I think that the debates from yesterday were incoherent, and it was disturbing to see how much discourse has devolved in the US, and furthermore, how much people are relying on narratives and frameworks that can be summed up by the decision to name or not name white supremacist groups, and also the decision to say or not to say “Black lives matter.”
I think that political correctness became associated with the media elites and their focus on identity politics, and that the only people denied care in that setting were white working class folks – so to show care, one must be politically incorrect. But language shapes reality, which is something that political correctness dogma overlooks.
To be sure we all ignored them. Hillary Clinton made a fatal error when she called them deplorables, a dynamic that Mr. Trump was exploiting even before her bias against poor white people and their needs was articulated in the phrase “deplorables.” She wouldn’t have called them deplorables if she didn’t think that she could get away with it, and she knew she could get away with it because she was in the elite bubble and it was not even framed for her in a way that would make it to get away with or not get away with. They literally didn’t matter.
The problem with political correctness is that it is not necessarily helping anyone on the left as we get closer into the election. Nor is Mr. Trump’s reckless racism helping either. But my concern is that we have developed entire linguistic systems around political ideologies and it is becoming like a secret handshake that only the initiated can enter into.
This was definitely the case in the presidential debates from 2016 as well. I remember one moment where Hillary Clinton alluded to how Republicans were essentially advocating for trains taking people into camps, a clear allusion to the Holocaust and the treatment of Jews. She didn’t say “Trump you are like Hitler and you are being an ethnocentric nationalist.” But she didn’t have to either. Because just the allusion to trains sparked awareness of the listeners and triggered liberal approval. Which led to an upping of the white supremacist rhetoric. White people can treat PC/white supremacist rhetoric as a thought experiment. But such experiments are deadly to people of color.
Similarly, Mr. Trump’s disgusting refusal to denounce white supremacy and his encouraging of white supremacist groups in the debate yesterday with Mr. Biden, speaks volumes, and rightfully cast fear into my heart. It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the undercurrents of liberal maneuvering around the Black Lives Matter movement, which spurs defensiveness in Mr. Trump’s conservative white base and leads them to stoke his racism, but should we really be excusing Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy because he is fed up with political correctness? This is not tit for tat, in my opinion. Instead it is mistaking PC fascism (the left) with actual fascism of white supremacists, which the failure to denounce marks a person as white supremacist.
The problem about this is that the debate featured white men talking around the notions of white supremacy and Black Lives Matter, without really embodying those realities in that Trump is not a leader of the KKK and Biden is not Black.
The debate was with words that mobilized both parties and sent them into battle against one another.
What a lot of my conservative friends really don’t seem to get is that white supremacy is dangerous, while Black Lives Matter is a call for dignity and equality. White supremacy is not the inversion of Black Lives Matter, but it is rather the rejection of Black lives not mattering as much as white ones. Black Lives Matter says that Black lives are equal to white lives. White supremacy means that white lives are supreme and more valuable. Therefore, Trump’s refusal to denounce it is not the same as Biden’s endorsement of Black Lives Matter.
While the above paragraph features my own interpretation of current national topics, it is deeply contextual and based on the books I have read, and the experiences that I have had. But it can’t be removed from the context of this whole article, and our stamina as readers and writers is just not intact anymore. This article itself is getting long and as its writer, I worry about the stamina of my readers, but I must persist. We want soundbites, and easily consumed knowledge that really isn’t knowledge at all, but is either PC posturing or white supremacist speak.
Black Lives Matter at its heart transcends the PC and gets into the humanity of a people who have been treated as less than. Therefore to serve it best, we must break free from the burdens of PC and learn to codeswitch. We need to tell Mr. Trump during the debate that his failure to denounce white supremacy is white supremacist rather than leave that to viewers up on liberal speak to infer that after we lay traps for him that will lead him to produce racist soundbites for the New York Times to cover in biased fashion. The stakes are high: Black lives are at stake when white people pull political rank built around coded language of whether a person is PC or not. Literal lives. It is not a thought experiment.
But do we remember that anymore?
Teach students, without drama and histrionics, that not denouncing white supremacy is unequivocally a white supremacist action.
Because we are calling anything that is not anti-racist white supremacy, we are losing the ability to name white violence. White violence is not the same as white silence. It is something we have forgotten, and we must recover our ability to distinguish silence from violence before our silence as supporters of Black lives in the face of white supremacy from our president leads to actual violence in the streets against the people who those in power consistently say don’t matter when it matters most.