For Bill Maher, political correctness is a pretty big problem — meaning it’s not just a finger wag anymore. In just a few short years, political incorrectness has gone from being the impolite thing to say, to speech that draws a mob.
Recently, Bill Maher pointed to the example of astronaut Scott Kelly, who was bombarded with opposition for simply quoting former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a morning tweet.
By that afternoon, his tweet garnered so much controversy that Kelly felt the need to backtrack on a simple statement.
As Maher points out, despite Churchill having defeated the Nazis and Kelly having been an astronaut, the politically correct mob could not — and would not — tolerate reference to a historical figure who’s posthumously seen as a monster and punished for views he held three quarters of a century ago.
The problem with the rabidity of the political correctness of the hour is that it’s advanced to a state of zero tolerance for any deviant narrative.
There is no more tolerance for exemplary figures in human history who have defeated far more under grueling odds than most of those who raise pitch forks today against “insensitive” speech. There is no compassion for the fact that people are simply people, and our understanding of them is filtered through the stunning but brief moments in which they are memorialized in the amber of history.
In short, there is no gratitude for what they have accomplished and no space for vulnerability that they were imperfect humans during a period in time where they were not endowed the understanding of human rights of the 21st century.
This did not spring on us by surprise. Intolerance toward human history began fading as statues were toppled and removed from public sphere because people no longer felt comfortable with their presence. The argument at large was that these figures, namely Confederate leaders during the American Civil War no longer represented us — and they don’t. They haven’t for a really long time. Yet, rather than an emphasis on who we are today and how we could shape our futures, the mob instead turned on the past.
Then it turned on the present.
The response to politically incorrect speech is no longer a Victorian-era finger wag of disapproval, a tut-tut. Instead, it is a harpy cry — a hysterical grievance against not just past figures but also present personalities. Any deviance from the infantilizing or coddling of emotions is seen as violent or abusive. Any blunt speech or assertiveness is seen as aggression, and often without any substantial context or self-reflection other than an accusation that some emotional or psychological wound as been inflicted.
The truth is the mob is triggered by any reality that destabilizes their own fragile world view. Truth has become a concept that is rejected if it is emotionally unsettling.
In an Atlantic article titled “Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture,” Harvard professor Yascha Mounk places the mob as central players in an increasingly polarizing landscape, as a group that self-identifies as woke. “Woke” is slang for being socially conscious. Mounk categorizes what he calls “Team Woke” as “likely to be female, and predominantly black, brown or Asian (though white “allies” do their dutiful part.)”
As Muslim Reformers, we deal with Team Woke daily, those who often railroad us for not being sensitive to the dribbling emotions of grievance mongers who, under a catch-22 philosophy, will find something to be grieved about no matter how one maneuvers through the thick intellectually dishonest, emotionally feeble, utterly self-involved rhetoric that goes so far now as to silence (and if possible, crush) any opinion or person who makes the mob feel uncomfortable.
Ironically, what Team Woke refuses to be “woke” about are the present day threats from living figures who wish, take joy in or actively work to inflict actual harm on the free world: the fundamentalists, Islamists and jihadists. Maybe it’s just easier for them to hold dead people accountable and strong-arm everyday citizens through social bullying than it is to do the actual hard work and go up against the real monsters.
Yet, when I held the most instrumental world-shaping leaders to the same litmus test as Winston Churchill, Gandhi or confederate generals — when I with nuance held Prophet Muhammad to the standards of human dignity in the 21st century — the mob came for me too.