How the alt-right co-opted the anti-PC label

politically-correctThe Guardian, in “Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy“, traces the term “politically correct” from its emergence in American leftist circles in the 1960s and 1970s

“Politically correct” became a kind of in-joke among American leftists – something you called a fellow leftist when you thought he or she was being self-righteous. The term was always used ironically…always calling attention to possible dogmatism.

…to the network of donors who funded decades of anti-PC activity – the Kochs, the Olins, the Scaifes …

In truth, these crusaders against political correctness were every bit as political as their opponents.

…to its appropriation by @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart.

First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero. The notion that Trump was both persecuted and heroic was crucial to his emotional appeal. It allowed people who were struggling economically or angry about the way society was changing to see themselves in him, battling against a rigged system that made them feel powerless and devalued. At the same time, Trump’s swagger promised that they were strong and entitled to glory. They were great and would be great again.

Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness – he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited.

So here is a piece of irony to consider: when Trump’s political party enters the White House,  will everything Trump says now be, by definition, “politically correct”?


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