Let’s imagine two scenarios.
In the first, we have a college student who joked about his looks, calling himself handsome in his Chinese class. For this sarcastic comment alone, he was forced to undergo months of bureaucratic punishment because students in the class took offense to the joke he made about himself. He was reported to the “Gender-Based Misconduct Office” that mandated he be “re-educated” because the case manager deemed his remarks as a classic example of white privilege.
In our second scenario, a national news agency sends a reporter to Chinatown in New York, where he exclusively targets elderly Chinese people by asking them their thoughts on the election, then mocks them for their inability to speak English. All the while, he is littering the segment with references to Karate Kid and other common Asian stereotypes.
Now, the first scenario is the classic example of political correctness gone too far — a college student who joked about his looks and was sent to the college administrators. This wasn’t a joke about minorities; not a joke playing on the prejudices of people watching a national television segment. This was a college student who joked about his own appearance.
The second scenario is an example of playing on racial stereotypes and exploiting minorities for a cheap joke. Instead of doing an in-depth and consequential analysis of what the Asian American community thought of the current political climate, Fox News targeted the older Asian community because they saw them as a demographic that’s easy to pick on. Their only defense for their actions was simply “The country needs to stop being so sensitive.” As if the ubiquitous negative reaction to their overt racism could simply be attributed to the growing trend of political correctness.
Unfortunately, both of these scenarios are real. America is a place where some feel the need to report someone who calls himself handsome while others hand wave a news studio’s racist segment.
There is a difference between political correctness and being borderline racist. The true debate is whether it’s a fine line or a gray area.
Political correctness is a controversial topic; words can hurt people. Even the strongest of people can be brought down with a sentence. Nobody wants to be called names, especially when it comes to race and religion. Imagine if every day you were called a racial epithet, attacked or mistrusted because of your religion or perhaps you were denied certain things because of who you are.
The real issue is that political correctness goes too far when it comes to countering racism. The original intent of political correctness, to inspire tact and sensitivity to other’s plights, has led to a crusade against anything that can be deemed offensive. However, instead of dealing with topics like race, religion and sex with tact and sensitivity, we tend to avoid these conversations completely. This becomes a common effect of political correctness; because we no longer have the ability to deal with these topics without thinking we are going to offend someone.
There is a difference between flouting the authority of the PC Police and actually being racist. The Chinatown segment, ran by Fox News’ Jesse Watters, was the classic case of actual racism.
Because they picked on people who could not defend themselves. They picked on elderly Chinese people who did not know English, and littered the segment with outdated references to a Japanese, not even Chinese, movie. They humiliated people because of their ethnicity. Instead of looking to learn about what Asian Americans think of the 2016 election, they went looking for a cheap racist joke.
Some of the defendants may claim the entire thing was about being light-hearted and opening up a conversation. That unlike political correctness, which is ensuring that we never talk about these topics, it’s creating a space for discussion.
Cheap jokes at the expense of elderly minorities who actually might have an opinion on the subject is racism. Adhering to overly politically correct rules might ensure we never had this conversation in the first place. But what Jesse Watters did was truly offensive. No resulting conversation can justify