For those of you who have been wearing earplugs and bags over your heads for the past few weeks, this is what has happened. The nutshell version is that Bill O'Reilly went on The View, which caused Juan Williams to be fired by NPR. Seems kind of stupid when you put it that way, doesn't it?
Well, it is stupid. Actually "stupid" is the proper word to use as an explanation for the why discourse in our country has become stilted, thanks to the Church of Political Correctness (CPC).
Bill O'Reilly was a guest on The View and said he was against the proposed mosque being built so close to the ground zero site because Muslims killed us on 9/11. Whoppie Goldberg and Joy Behar, after yelling and swearing at their guest, got up and walked out of the interview. What made them so angry?
In statements they've made since the incident, both Behar and Goldberg have said they essentially couldn't just sit there while O'Reilly was painting all Muslims with the same brush. Goldberg continues to assert if all Muslims killed us on 9/11, does that mean Mohamed Ali killed us on 9/11? Of course the answer to that is "no."
So the remedy for O'Reilly's "mistake" was to clarify his statement with one word: "extremists." If he had used that one little word, the whole circus would not have come to town.
I like words. Words are of the utmost importance in my life. I think words have incredible power, and I guess that's why I love them so much. It's important to use the correct word in the correct situation. One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug."
In the case of O'Reilly's statement, the use of the qualifier "extremist" would have been enough to assuage the CPC in Goldberg and Behar. Okay. But I agree with O'Reilly's statement that people know what he meant. When he said, "Muslims killed us on 9/11," he didn't mean every Muslim in the world was involved in the plot to kill us on 9/11, and he thinks America understood that. I believe that's true. Why?
Because I don't think Americans are stupid. I don't think they are such useless morons they couldn't have made the distinction that O'Reilly's statement wasn't meant to include every Muslim on the planet. I believe they are smart enough not to need the qualifier "extremist" to know what O'Reilly meant.
Goldberg's argument (a ham-handed attempt to prove O'Reilly's statement to be wrong) that American terrorist Timothy McVey wasn't a Muslim and nobody runs around saying Christians bombed Oklahoma City is irrelevant to the argument because McVey didn't commit his terroristic attack because of his religious beliefs. For him, it was all about politics. Goldberg's argument is like comparing apples and bicycles.
There are some things that are just true, even if we don't want them to be. And one of those truths is that not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists since 9/11 have been Muslim. It's just true. I'm sorry about that, but it is. But we have become so beholden to the CPC that we can't speak the truth, or act on the truth, at least without fear. That's why 85-year-old Norweigan grandmothers are searched before boarding planes. And that's an example of how far the PC movement reaches. It reaches into our safety and scrambles it up.
I don't want to be hypocritical here. It so often happens that when liberals get caught saying something stupid in public, and the public reacts, they clutch their collective pearls and gasp in surprise and horror that someone would actually take action against a famous person because of something that person said. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, Bruce Springsteen and Sean Penn spring to mind. Maines was shocked and outraged people would burn her CD's and stop buying them after she made a derogatory remark about President Bush. Springsteen saw his concert ticket sales plummet after he made several similar remarks during the 2008 election season. And I, and many other conservatives, will never pay to see a Sean Penn film because we don't want to line his pockets with more money so he can continue his traitorous activities, such as visiting Saddam Hussein weeks prior to the start of the Iraq war.
These celebrities and their fans think it's simply wrong to punish these people with boycotts, etc., for what they say in public. They scream and yell things like, "What happened to free speech?" "This is America. Don't we still have the right to free speech?" What I have always said about these situations is, yes, you still have the Constitutional right to free speech, but what you don't have is protection from any reactions to that speech as long as those reactions aren't from the government and don't involve things like imprisonment. You can talk all you want, but people are allowed to judge you--it's as simple as that.
So I am not saying the left has no right to react to O'Reilly's statement on The View and Juan Williams' subsequent comment about his own private thoughts. They have every right. What I'm saying is that the basis of their reactions is stupid. It stems from left-wing elitists who see themselves as opinion leaders because they are above the mere rabble who might be too stupid to see the nuances in language without everything being spelled out for them.
This argument isn't really about outrage about O'Reilly's statements. It isn't about outrage about Juan Williams' statements. It's really about elitism. The CPC is an elitist group that thinks America's little people can't understand a person's intent without things being absolutely perfectly worded. They understand words have power. Look how far president Obama has gone to erase the word "terrorist" from the American vernacular.
In my opinion, the "progressives" have come full circle. The political correctness religion practiced by most of them has made them the most bigoted, intolerant, narrow-minded group in America. There. I said it.
What began with (I have to try to believe) an honest attempt to stop using speech that was hurtful to individuals or groups has turned into an ugly monster that attempts to devour our right to free speech, stomps on our freedom of expression, and at times, strangles true intellectual discourse.
There was so much good that came out of the PC movement before it became a religion. It stopped people from using the "N-word" to the point where most white people wouldn't be caught dead saying it, and they truly think it's wrong to use that word. That's great. Because it is wrong.
All of the other racial slurs are wrong too. I don't believe in using the kinds of words that hurt people and that are meant to take the targets of the words down and lessen them as human beings. So I do admit the genesis of the PC religion had good intentions and some good results. I'm glad I live in a society in which it's considered socially unacceptable to use racial slurs or, for that matter, to degrade women. A society can only consider itself better if it is in that state of grace.
But, like most ideas the left get a hold of, they took it too far. Like free and reduced price lunches. Great idea. We don't want American school children going hungry. Yay. But then it was free breakfast for every student, regardless of need, free before and after-school programs for children regardless of need, and the pesky habit of teachers and school administrators to think and act as if students are being parented by a bunch of imbeciles who must be shoved aside so schools can raise the children instead, rendering parental choice to secondary status. They just simply go too far.
In an effort to appear tolerant of groups like Muslims (and I truly believe a lot of it is about appearance, like when people said you should vote for Obama because he would change America's image because he's young, black, handsome and captivating), they collectively stomp on Christians. In schools, children learn all about Muslim holidays, Kwanza, etc., but it's not okay to talk about Christmas. The left just can't find balance. It's in their nature to take things to a point of ridiculousness.
Now, in PC land, people aren't allowed to say what they mean without being blasted by the left. If you say something with which they don't agree, or it's outside the boundaries they have set for all of us, you are toast. They are creating a society in which one must speak as they are told or suffer grave consequences. If you don't agree with them, you are labeled. If you speak the truth, you will be labeled. If you think outside the box, you will be punished.
So what started as a movement to stop racial, religious and sexual slurs quickly transformed into the word police. And if you really think about it, I mean really think, you'll discover, as I have, that the reason for most of politically correct speech is because the elitists on the left think the average American is too stupid to sort out an argument unless it is Dick and Jane'd to them.
Now, another "word" moment has happened on The View. Today Joy Behar, in rare form, called congressional candidate Sharron Angle a "bitch" and said she is "going to hell." This is a pretty straighforward statement requiring no additions or translations by the PC Police for the average American to understand it.
But let's see what happens next in this soap opera of words. Juan Williams was fired from his job at NPR because he talked about his own fear of seeing people in Muslim garb at airports. He used no racial slurs and no hate speech, but he was fired immediately.
If I want to skip down the yellow brick road of political correctness, I would label Behar's outburst today as hate speech. I believe that, all things being equal, she should be fired immediately.
Should I hold my breath? I'm told I look good in blue. In the meantime, I guess we all need to tune in tomorrow for another episode of As the Word Turns.