for the leader, if the leader says it's right than it's right, and so forth.
Inspiration for this phrase comes from Seymour Hersch's latest essay in The New Yorker. The problem with the Bush administration is not that they are too Christian. I don't really believe for a second that Dick Cheney, for example, is a devout religious person. The problem is that they have turned the White House into a high temple for the Presidential Cult. Nobody gets in our out unless they swear allegiance to the leader of the cult. And anyone who fails to express that allegiance is thrown out of the cult forever.
Followers of the President's Cult say whatever he tells them to say. If the President says "Ownership Society," then his PC followers say it, too. If the President says "Personal Savings Accounts," then his PC followers say it, too. IF the President says "freedom" twelve-thousand times, then his PC followers say it, too. They say whatever the head of the PC wants them to say until the murmur of the President's PC followers spreads across the country, growing louder and louder and louder.
The inner circle at the White House are PC apostles. They spread the PC word and make sure that every one of the President's PC followers knows exactly which PC words to repeat. This Sunday, the PC apostles will fan out across the airwaves of America's talk shows to make sure that every PC member has a change to learn the words that they must repeat about the elections in Iraq. And soon they will be repeating them, like faithful PC followers. "It's amazing there were elections at all!" "The Iraqi people have chosen freedom!" "Freedom!" "Freedom!" "Freedom!"
What's the problem with these adherents to the President's PC movement? The problem is that they are growing increasingly intolerant of anyone who doesn't repeat the PC words. As more and more people join the President's Cult, the accusations of "heresy" against those who have not joined grow louder and more threatening.
But there's another problem, too.
Americans don't really believe in the President's Cult. American's believe in and belong to the cult of the Constitution of the United States. Any President who believes that his or her words are sacred above and beyond the Constitution is a threat to the Constitution. And any President that threatens the Constitution will be stopped because one by one, Americans will stand up together to protect the Constitution the way it has always protected us.
Step 5: PC, PC, PC, PC, PC, PC, PC...
- Protect the Constitution
- Puritan Crusade
- President's Cult
Write those three phrases on the back of a business card or on half of an index card and stick them in your shirt pocket or in your wallet. Use as often as you can.
Those three phrases are a three-part punch that no Neo-Con is expecting. They think that all Progressives go on defense when we hear that accusation of being "PC." The last thing they will be expecting is for us to go on offense. But that's exactly what we will do.
The cowering ends today. Everyone stand up, stand together, and take back this issue. It's time to give a few names to the way the Neo-Cons behave and to do what is necessary to make those names stick.
Now, get back out there...