This Week’s 5 Most Politically Incorrect Screw-Ups
Two Latino women, a catholic priest, and a man from Syria walk into a bar. They each ordered beverages and eventually leave. See, we all know that joke could have gone a lot of other ways. Political correctness is hardly a consistent presence in American culture; we’re confronted by off-color remarks on a nearly daily basis in all likelihood.
The reason we bump into this so often can be pretty self-explanatory, because probably every single one of us has some sort of cultural, political, or ethical blind spot without knowing it. This leads us to make foolish or hurtful remarks without thought — unconscious prejudices are a good example of how less-than ideal political commentary can filter into rhetoric without notice. In the end, demonizing this isn’t particularly constructive. Better to recognize and correct it, ultimately understanding that we all do it to some extent; whether we’re white, black, Latino, Catholic, Muslim, Syrian, Israeli, Chinese, tired, thirsty, drunk, eating nachos, etc., you’ve probably said something politically incorrect.
However there are some exceptions to this. In particular, it’s absolutely fair to expect slightly more from politicians — who are highly visible elected representatives of our whole nation — and from news media — who have the benefit of a series of editors and reviews. Even just looking at this last week, the examples are pretty damning. So let’s take a walk down bitter lane and peruse the political repugnance in recent history — and remember not to follow in our fellow American’s footsteps.
1. Fox News and the “American Jihad”
Earlier this week Fox News published a piece written by Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team, in which he called for an “American Jihad .”
“The Constitution, along with the miracle of our nation’s founding and the providential history of America fighting and winning war after war against oppressive regimes, proves our manifest destiny not only to preserve our borders and safety and national character at home, but to spread around the world our love of individual freedom and insist on its reflection in every government,” writes Ablow. First of all, the use of the phrase “manifest destiny” — basically colonial in origin, should be a red flag all by itself. Then the words “love of individual freedom” followed quickly by instruction that the U.S. should impose its own form of government on other nations is pretty much the definition of irony. There’s a reason other nations find America to be elitist and aggressive, and call us a bully. And that reason has a lot to do with people like Dr. Ablow.
Moreover, as a response to religious violence, this is hands-down the worst possible way to combat extremist views, especially because Ablow includes religious rhetoric that suggests it’s not only an American Jihad but a Christian one as well — and need I remind Dr. Ablow that not all Americans are Christian, just another one of those fancy individual freedoms he was referencing. “An American Jihad would make every teacher of American history not only a public servant, but a servant of the Truth,” he writes, in what is disturbingly reminiscent of a propagandist’s lilt. The article reads as a creepy, extremist piece of indoctrination coming from a culturally and religiously ignorant place, with a self-contradicting message of hyper-patriotism and freedom contrasted with an almost authoritarian insistence on conquering and imposing other nations, including “boots on the ground.”
2. Chris Christie’s Minimum Wage Comment
Potential presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is not known for filtering his commentary — it’s a straight shooting, direct reputation he purposefully seems to cultivate. Sometimes this is in his favor, but with recent statements regarding the minimum wage he would have benefited from a more careful approach.
“I got to tell the truth, I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized. Is that what parents aspire to for their children?” asked Christie just a little over a week ago.
What Christie fails to understand in a way that calls to mind Mitt Romeny’s 47% remarks, is the whole range of circumstances in which Americans find themselves. Yes, some parents sit around the table and hope for more than their 19-year-old to work a minimum wage job. But some parents are 19 years-old themselves and are simply working to feed their kids at that same minimum wage job, or need that money to get through school and make a better life. Some individuals work minimum wage because it’s the only work they are capable of, whether due to disability or mental health, but either way, Christie has directly spit on those who work in lower paying jobs as though parents cannot be proud of their children for working hard in whatever capacity they are able. Some children don’t have parents who aspire to anything for them. It shows a significant lack of understanding for the variety of backgrounds and situations in America.
3. ISIL/Ebola Costumes
Halloween is one of the most fantastic holidays of the year; no stress, no last minute gift wrapping, no awkward dates, just loads and loads of candy and face paint. But it’s also apparently the time for inappropriate and cringe-inducing costume ideas, and this year perhaps takes the cake. Many Americans seem to have forgotten that while America may only have one remaining case of Ebola — making the media panic surrounding the virus a comical overreaction — the disease itself is not funny, and in West Africa, thousands of families and medical personnel have died.
The “sexy Ebola containment suit” is in incredibly bad taste. “As the deadly Ebola virus trickles its way through the United States, fighting disease is no reason to compromise style,” writes BrandsonSale.com, “The short dress and chic gas mask will be the talk of Milan, London, Paris, and New York as the world’s fashionistas seek global solutions to hazmat couture.” Come on, America.
If that’s not enough to send you into a downward spiral of depression, there’s the ISIL Halloween costume that’s apparently going to be a thing this year:
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) October 28, 2014
It’s unclear how anyone could confuse this for a funny or amusing costume but the most likely answer seems to be simple but disturbing ignorance, which makes me believe America might be a better place if mandatory world religions courses were taught in public schools. If nothing else it would help ensure that people can recognize why this is so offensive:
— Ismat Sarah Mangla (@ismat) October 28, 2014
4. Ted Cruz’s Reaction to Tim Cook
For those who don’t know, Timothy Cook, chief executive of Apple, came out as gay on Thursday, saying “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” in an essay written for Bloomberg Businessweek. “Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day,” he wrote, explaining that it’s worth sacrificing his own privacy if “hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is.”
One of the most stubbornly insistent misunderstandings and deeply rooted ignorances when it comes to sexual orientation is the concept that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, otherwise, is a choice. That an individual is choosing to be outside the heteronormative community is often a transitional way to label this “lifestyle choice” a sin from a religious perspective. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) added to this with his commentary following Cook’s announcement, saying “Those are his personal choices. I’ll tell you, I love my iPhone … Listen, Tim Cook makes his personal decisions, and that is his life. My focus is on the constitutional question of who has the authority to make decisions,” according to Salon, in reference to same-sex marriage — which struck a victory recently when the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from lower courts, leading to equal rights across a number of states.
5. Lindsey Graham and Male-Only Clubs
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been discussed among others including Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kent.) for a potential 2016 presidential bid. But given his statements this month, he’ll likely have alienated a huge portion of his electorate; in fact, he’s probably alienated everyone except “white men in male-only clubs” which he said in a recording would do well under a Graham presidency.
“I’m trying to help you with your tax status,” said Graham according to CNN, “I’m sorry the government’s so f—ed up. If I get to be president, white men in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency.” He was, of course, speaking to a male-only club in North Carolina, but that hardly improves helps his case.
More Politics Cheat Sheet:
- 5 Terrible Campaigns This Election Season
- 3 of the Worst Flip-Floppers in Washington
- 5 of the Most Outlandish Senate Campaigns of 2014
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS