No-one precisely knows who is to be credited with the coining of the term ‘political
correctness’. Several Western historians have safely pinpointed certain eras in history when forms of ‘political correctness’ were detectable. Indeed, recently the renowned, award-winning cartoonist, Bill Leak – proving he is quite an accomplished writer – opined that ‘political correctness’ has been thriving in the Islamic world since the 7 th Century AD.
What does it for me is the famous faux exchange between General Douglas MacArthur and his American President, Harry (“Give ‘Em Hell”) Truman at the end of the War in the Pacific in 1945.
The following verbatim telegram record can be found, apparently, in the Truman Library & Museum in Independence, Missouri, USA:
(1) Tokyo, Japan
0800-September 1, 1945
To: President Harry S Truman
From: General D A MacArthur
“Tomorrow we meet with those yellow bellied bastards and sign the Surrender documents.
Any last minute instructions?”
(2) Washington DC
1300-September 1, 1945
To: D A Macarthur
From: H S Truman
“Congratulations, job well done, but you must tone down your obvious dislike of the
Japanese when discussing the terms of the surrender with the press, because some of your
remarks are fundamentally not politically correct!”
(3) Tokyo, Japan
1630-September 1, 1945
To: H S Truman
From: D A MacArthur and C H Nimitz [i.e. Chester Nimitz]
“Wilco Sir, but both Chester and I are somewhat confused about exactly what does the
term ‘politically correct’ mean?”
(4) Washington DC
2120-September 1, 1945
To: D A MacArthur/C H Nimitz
From: H S Truman
“Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by its clean end!”...Truman, obviously “told ‘em how it was” there and then!
In many respects, ‘political correctness’ has become rapacious since this episode. American experience though this is, because the English language is so rich in meaning and subtlety, no other language lives, breathes and constantly adapts as does our ‘mother tongue’. If I choose to ‘tell it like it IS’ without deliberately causing offence or mischief then that is my province and prerogative. It is exercising ‘free speech’. But the point where the line had to be drawn in the proverbial sand has arrived – as it inevitably was going to. In a well-meaning video recently presented by former Chief of the Australian Army, the present Australian of the Year (2015) and, concurrently, the new Chairman of the Diversity Council of Australia, David Morrison, has ‘gone in hard’ on the issue of ‘guy offensiveness’. Morrison, extraordinarily maintains that the word ‘guy’ should no longer be used for men and women. Notwithstanding the word ‘guy’ is NOT deemed to be ‘sexist’ in the Macquarie dictionary and is literally a modern-day collective noun, this idiomatic, gender-neutral, generic word must be applied ONLY to the male of the species.
I once – NOT so long ago – replied to an associate, another Peter, that I found the term ‘political correctness’ to be a scourge because its use was conducive to discrimination, waffling, spindoctoring, mendacity, social tyranny and dissembling. What Morrison is attempting is a real threat to free speech. He wants to expunge ‘guys’ from the workplace because he alleges the plural word is “implicitly sexist” to quote him. Utter Codswallop!
I assert that practitioners of ‘political correctness’ are fond of labelling anyone who expresses mainstream views as bigots. The irony is that those who finger others as bigots are themselves guilty of discrimination. These ‘political correctness’ practitioners are palpably Left ‘progressives’ who tend to be humourless – and social thugs, at that.
Cartoonist – and another excellent, cogent writer, Patrick Cook’s summation on the topic sums it UP properly for me. “Political Correctness is NOT enforced to protect the sensibilities and shield the vulnerabilities of the helpless and the different and the UNfairly maligned. It is enforced to enhance the conceit and swell the power of the enforcers”.
Satirist and Columnist, Rowan Dean, I note is a fearless advocate of ‘safe UNpolitically correct paces’ where individuals may assemble with the express purpose of nobody caring what anybody else says or how they say it’. Dean is plausibly accurate in his surmise that if Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare were alive today they would ‘Rock UP’; be the first two attending the ‘Opening Night’of the first such venue.
Free Speech in a democracy such as Australia needs to be enshrined in law. And it may come to that with the future Republican Scheme of Things. We, absolutely, must never allow ‘political correctness’ practitioners to decide/determine what it is that You OR I may hear, say and see. Nor, whom we may associate with, short of UNacceptable consorting.
Blog No 3 of 15 June, 2016...Writer: PETER CONSANDINE of The RPA