Thursday, January 14, 2016

Political Correctness - A Real Threat?

If voter testimony is to be believed, the success of Donald Trump (and before him, Ben Carson) rests strongly on the rejection and resistance to Political Correctness--as though the idea that the biggest problems facing our nation was that some people want us to treat each other with respect.

The bastards!

But what if the opponents of political correctness actually have a point--what if the social force behind political correctness was doing something, such as, for example, causing women who were sexually assaulted not to come forward? We wouldn't like that, right? Could that be happening?

The broader critics of PC claim that PC doesn't just change our word choice from "dis" to "differently"-abled--but that it rather creates a social barrier to certain kinds of thought processes with serious, real-world consequences for breaching it. For example:

  • The study of the intersection of biology and sociology, especially with respect to race, is forbidden science.
  • Positions that are unpopular with PC are not just shouted down--but you can be fired for saying the wrong thing--even if your speech is intended to be private!
  • The forces behind political correctness intend to blind us to dangerous realities about, say, the criminality of a darker-skinned ethnic group--or the murderous intentions of religious terrorists.
The problem for the above isn't the lack of a few specific instances (the CTO of Mozilla left after it was revealed that he donated to an anti-Same Sex Marriage action group)--but rather the serious lack of a coordinated big-picture. For example, yes--people have been fired for their speech--but these are general anomalies and not part of a massive trend. 

There may have been verified instances of black people trying to "punch out" innocent (white) passerby--the so-called Polar Bear Game--but the attention paid to these in some media is vastly over-stated. Rather than political correctness being a cover-up, it's racism promoting a story beyond its actual impact.

On The Other Hand

There is apparently a name for a practice in the Arab world of large groups of men encircling and sexually assaulting women. It is, allegedly, called Taharrush Gamea and is something of a . . . erm . . . sport? If you remember the female reporter attacked in Tahir Square a few years ago, this seems to be the same thing. 

Right now it is hard to confirm that such a 'tradition' really exists--almost all the discussion is on right-wing sites which have a lot more confirmation-bias. However, what we do know is that the attacks were similar in nature (to Tahir square) and wide-spread across multiple cities. The evidence we have thus far is that the participants were likely refugees (and if they were not, that might make it much, much worse).

What if this event is an actual, coordinated cultural attack? What if it is exactly the sort of thing that the right-wing predicted when they said letting millions of Muslims into the country would cause things like this--if not outright terrorism? What if that were the case--and the politically correct cultural forces ignored it?

What then?

1. The Magnitude Of The Threat Should Not Be Understated

The major unanswered question the Omnivore has asked is "was this coordinated?" Presumably social media should give us clues to the event. Who is looking at that--who already has? What have they found? If it was coordinated that's bad--very bad--if it was not--unless we have been misled about the scope, that is much, much worse. Flash rape-mobs (we could say sexual-harassment mobs--but why bother splitting that hair) are the stuff of nightmares.

Secondly, the methodology is designed to overwhelm police and prevent individuals from being incarcerated. The Omnivore has been critical of "no go zones" (there are effectively "no go zones" in the US too, apparently--but the problem seems to be presented in a questionable fashion by the right)--but this gives more credence to the idea that a sizable community can, essentially, stand off the police.

This does not compare to the Bundy guys out in the Bird Sanctuary--they are breaking the law--but they are not actively engaged in assault (unless you maybe count "with each other").

2. We Know That There Are Cultural Sensitivities In Play

Given this--and the appearance of a police cover-up in Germany and elsewhere--why shouldn't we assume the worst is at least plausible?

Is Political Correctness The Problem?

We have a situation where it appears that a PC-protected minority (Syrians, Muslim refugees) have some subset of themselves acting badly--and the authorities are keeping it quiet and the newspapers are reluctant to call this out--are we seeing a poison spreading under the cover of Political Correctness?

Kind of.

There are other factors at play. Firstly, the reason soldiers are told not to intervene with Afghan-allies child abuse is not because of the military's cultural sensitivity--it is because we need them as allies and interfering would immediately damage the mission. This isn't PC--it's a (terrible) conundrum. 

Similarly, with the pedophiles, problem is that there is a small subset of gangsters--but the police assess that retribution will fall on everyone of the ethnicity. In other words, they are trying to "cover up" some crime to prevent other crimes. This isn't the whole story: fear of accusations of racism may have played into the decision. It is more likely that the police made a choice towards more community stability--at the cost of children.

These kinds of tradeoffs are not so much politically correct as mercenary and utilitarian and they should in no way be celebrated--but they must be acknowledged as different things.

Where does this leave us?

It leaves us with a problem--to which we thankfully have a solution--don't admit (A) that many refugees, (B) don't settle them in massive encampments and (C) be more careful about who you do admit. The kinds of people who willing immigrate to the west are, very likely, different than the kind of people who leave when barrel bombs are being dropped on them.

But there's also a (D): Don't pretend that cultural differences aren't real and can be problematic. Islamic support for suicide bombing and honor killing isn't exactly at an all time high in the Muslim world--but it sure isn't zero-percent. There are places making big strides in, for example, gender-equality in the Middle East--but there are also a lot of places where there are "religious police" who serve to keep women (and gays) down.

These ideas enjoy popular support--and there is no reason to think they should be dropped due to a crisis that causes immigration.

The role that Political Correctness plays in this is not the risk-evaluation of calling out the behavior but rather the secondary-effects where, in a void created by lack of official response, blue-teamers adopt a position that is counter to reality--and then propagate that due to jersyism.

People who don't want all Muslims to be thought of as terrorists need to start saying that Middle-Easter-Muslim-Terrorism is actually a thing--and that it is cloaked in Islam. They need to understand that this view is as legitimate as a theological splinter gets--that it has sufficient basis to be a real blight on Islam--and that despite that, it enjoys sufficient support to be scary.

That will lead to some unpleasant blue-team conclusions--but it turns out the risk-assessment of keeping quiet about these issues is pretty conclusively getting it wrong in the long-game.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t think the police were trying to cover up the child rapes in Rotherham out of fear of provoking white pogroms against Asians. Even after the full scale of the rapes was revealed, there were no such pogroms or attempted pogroms.

    I think a major factor in the police suppression of the crime wave was the Macpherson Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Lawrence was a black teenager brutally stabbed to death by a group of white teenagers in south east London in 1993. The original police investigation into Lawrence’s murder was badly botched, resulting in the suspects going free. The Macpherson Report into the case declared that the police were “institutionally racist” - that is, even if no one in the entire police service was racist, and there were no police procedures which were in any way racist, and there was no evidence of racism at any level of police operations, there was still a kind of metaphysical racism built into the very existence of the police as an institution. I think it’s reasonable to describe this narrative as a form of political correctness.

    The south London police really did behave terribly in the Lawrence case, probably more because of corruption than racism: the father of one of the suspects was a local drug smuggler known to be bribing local police officers. Nonetheless, post-Macpherson, all UK police forces were incredibly sensitive to the institutional racism charge, especially since Macpherson had set no standard by which they could ever show they weren’t institutionally racist. In this climate, the emergence of a heinous crime wave apparently limited to one ethnic minority was the police’s worst nightmare. If they revealed it, there were many waiting in the wings prepared to weaponise the apparent ethnic disparity as a way to profitably attack the police. Read about the career of Lee Jasper to get a sense of how unscrupulously some people have behaved.