Barack_Obama_and_Yukio_Hatoyama_20091113_2I’d been planning to offer some thoughts on another right wing meme, “political correctness,” to follow up on my piece about “personal responsibility.” With the latest furor over “Bow Gate,” today seemed like a good time to post it. As usual, the right wing gets its hooks into our psyche with a grain of truth.

Reaction to the president’s bow to the emperor of Japan is a great example of the “political correctness” meme at work. “Politically,” it is unquestionably the “correct” thing to do. So how do conservatives manage to create “faux pas” hysteria out of run-of-the-mill protocol?

Again, the right wing deserves kudos for master manipulation of language. With “personal responsibility,” they use a phrase that sounds good and use it as a brand for something objectionable. With “political correctness,” they use a phrase that sounds repellent to drum up opposition to something good.

The phase “politically correct” is cleverly constructed to imply two things. The first is lack of intrinsic value. The word “political” suggests self-serving, deceptive, tactics designed to deceive and score points. It’s a brilliant misnomer, because the political context of civil rights, international protocol, and other acts of civility cannot be denied. It’s a very effective way to impugn the motives of “politically correct” behavior and make it appear to be exactly the opposite of what it actually is.

But it’s the word “correctness” that, in my opinion, is the real masterstroke of this sloganeering (thanks, Beachchick for that word!). Even the staccato sound of the word “correctness” suggest the rigid fussiness of a prim schoolmarm. It’s an unflattering, and deliberately female allusion. And it falls in line with the right wing’s ongoing use of feminine references to imply weakness, lack of resolve, and lack of judgment. Anything that smacks of compassion, kindness, respect, thoughtfulness, restraint—can be attacked as “femininizing.”

With the phrase “political correctness,” conservatives have packaged in a tight, two-word slogan, a psychologically charged attack on civility.

The continual ridicule of “political correctness” by right wing talking heads conditions their audiences to see anything less than a punch in the face as weak. It paves the way for conservatives to use the language of violence, epithet, and insult to mask their lack of well-reasoned argument in the public debate. It reduces all dialogue to a brawl. And it keeps us divided.

It was used after 911:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. —Karl Rove

It is being used to blame the army for the Fort Hood incident:

The incontrovertible facts surrounding the incident indicate conclusively that the mayhem was a direct result of political correctness run amok, the consequences of which, for this case, proved deadly. —John Kinsellagh

And this week it is the go-to basis for criticizing the president when he shows respect to another world leader. It is designed to “feminize” our president—to make him appear weak, submissive, subservient, even anti-American. Rather than the master diplomat that he is in reality.

The use of “femininity” as a pejorative to denigrate behavior is what I personally find most disturbing about the right’s focus on “political correctness.” Below are a few articles for more background on this aspect of right wing politics, along with a warning to progressives.

The right-wing cult of contrived masculinity
The Coulter-Matthews-Dowd continuum
The New Feminized Majority
Why It’s Not Smart to Call Women Conservatives ‘Whores’

I have to wonder what would have happened if progressives had accused President Bush of political correctness when he held hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Would conservatives have had an answer? That might have yielded a clever talking point for future reference.

80
Leave a Comment

Please Login to comment
14 Comment threads
66 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
AdLibPepeLepewKhiradchoiceladykesmarn Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
escribacat
Member

Nellie, just saw a new example of your thesis here: “President Pantywaist.” What do you suppose that is supposed to mean?

bito
Member

Opps, did Texas get a little too correct?
Group Says Prop. 2 Could Make Straight Marriage Illegal.
Faulty wording in a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage poses a bigger threat to “traditional” marriage than all the homosexuals in the world, opponents of Prop. 2 declared Monday, the first day of early voting.
the Rev. Tom Hegar, a Presbyterian minister, warns that because the second part of the proposed amendment, prohibiting the recognition of “any legal status identical or similar to marriage,” fails to distinguish between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, a “liberal activist judge” could see fit to void all marriages. “Don’t risk it; vote against it,” Hegar says, and ends with “God bless you.”
read more:http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A303822

Pepe Lepew
Member

Regarding the comments about Sarah’s narcissism.
You all probably know there actually is a condition called Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
I’ve unfortunately had two serious run-ins with NPD — we probably all have to a degree — about 10 years ago with a former boss and about 15 years ago with an old girlfriend. (Not that I’m bitter! :))
The most succinct way to sum up NPD — People with this disorder are simply incapable of giving a crap about the effect of their behaviour and actions upon other people. They are simply incapable of “getting it.” And yet, they expect everyone to care about them and their feelings.
They are also incapable of ever admitting they are wrong and they are incapable of acknowledging others may have knowledge they don’t possess. In short, they know everything, they’re smarter than everyone and they’re always right. They are also incapable of accepting responsibility for their actions, behaviour, etc. They will find the most convoluted rationales to shift blame to others and paint themselves as a victim.
So, having had my two big run-ins with NPD, I am utterly, thoroughly convinced Sarah Palin is a poster child for NPD.

Pepe Lepew
Member

I found this Newsweek blog article about Sarah Palin and why right-wing men defend her so vociferously when they know — they just *know* deep down inside she’s a joke.
I had a debate today that annoyed me with what appeared to be a reasonably intelligent right-winger whining that Sarah is literally a victim … that she is being victimized by the media because they dare to go over her book with a fine-tooth comb and point out all its falsehoods.

http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2009/11/16/payback-time-why-right-wing-men-rush-to-palin-s-defense.aspx

kesmarn
Admin

A very interesting article, Pepe. It addresses an issue that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about (Palin’s–to me–inexplicable popularity) because I think we may be dealing with it for some time to come.

A couple of thoughts come to mind, along the lines of those that Clift mentions in the article, regarding her base. I’m reminded of a crowd that I saw years ago at–of all things–a professional wrestling match. (Disclaimer: I did not voluntarily attend this event. I was tricked into it :o), and had no means of transportation to get away, once I was there!) It hardly requires a rocket scientist to infer that professional wrestling is fake. And yet, virtually every person at this event (the crowd was very white, very rural) was apparently buying into the ‘story line’ of the various matches (with the exception of me, I guess). The story line never varied. There was a good guy and a bad guy in each match up. The good guy always seemed to be winning right up to the very end of the match, when the bad guy would suddenly engage in a dirty trick, like sucker punching the good guy from behind, or getting a colleague on the sidelines to trip the good guy. Then the good guy would lose. Not because he was in any way inferior as a man or a fighter, but because the deck was stacked against him by “them.” The crowd would roar it’s outrage over and over. It was a very, very weird experience.

More and more, of late, I’m beginning to think all those Palin fans have exactly the same outlook. They identify with a person who is, to put it bluntly, a loser. (Beck comes to mind here, too.) But they and the people they worship are not losers because they have refused to get an education, or to apply themselves seriously to any effort. They are losers because “THEY” (the elites) hold all the cards. It’s just damned bad luck. They just grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, or were ‘born to lose,’or people are just jealous of them, or whatever I-don’t-have-to-take-responsibility-for-my-failures excuse they can hang on to. They are victims of life, of circumstances, of a rigged game. Even though they were often the people who partied too hard all the way through high school (or all two years of it before they dropped out), made fun of smart people, sober people, hard-working people, unions, going to college instead of getting a job ‘on the line,’ etc. When it all blows up in their faces, they know only one thing: they’re angry. So they’re instantly attracted to the angriest loser in the public arena.

Especially if she’s “reeeel purty,” too.

Kalima
Admin

My apologies to nellie but there is a mention of sexism in your post and I just found this gem about Sarah P and was wondering what can be done to shut her up. Taking out the batteries maybe?

She posed for the darned photo dressed like this, so where is her beef?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20091117/pl_ynews/ynews_pl984

KQµårk 死神
Member

The bowing “controversy” is the most ridiculous right wing promoted faux outrage in American History.

Eisenhower to Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Yes he was Emperor during WWII.

Nixon bowed to Emperor Hirohito AND Chairman Mao, yes Mao the red communist.

W. gave the Saudi King a fucking Cadillac and let the whole Saudi Royals leave the country after 911 but the right wing had no problem with that.

Pepe Lepew
Member

Actually, I put it just a smidge below the “Obama is trying to indoctrinate our children behind our backs!” as the silliest controversy ever…

Khirad
Member

Didn’t Nixon give Brezhnev a Cadillac, too?

escribacat
Member

I believe we also let a bunch of the bin Laden family leave the country too.

choicelady
Member

In part I’m responding to bitohistory on Frank Schaffer’s appearance and warning. The derision heaped on this president now has taken an open threat of calling for his death. Oh, it’s all wrapped up in Biblical verse. but it’s a direct call for his murder. And the right, wrapping itself in patriotism, uses its tarring of any of his or our actions as “political correctness” to show we are unAmerican and deserving of whatever comes our way. Schaffer’s observation is right – it’s whipping up the RW, especially those adhering to the C Street Family types who justify anything they do if they profess Christ – and all it takes is a few. It’s terrifying to me how many people who voted for Obama are also ready to boil him in oil because he is NOT a left-wing imperial president. With little overt support from those who worked the campaign (and then sat back for him to fix everything) and slavering screeching from the right with their various memes against Obama and anything progressive, I truly fear for this nation. What the HELL are we going to DO?

javaz
Member

We’ve got one of them nutjobs posing as an evangelical preacher in Tempe, Arizona.

The not-so-good-reverend just happened to be tasered at a checkpoint by the border.

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bastard/2009/08/tempe_pastor_steven_anderson_p.php

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/03/the-rev-steven-anderson-american-taliban/

bito
Member

Wow, you are worked up as Frank was. I can not disagree with a word you say> What are we going to do about it? I am old school. Join your local party meetings, go to your local city/town meetings. Become a precinct person, work for candidates, walk door to door, and yes do the dreaded phone banking.

Elections are fun–legislation is work. Writ letters to editors, congress. If everyone would commit two hrs a week, there will be a change.

choicelady
Member

Hi- I actually not only DO all this but mobilize over 1.5 million (yes, in fact, honestly) progressive members of the faith community to do the same. I KNOW what a difference this makes, but I’m still so frustrated by the MSM and especially my secular progressive allies. I’m horrified by their snotty dismissal of Obama – it seems to me they reinforce the Right by this cavalier attitude. I’m on the board of a national organization against torture – and they are all hand wringing over Obama’s “failures” that are not failures at ALL. If the Left doesn’t grow up, I fear Schaffer will be correct – it’s actually very dangerous. I’m heartened by the intelligence revealed every day here, but except for Rachel and Keith I sure don’t see much good sense and judgment alive in this land. Scares the living daylights out of me!

bito
Member

Choicelady, I thank you for all your work. It does seem to me you are in a better position to change the hearts and minds of people. It also seems that you are the one to give guidance on what we should be doing. Perhaps we should be writing as many letters to MSM as we do to our elected reps.

bito
Member

Frank Schaffer on Rachel Maddow. WOW! He just put a point on this post. I was impressed and hope everyone gets a chance to see this challenge.

escribacat
Member

Yeah, I just watched it. Now I’m all worried about the president again!

Schaffer is an interesting guy — I wonder how he escaped that evangelical universe.

Khirad
Member

He wrote an article on it (and book). Quite interesting.

Kalima
Admin

I’ll watch it later when ITunes downloads my Podcasts tonight, I’ve watched him on Rachel before and admire what he says.

I should imagine that he grew a conscience, a heart and a soul to help him escape.

kesmarn
Admin

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the right appropriated and warped the meaning of a phrase (“politically correct”) that had already been in existence for quite a long time. Not that the origin of the phrase really matters, but I think that it might have once actually had some real meaning attached to it. It wasn’t used primarily as a weapon, the way the right uses it now. But then–what isn’t a weapon in their hands?

Our Boy Rush’s current favorite catch-phrase is the “chickification of America.” What he means by this (or anything else he says) is not too clear, but he seems to feel that girls and girly feelings are just ruining (sob) everything :o(!

How is this obnoxious? Let me count the ways. To imply that once women have their icky, perfumy hands on something, it’s wrecked, is hardly a compliment to half the population. To identify President Obama with the chickification trend, as Rush does, is meant to be derogatory, obviously. And it’s as much an attack on his manhood as it would be to call him a ‘boy.’

Which leaves us with the right’s role models for ‘real’ masculinity: which apparently would be…. Dubya and Rush? Two people who are belligerent without being strong, and aggressive without courage. Two guys who are good at causing suffering in others, but not so great at sacrifice themselves.

And what does the right regard as a ‘real woman’? Certainly not that ball-busting Hillary! Nooooo. It’s moose-shootin’, wolf-slayin’ Sarah. She allegedly can fry up a trout she caught herself while having a guy’s sixth kid and look great in her homemade dress while doin’ it. This parody of some fundie, frontier ideal of femininity never did exist in real life (thank God), but only in the fevered fantasies of guys like Rush.

So the ‘acceptable’ image of masculinity/femininity of these deep thinkers on the right would boil down to: GI Joe and Barbie.

For them, real people need not apply.

escribacat
Member

Hehe. Excellent, kesarm! I have never listened to that slobbering, shirt-plucking moron but I see clips of him on KO. I wasn’t aware of this “chickification” bullshit. Do you think maybe he hates women? Just a teeny bit? Do you think maybe the girls sneered at him in high school? Made him a little bitter?

kesmarn
Admin

I understand he has been divorced three times, so it may be a toss up as to whether he hates women or vice versa (maybe both?)
But seriously ;o): I think he merely lumps women in with the “other” inferior creatures on the planet–like minorities, gays, Muslims, liberals, etc. etc–whose primary duty is to know their place and humbly stay in it.

escribacat
Member

Nellie, excellent piece and very shrewd observations. I can’t think how often I’ve read recently that Obama needs to “man up.” Congress needs to “man up.” What the hell does that mean? I think it means, as you say, they need to punch someone in the face.

One of my favorites from past rightwingers (I think against Dukakis) is the “card-carrying member of the ACLU,” which was a method of implying that those who donated to the ACLU were members of the communist party.

bito
Member

You are correct. George I in a mocking, sniveling voice “He’s a card carrying member of the ACLU!” Not a pretty picture.

Kalima
Admin

This whole furor about bowing has me seeing red, I want to smack some ignorant moron across the head. What they don’t understand with their accusations and more than likely never will, is how this reflects on the Japanese as a people. I see it again as racism and hate for things that occurred during WW11 and have had my share of the same demeaning behaviour for being born in Germany. The RW’s insistence of pushing this to the hilt, is openly declaring the Japanese as second class citizens and after living here for 30 years, working with Japanese people, knowing many as friends, and even living with one, I resent this very much.

It is not really political, it is cultural and it is traditional to bow to older people, people you respect and yes to the Emperor too.

Why for instance did women in past administrations cover their heads and arms when they visited Muslim countries, couldn’t the RW have taken umbrage at this, of course not. The RW has one set of rules for themselves and when someone else does it, they make it sound like treason. I would like to build a huge Noah’s Ark and set them adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, I really would.

Btw in my country growing up, it was good manners and tradition for the boys and men to bow, older men tipped their hats at women in the neighbourhood and girls were expected to curtsey, we saw nothing odd in that, it was a part of our social structure, it is a part of the Japanese social structure too. As I mentioned on another thread a few days ago, bowing in Japan is equal to a handshake in other countries, to demean it publicly is shameful, I even find myself bowing to people when I’m on the phone.

The RW naysayers need and a ice cold shower, they are not only racists, hypocrites and bigots, they obviously suffer greatly with rampant xenophobia, pity there is no pill for what ails them. Idiots one and all!

escribacat
Member

We are talking about a xenophobic mentality that sees all dealings with foreigners as a contest for supremacy. Diplomacy as the same thing as capitulation. Good manners are a sign of weakness. Actual communication and friendship are seen as a betrayal. And democrats are guilty of all these things no matter what they do.

Kalima
Admin

This what makes me laugh about them, they forget their roots. Their ancestors all came from somewhere else. The true Americans before it became known as America, would have been the Native Indians and look at the price they payed and where most of them find themselves now. I wonder if a Repug would like to explain this before they start shooting their mouths off again or criticizing another country again.

kesmarn
Admin

The caricature of the Ugly American is alive and well on the right!

Kalima
Admin

You can say that again!

bito
Member

Morning Kalima, hope your treatment went well. You being raised RC did you ever go into church without a head covering?
Just a few years ago I knew women who would not do such a thing. It just seems to some easier to ridicule than learn when they are ignorant.
Now, how do you really feel about bowing?LOL

Kalima
Admin

Thank you for asking bitohistory, I’m not quite sure if it was successful yet, maybe I will know tomorrow.

In Germany, I didn’t have to cover my head until after my First Holy Communion and I think that now it is a matter of choice in many countries, unless we are talking about devoted RC’s in Spain or even Mexico I think. The last time I attended Mass here would be about 20 years ago and I didn’t cover my head, a few of the older women did though. I believe it to be a remnant of the time we still read and spoke the Mass in Latin many years ago.

bito
Member

Familiar with those “procedures” Maybe tomorrow….

Kalima
Admin

Yes, maybe tomorrow. 🙂

javaz
Member

I agree with you, but please remember that anything President Obama does or does not do, the Republicans will criticize.

I left you on your thread about President Obama’s speech, the link to an article that showed past Republicans bowing to world leaders and even kissing the Saudi King.

The Republicans and the corporate masters want our president to fail, and so they attack, even when they know they are wrong.
It is hypocrisy at it’s finest moment, but we’re used to it, or should be.

Don’t get too angry or stressed or insulted, because it’s typical of our politics.

I’ve learned to laugh about it all because it is healthier.
I used to worry and stress out so badly during Bush Jr.’s term, but I’ve learned to let it go.

I refuse to let the corporate media manipulate me.

Good Morning, Kalima and I do hope you are feeling better today.

Kalima
Admin

Good evening javaz. Yes I saw the link you left on my post and answered, thank you.

Stress is not good for my illness, I try to avoid it but just can’t tolerate downright stupidity. There IS no excuse for being stupid.

BigDogMom
Member
BigDogMom

Morning Kalima, thank you for your wisdom…I was HuffPo today, because I felt like ‘dithering’ today, and I don’t know how many times I repeated your statement regarding bowing….I was frustrating, and I was even very nice and polite in my posts when correcting them…the RW doesn’t want to know the truth, they don’t hear us..

Kalima
Admin

Thank you BDM. I think it’s more common sense than wisdom and the fact that I have lived and visited many other countries in my lifetime. Also I was brought up to never have any prejudice about either skin colour or the religious beliefs of others. My best friend as a little kid had beautiful long black hair worn in an envious platt reaching down her back, her skin was brown, I didn’t notice, her mother was Indian and this was quite unusual in our small town but if there was gossip, we were never privy to any of it, I doubt that there ever was.

Posting on Huff will not change these people, they have a sickness that only they themselves can cure, they just don’t want to, that’s all.

BigDogMom
Member
BigDogMom

nellie, thanks for another insightful post on the GOP’s manifesto on manipulating the masses, which is very close to the famous Nazi propaganda machine:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

javaz
Member

Excellent article, Nellie, and exceptional writing!

I saw the collapse of civility in debate occur about the time Rush Limbaugh came on the scene.
I’m not referring to the 60’s and the massive protests since those were turbulent times – and we need to do that again – but I’m talking civil discourse when it comes to the politicians and conservative pundits, and they fuel the hostility and anger in mainstream public.

Rush introduced, imo, the shouting and ranting and raving over those who disagree.
FOX and the Republicans just love to bully and shout down the opposition – we had the YOU LIE moment, and the teabaggers.

Rush introduced the boot-wearing “femi-nazi” and then we have Kyl not wanting to provide maternity leave because it’s an additional expense on corporations.

They preach family values and their version of Christianity, when they are anything but.

During Bush Jr.’s term, anyone who dared criticize Bush was painted as a traitor and accused of treason, and shouted down, and made fun of and the saying at the time was – “the liberals want the terrorists to go on Oprah and talk it out”.

The Republicans rant against political correctness because it gives them validity in calling President Obama a Kenyan, or Nazi, or N-.
It allows them to turn their heads and ignore the signs carried by teabaggers that depict President Obama as a witch doctor, or white faced joker.

Yet, anyone who accuses Sarah Palin – and yes, all threads eventually lead to Sarah – of being an airhead, lipstick wearing pitbull, or a woman of no substance – My God! We’re all anti-strong women and jealous of her because she’s beautiful.
In other words, anyone who dares to criticize Sister Sarah is not politically correct.

BigDogMom
Member
BigDogMom

“We

javaz
Member

Did you watch Oprah?

I didn’t, but read enough about it to know that I’m glad I didn’t watch.

Oprah really made me angry, from what I read, in that she did not question Sister Sarah about her campaign rallies when her followers would shout out such racist, bigoted things against Obama.

Oprah, of all people, should have taken her to task for her refusal to diffuse the racist bigots.

Honestly, I’ll never forgive Oprah for being such a hypocrite.
Oprah has confronted Mark Furhman, from the OJ trial days, yet she let Sarah slide.

BigDogMom
Member
BigDogMom

Yes, I saw the whole interview, it was nothing but a fluff piece, it was a joke.

There was no mention of any of the campaign vitriol against Obama or any statement of her policies.

Sister Sarah must have laid down what could and could not be said, because Oprah did say at one point, “Can I ask you this question, because it is in the book”.

Oprah’s number’s must be slipping for her to have done such a interview like this…but I think she will loose more viewers from reading the posts on Oprah.com.

KQµårk 死神
Member

Wow nellie another great piece! Your ability to deconstruct conservative manipulation of language is uncanny. The right’s strength is the way they can manipulate voters by language into thinking a certain way by framing every argument through a political lens that favors their phony principles.

By successfully bastardizing a positive phrase like “common decency” into the pejorative phrase “political correctness” they have nullified many core liberal and progressive arguments favoring social justice.

Reagan and Lee Atwater’s strategies of demonizing the term “liberal” for example almost instantly turned this country from a center left nation into a nominal center right country. I say “nominal” because peoples core beliefs are center left but still more people call label themselves conservative than liberal in polls.

This is such an important topic nellie because it explains why so many people vote against their own self interests in this country.