The presidential election has produced some very interesting perhaps mould-breaking results.
For the first time in recent memory we read a statement in a major newspaper, the Sunday Independent, that Political Correctness has gone too far. More significantly it was spoken by a party leader, Micheal Martin, in the wake of the astonishing vote for Peter Casey at 23.3%. To quote Martin: “The sentiment that is expressed – people will take note of that, there is too much political correctness around and people don’t want to say what is on their mind’.
There is too much political correctness around and people don’t want to say what is on their mind
This sentiment was echoed in another Independent piece which dealt with the facile accusation levelled by some that the Casey vote was motivated by racism: “Instead Peter Casey tapped into a more general frustration. A feeling in many parts of the country that they are not allowed to complain anymore”. This hits the nail on the head.
It so happens that a major survey of American attitudes to political correctness was published only two weeks before which resonates most strongly with this view. In a report “Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape,” the authors found that most Americans share more common ground than the daily fights on social media might suggest—including a general aversion to PC culture.
If you look at what Americans have to say on issues such as immigration, the extent of white privilege, and the prevalence of sexual harassment, the authors argue, seven distinct clusters emerge: progressive activists, traditional liberals, passive liberals, the politically disengaged, moderates, traditional conservatives, and devoted conservatives.
According to the report, 25 percent of Americans are traditional or devoted conservatives, and their views are far outside the American mainstream. Some 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists, and their views are even less typical. By contrast, the two-thirds of Americans who don’t belong to either extreme constitute an “exhausted majority.”
Most members of the “exhausted majority,” dislike political correctness. Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.
Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness—and it turns out race isn’t, either. Progressive activists are the only group that strongly backs political correctness: Only 30 percent see it as a problem.
Only 8 percent of Americans are progressive activists but they strongly favour political correctness
If age and race do not predict support for political correctness, then what does? The report answers: Income and education. So, what does this group look like? Compared with the rest of the (nationally representative) polling sample, progressive activists are much more likely to be rich, highly educated—and white. They are nearly twice as likely as the average to make more than $100,000 a year. They are nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree. With the exception of the small tribe of devoted conservatives, progressive activists are the most racially homogeneous group in the country. This in turn makes it easy for these activists to point the finger at anyone who dares to criticise political correctness as a tool of the right, and it is clear that this charge is levelled in this country as well. The charge is all too easily made in order to dismiss these critics and thereby to refuse to engage in argument on a whole range of issues.
But this is not fair to the great majority of Americans who are deeply alienated by woke culture.
As is familiar to us here, many of these activists are people who call others out if they use “problematic” terms or perpetrate an act of “cultural appropriation.” But what the vast majority of Americans seem to see is not so much genuine concern for social justice as the preening display of cultural superiority.
The Hidden Tribes report supports and reinforces a study one year earlier. The Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, a national poll of 2,300 U.S. adults, finds that “71% Americans believe that political correctness has silenced important discussions our society needs to have”.
The Cato survey found that a solid majority (59%) of Americans think people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, even those deeply offensive to others, a thought which is anathema to the politically correct.
Again, this is a finding which will resonate here.
The two reports taken together uncover some extraordinary facts about progressive activists in the US, which if true here, should give us all food for thought. This group is very small; it is highly educated and perhaps as a result has enormous influence, to the extent that it calls the shots for the vast majority of the population. It seems to set the agenda in the media and in large swathes of the academy and controls the terms of discourse for the exhausted majority. It can determine what is discussed and even more importantly what is not. This is a crucial part: we are frustratingly familiar with the way issues relating to men and boys are rigidly excluded from the national conversation to the extent they are never heard on national media and this goes on year after year. On the other hand, laws and ordinances are routinely promulgated which discriminate against men and boys but there is no discussion whatsoever about them. Truly astonishing.
Any chance of a similar poll being conducted here?
Here is a definition of Political Correctness due to Jordan Peterson:
It is a kind of ideological game and the purpose is twofold: to make the player sound morally superior and to take serious axe-swings at the foundations of our society.
Pick an area of human endeavour; note that the outcomes are not equal, that there is a distribution of success, that some are doing much better than others. Define those who do worse as victims and those who do well as perpetrators. Identify with the victims. Have yourself a set of enemies handy to vent your resentment on. Feel good about it and then endlessly repeat.