Political Correctness: Ideas in Exile

A victim of political correctness . . . The Martyr of Solway by John Everett Millais
A victim of political correctness . . .
The Martyr of Solway by John Everett Millais

It’s tempting to tsk, tsk at little remembered holidays celebrated in America’s past like POPE’S DAY in Boston. Oh, how intolerant we say. Did they really set aside a day to burn effigies of the Pope? Not the Pope! We may applaud the current pope’s stance on global warming, no cooling, no warming. We may think it’s nice that he lives in modest housing. We may laugh dismissively at his seemingly hypocritical notion that gun manufacturers cannot be Christian (even as he asks why bombs weren’t used sooner on Germany in WWII). But it’s impossible to ignore that at times in history the pope and his minions have ruled with an iron fist. (To be fair here, I don’t believe only Catholic popes rule this way)

It’s hard for us Biblically, theologically and historically illiterate secularists to see what all the fuss was about. As Hillary Clinton might ask, “What difference does it make now?”

I’m not sure. I’m going stream of consciousness today.

But wait.

A sudden qualm.

A dread.

It comes over me as I formulate a post about Irish Catholic immigration in the mid 1850’s and the anti-slavery parties of New England. Will someone be offended that I made a Hillary joke about gun-running allegations? Will people hate me for insulting a woman? Will someone be offended if I say that New England Protestants feared the mass immigration of Catholics because in part their memory was long and they remembered when Protestants were burned for not following human authority?

Might someone dismiss me as a “climate denier” because I hold a healthy skepticism for  scientific and political authorities who have been wrong so many times over the course of history and have often been knowingly deceptive in order to profit on fear? I DON’T WANT TO BE CALLED NAMES. I WANT TO DISCUSS IDEAS. Is this a pipe dream?

HISTORY IS NOT BUNK. Does that statement offend you? I hope, dear reader, that it does not for if it does we are truly doomed in our hyper-sensitivity and ignorance.

Protestants in New England worried what a mass influx of hard-drinking, Pope-following poor people would do to their society because the Pope hadn’t always been this great guy and drinkers can sometimes be a bit of trouble (I know, not all Irish people drink–I’m part Irish). They worried too about crowded cities unprepared to deal with mass poverty and violence. THESE ARE NOT FOOLISH CONCERNS. Do any of us really know what it must have been like to live with the constant threat of disease and the endless amount of funerals for children under the age of five? Have any of you lived next to a rowdy bar? I have–it’s not fun. Don’t look down your noses at human concerns, please. We need compassion. Can we at least try to see that while their fears may have been overblown they were human concerns?

It is true that the media as always wanted to sell papers and novels. If anyone believes journalists and novelists don’t have agendas I respectfully tsk, tsk you. Just as novels and newspapers sold best when stories of slave-owners raping slaves appeared in them, stories about priests raping virginal nuns reaped a hefty profit. The media machine is only impartial in the sense that it finds whatever position best helps line it’s pockets. That position is usually one of fear and hate mongering. Now there are thoughtful papers that come and go from time to time but they don’t make money and no one reads them.

The shock to American society (especially in the North) was huge as the Irish poor fleeing an engineered famine (a great way to consolidate land for powerful elite) swarmed cities and joined the Democratic party (mainly because they saw in the Whig party a Puritan value system they didn’t like and because their friends led them).

So here’s the thing: At one time the pope and the monarchs the pope liked ruled Europe. If you did something as a monarch to piss off the pope he threatened excommunicating the whole country. To us moderns this seems silly. We’d just say F***-off and move on, but back then people–regular people–wanted their kids baptized by the church–THE CATHOLIC CHURCH because they were told their babies couldn’t be saved  any other way. We can tsk, tsk again at how dumb they were as future people will probably laugh at stories published in the 1970’s about oil being gone by the 1980’s.

Once the Bible became available to people some of them read it and some of them questioned the rules forced upon them by the authorities. Question the authorities? Question the thought police? They must have been mad! But no matter. They were dead soon enough. Dead or gone.

Gone sailing to the rocky shores of New England to live quiet, harsh and cold lives as outcasts and pilgrims who dared protest against thought police and the cruelty and injustice of what must follow.

Winslow Homer Nor'easter
Winslow Homer Nor’easter

17 thoughts on “Political Correctness: Ideas in Exile

  1. History is definitely not bunk and I suspect it will judge our generation one day and see us as a generation being tossed about by forces we didn’t even bother to understand.

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    • There has always been an anti-intellectual element to American democracy (I suspect their are anti-intellectuals world wide) but the pride taken in stupidity and shock seems to know no bounds.

      It would be easy to blame thug culture or pop culture for anti-intellectualism but for two things: 1. The “smart” people are the ones who decide what gets out to the waiting public (there are many great musicians who don’t play to the lowest common denominator but they don’t get deals) and 2. it was the intellectuals who decided that public schools needed to lower their standards to appeal to the kids who had no interest in learning. Once schools and after-school programs took charge of the kids’ indoctrination (not to mention the Disney channel and cell phone) any interest in deep thought was buried beneath a pile of feel-good, light-weight and over sugared crap (sprinkled with a hatred for dead white men). Teachers, for all their good intentions can’t make kids smart by begging. Parents are more concerned with good grades than actual education anyway. (wow, that sounded bitter)

      A vast simplification and generalization coming from a former teacher and parent, of course but . . .

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      • –>It would be easy to blame thug culture or pop culture for anti-intellectualism but for two things: 1. The “smart” people are the ones who decide what gets out to the waiting public (there are many great musicians who don’t play to the lowest common denominator but they don’t get deals) and 2. it was the intellectuals who decided that public schools needed to lower their standards to appeal to the kids who had no interest in learning. Once schools and after-school programs took charge of the kids’ indoctrination (not to mention the Disney channel and cell phone) any interest in deep thought was buried beneath a pile of feel-good, light-weight and over sugared crap (sprinkled with a hatred for dead white men). Teachers, for all their good intentions can’t make kids smart by begging. Parents are more concerned with good grades than actual education anyway. (wow, that sounded bitter)

        I think it all comes down to a flawed view of human nature. If people are basically good, then all you need is to encourage them enough and they’ll be fine. If they are basically bad, ain’t nothin’ you can do about it anyway so why bother.

        When I was studying philosophy, there was a lot of debate in some of my classes about whether humanity was basically good or basically bad, but the idea of humanity as good but broken was never brought up. And it’s this lack of nuance in our view of human nature that lies at the core of all this. (Just my two cents, by the way.)

        And as I’ve said before, this is the point of Christian doctrine that seems so patently obvious to me now. (It didn’t back then!) Of course, I think other religions/philosophies do sometimes have a similar view but they differ in important details. For example, some versions of Hinduism think that people are basically good but they have forgotten very important things. In this case, the cause of our brokenness is ignorance. For the Christian it’s not ignorance but a problem of the will – whether my individual will or the will of my ancestors (i.e. Adam and Eve). And that difference changes a lot of the answers you give to a lot of questions!

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    • If only we really had some say in who gets elected. Even if we did would the public like someone who actually told the truth and was brave? I hope we would embrace that candidate, but they’d need a lot of body guards.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve ranted on this subject many times but I will summarize. The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre spurred religious freedom and the Catholic Church was obviously the villainous empire. The rapid rise of Catholics in power and the constant media coverage favorable to the Vatican — brings to mind Orwell’s 1984. Many politicians have courted the Catholic vote and have favored emigration to increase political power. Catholic theology isn’t the problem or ethnicity — the problem comes from centralized power. Dictators want their people to control the guns.

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    • Agreed. Just read a bit about the massacre–extremely interesting. I’m not a big prophecy person but it is so weird how the world seems bent on fulfilling things. maybe every generation feels the same. I guess the one truth is what you said: there is a constant battle for authority in this world (and the next).

      You always send good things my way–thanks!

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  3. The propensity for taking offence these days is, I believe, the world’s biggest problem, alongside a lack of education and a disinclination, as Erik says, to bother with knowledge. Excellent post, Adrienne.

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  4. Ideas, philosophical and religious convictions, and the freedom to politely and intelligently express legitimate concerns or views have been smothered by political correctness, social media and a thin understanding of history or a willingness to listen or take time to understand anything but the most elementary of arguments.

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  5. “I DON’T WANT TO BE CALLED NAMES. I WANT TO DISCUSS IDEAS. Is this a pipe dream?”

    I hope not. But then,

    “The media machine is only impartial in the sense that it finds whatever position best helps line it’s pockets. That position is usually one of fear and hate mongering. Now there are thoughtful papers that come and go from time to time but they don’t make money and no one reads them.”

    No matter, we should continue to try…

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    • I agree! “We should continue to try” not because we’re assured victory, but because standing against tyrants is what humans should do.
      As a Christian I believe the world system will always work to bring conflict, but we have an assurance that transcends the petty and dangerous thought police.

      In America people love accusing others of being like Hitler when they disagree. What’s funny is that they don’t realize it wasn’t just Hitler but a society controlled by thought police. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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