Every once in awhile, I have thoughts and feelings that I am somewhat ashamed of. In essence, I feel like my progressive card is going to be pulled and ripped into shreds. When I think about political correctness I feel like I am having one of those moments. I hate to use a broad brush because most aspects of the PC movement have been positive. We don’t use offensive terms to label nearly as much as we used to. That’s a good thing.
On the other hand, it has stifled open discussion and in doing so, allowed some horrible people to hide behind PC. Perhaps, more importantly, it has also allowed many of us to feel like we are horrible people inside because that open dialogue does not exist. Without that open dialogue, we cannot differentiate between people that have legitimate concerns and those that are truly monsters. Personally, I would say we are better off knowing who the monsters are and where they are.
Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling have forced their way into the news cycle because of various opinions on race that they have. Now, the degree to which they are horrible obviously depends on your perspective. It also depends on the relative influence each has. Bundy plays the every man fighting the big bad government. All the while, he is voicing his opinion about this and that and forcing every prominent conservative to back peddle faster than an NFL corner back.
Meanwhile, Sterling only seemed to confirm (allegedly) what people in Los Angeles already knew. As an owner of properties, he has allegedly discriminated against minorities in the way he has treated tenants and in whether he allowed people to rent in the first place. He has also been sued several times for sexual harassment. He truly seems to be an all around bad guy. As distasteful as it all is, at least we know now where these two guys are coming from. All of us can compare our own feelings to their feelings and somehow gauge where we stand on the horrible continuum.
I had one of those moments when I read the Chronicle’s school ratings this Sunday. It was amazing the correlation between the ratings and the locations of the schools. The bottom eight high schools were all either in HISD or controlled by HISD (North Forest High School). We are obviously talking about communities that are highly economically disadvantaged and overwhelmingly minority.
This is where stifling open discussion (as PC has helped do) is really a dangerous thing. The Cliven Bundys and Donald Sterlings of the world have made their conclusions as to why this is. Those folks should be free to make their proclamations, but the rest of us need to chime in too. In education, this is a fundamental issue that goes back to segregation and it appears to be an issue that is no closer to resolution than it was then.
A position of silence is a position of resignation. If nothing else, we should ask the question of why? Is this a systemic failure and if it is then how can the system change to make things better? Is this a cultural failure? Sometimes I want to scream from the rooftops that rude, obnoxious, and boorish behavior is not a cultural norm. It should not be accepted as such. Ignorance and failure is also not a cultural norm. We cannot resign ourselves to that. Somehow, that seems to be more bigoted than speaking up and demanding better.
So, whether we are talking about education, the war on drugs, crime in general, or the attitudes of an aging NBA owner, we need to actually talk about it. We need to get out all of our feelings no matter how dark we may think they are. People like Sterling and Bundy should know that their opinions have consequences.
However, it is criminal for the NBA to completely throw the book at Sterling for what he said while they completely ignored what he did for over 20 years. What you do is always more important than what you say. As for Bundy, the fact that he thumbed his nose up at the government of the course of his lifetime should have said it all. It’s funny how what we say seems to carry more weight than what we do. I guess that is world we live in.