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home : opinion : columnists August 29, 2016


2/13/2013 1:36:00 PM
Political correctness threatens our freedom

Bill Forhan
Publisher


Dr. Benjamin Carson apologized profusely at the National Prayer Breakfast last week because he said he didn't want to offend anybody but in America today it was impossible not to. And then he proceeded to make the case that we have lost our way.

Dr. Carson, who is the Director of Pediatric Neurology at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore said, "People walk around these days with their feelings on their shoulders just waiting for you to say something so they say - aahh! Did you hear that? Then they can't hear anything else you say."

According to Dr. Carson we have reached the point where people are afraid to talk about important issues because somebody might be offended. Political correctness is dangerous because it prevents us from having important discussions about the issues that are tearing apart the fabric of our country. Our country was founded on the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of thought but political correctness prevents us from having those important discussions because it casts a chill on everything we say.

It's an issue that I have witnessed for some time but have not been able to find the words to express my concern. Those who read my column regularly seem to love it or hate it. There is very little middle ground.

And yet, as Dr. Carson observed during his speech, there is often little difference between us in what it is we hope to accomplish. What is often different is how we propose to accomplish our common vision.

Our founding fathers gave us a system for divining solutions to our problems. A system that has worked well for well over two centuries, but that system depends on an informed, educated and engaged populace.

We can rail against a biased media. Blame our lack of understanding of the issues on our politicians and demean those with whom we disagree, but in the end that does little to help us develop solutions we can all support. What it does accomplish is to drive all of us further apart as we burden each other with systems, laws and regulations that are designed to punish those with whom we disagree instead of encourage behaviors that are mutually beneficial.

We live in the information age but sometimes it appears it is the disinformation age. Those who oppose a certain course of action, regardless which side of the aisle they may sit on, will often resort to any means in order to win the argument. That includes twisting and distorting the facts rather than consider they may actually be wrong. Our individual prejudice clouds our vision to the point that we cannot even consider a different point of view.

And political correctness exacerbates that problem. Consider for a moment the emotionally charged issue of racism. It is a universal issue not unique to Americans, but to listen to many today only white people are racist. You are considered racist if you say that programs like affirmative action are also racist. That they promote further division and a culture of entitlement and victimization that promotes hatred of whites by minorities.

While it may be true that some people who make that argument are in fact racist, it is not universally true that those who question the efficacy of these programs are all racist. They might simply be looking for a more balanced solution to dealing with a vital societal issue.

Dr. Carson is absolutely right that political correctness is a serious threat to our society and our way of life. We must all learn to take the chip off of our shoulders and discuss the issues of the day in a calm, thorough and honest way. We must be willing to listen to each other with respect and learn to recognize that it is our diversity that makes us stronger not our universal expression of a single idea.

Near the end of his speech Dr. Carson reminds us of our national symbol - the proud and magnificent bald eagle. The eagle is able to fly high and fast he says because he has two wings - a right wing and a left wing.

The message is clear. If we truly want to restore the greatness of our country we need both wings working in harmony.

If you would like to hear all of Dr. Carson's speech you will find it on our web site under the opinion section.

Bill Forhan can be reached at 509-548-5286 or publisher@leavenworthecho.com.





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