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Political Correctness is Really Moral Correctness

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Political Correctness is Really Moral Correctness

By Barry Goldstein



Political Correctness Is Really Moral Correctness

The men in the batterer classes I teach often seek to justify the offensive terms they use for women by saying they don’t support political correctness. In reality, language places women in jeopardy.  Research about batterer narratives found most abusers would say it is wrong for a man to hit a woman.  And then they say EXCEPT…   The most common exception is if she is a (insert the slur).  So when someone calls a woman a morally incorrect term many abusers believe this gives them justification for hitting her.


Political correctness can mean very different things to different people but generally involves offensive language or behavior directed against members of groups that have a long history of being mistreated by people with unearned privileges. The mistreatment is generally based on ignorance, bias and stereotypes.


As society has sought to move forward and end long- tolerated bias and discrimination, progress is usually followed by a backlash from those who can’t tolerate fairer treatment for long- oppressed groups. Thus male supremacists have organized to manipulate custody courts in order to maintain what they believe is man’s privilege to control their intimate partners. After the civil rights laws passed in the 1960s, white supremacists complained that blacks had too much power after the unearned white advantage was narrowed.


Missed Opportunity


Slavery and the long period of legal segregation represents a huge stain on the reputation and history of the United States. The human impact from this moral failing is incomprehensible.  Many people were excited when Barack Obama became the first black man elected President of the United States. Aside from his talents and abilities, his election represented a huge opportunity to heal some of the racial animus that still existed and to move toward a more humane and moral society.


New presidents typically receive an initial honeymoon period where the opposition party tries to cooperate as much as they feel they can. There was a strong moral imperative for Republicans to provide initial respect and support for our first black President. This was especially true given the economic emergency that confronted the country. Instead Republican leaders pledged to do everything possible to cause President Obama to fail, and their actions supported these threats. It appears they felt a need to appeal to their base, which included white supremacists who were motivated by thinly veiled appeals to racial hatred.


Obviously most Republicans disagree with the President’s political views and policies, but much of the opposition was clearly fueled by racial animus.  Baseless claims that President Obama was not born in the United States or that he was Muslim can only be explained by racial hatred.  The numerous racial slurs and attacks based on racial stereotypes leave no doubt about the motivation of many of his most angry attackers.  


One Republican leader who demonstrated the courage and integrity to challenge racist attacks against then- Senator Obama was John McCain. During the heat of the 2008 Presidential election, a woman in the audience expressed fear of Senator Obama and said she heard he was an Arab.  Senator McCain took the microphone from the woman and explained that his opponent is a decent family man and they just have differences on various policies.  At another campaign appearance McCain told his supporters they did not need not fear Barack Obama serving as President. John McCain was not being politically correct. He was being morally correct and patriotic.

The Presidential Campaign Takes Moral Incorrectness to New Lows


It should come as no surprise that a political party that uses code words to support white supremacy and misogyny would have presidential candidates who openly attack what they call political correctness. Donald Trump has repeatedly made offensive comments that promoted hatred against women, immigrants and other marginalized groups. Ted Cruz has railed against political correctness and recently supported state laws that seek to encourage discrimination against the LGBT community. Trump attacked the decision to place Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill as political correctness.


I often notice letters to the editor that start, “I don’t understand…” and go on to attack efforts to eliminate discrimination and mistreatment. The writers intend to say these positions are wrong, but they are more accurate and literally correct that they don’t understand. In a society with a long history of support for offensive and oppressive positions it is all too easy for people to make offensive statements without realizing they are doing so. Good people sometimes make offensive comments. We must consciously seek to avoid such hateful remarks and think before speaking in order to speak and act in a morally correct manner.


Accordingly, I can understand how Trump, Cruz and so many others could make these offensive statements. Far worse are attempts to justify words and actions that are based on white supremacy and male supremacy. This is the essence of attacking “political correctness.”  


It is not a pretty sight when a billionaire achieves moral bankruptcy.


The Consequences of Moral Incorrectness


In Texas, an abusive father who was still given shared parenting searched for his ex-wife by going to her sister’s home. He brutally executed her sister and brother-in-law and shot their four children in the head.  One daughter miraculously survived and courageously called the police to prevent additional murders in her family.


In Connecticut, the court gave access to an abusive father over the mother’s objections, which he used to throw their baby off the bridge to his death. In Florida it was an abusive father with sole custody who threw a five-year-old girl off a bridge in Tampa.


In California a terrified mother begged the judge to protect her baby from an abusive father threatening to kill her son. The judge said he thought the mother was lying and gave the father the access he needed to kill the child. In Harrison, New York, a recently retired and highly honored police officer shot and killed his two teenage daughters after their mother announced she wanted a separation.


These are not rare exceptions. In a recent two-year period, researchers found news stories about 175 children murdered by fathers involved in contested custody cases. Every year more than 1000 women are murdered by their intimate partners. The abusers believe women are less valuable than men and have no right to leave them. Many of the children were murdered because the father believed it was the best way to hurt and punish the mother.


We are talking about moral correctness, not political correctness. The hateful and offensive language and tolerance for mistreating disfavored groups of human beings have consequences.


Moral correctness is enormously important when we select our leaders. I try not to take sides in partisan political debates because I believe Republicans and Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives can and should cooperate in the work to stop domestic violence and child abuse.  


Every cursed day I hear about tragedies like the ones described above that could have been prevented.  And I read about what a US Department of Justice Study called harmful outcome cases. These are extreme results in which courts fail to recognize true reports of abuse, force children to live with abusers, and deny the children any meaningful relationship with safe, loving and protective mothers. I have spoken to the mothers and the children. I know the pain is incredible and the loss to our country is beyond comprehension.


We know how to stop most domestic violence crime and especially murders. The proven practices in the Quincy Solution have dramatically reduced domestic violence in the communities that implemented these practices. The Quincy Solution and the Safe Child Act will dramatically reduce child abuse and especially the murders that occur when courts using practices from the 1970s routinely fail to protect children. I believe it should be easy for Republicans and Democrats to agree that the health and safety of children should be the first priority in all custody and visitation decisions.


The Quincy Solution will reduce crime, improve the economy, save the US $500 billion annually and make women and children safe in their homes. We need to elect leaders who believe in moral correctness because only they can bring the blessings that include a huge reduction in violence to our nation. Those who deliberately seek to minimize respectful and inclusive approaches should be viewed as having disqualified themselves from consideration for public office.  The cost of moral incorrectness is just too high.


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