I was just treated to an interesting colloquy between someone who has been my friend for many years and a group of young people that he works with in a youth and government program. Since I am somewhat older that this gentleman (let’s call him Bob), I can kind of see where he and the young people are coming from.
It all began when Bob wrote on his Facebook page, that he was astounded that the internet and its children allow foul language to abound. Yet he says, we are into political correctness when it comes to the name of the pro football Washington Redskins. I could see that he was very angry at what he thought were hypocritical contradictions in not being incensed about the foul language, but be troubled by the name of the football team.
The young people countered with arguments about how the foul language is a person’s choice and does not seem to hurt anyone, except maybe their feelings. However, the term Redskins is a somewhat vulgar reminder of what we have done to Native Americans throughout history. This is not political correctness, but a slam against an entire ethnic group.
Counter arguments were made about how short people might be offended by jokes about ones height and other kinds of physical descriptions. The answers were that someone who is offended by being called a negative about their height did not go through the years of discrimination against Native Americans and their death at the hands of our ancestors.
As you can see, this was something that meant a great deal to both parties. I do understand Bob’s feelings about not using the words Oriental, or Indian, or other current terminology. We have been using those words for most of our lives and it is hard to condition yourself to use the term issues, rather than the word, problems.
I am wondering if the generation that preceded us had the same kind of problem (notice I am using that word). I can recall when all of the new dances of the 1950’s started to become popular. My mom thought that they were awful, as were the names. They were not the Rhumba, Foxtrot or Tango. They were just garbage dances invented to make someone money. Yup, they were.
We also had to get used to using new names for groups of people. We could not use Kraut, or Jap, or Mick or Wop, or Chink or Spic or Polack. Some people were saddened that they could no longer use the words Kike or Sheeny. If you believe that was the beginning of political correctness, you are probably correct. In other 20 or so years, the current vernacular will change and the youngsters of today will probably not like it.