Even before Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, we knew we weren’t getting a kinder and gentler man in the Oval Office. In 2011, when announcing that he may eventually run for president, Trump launched the birther conspiracy, questioning whether President Obama had even been born in the United States. Trump demanded that Obama release his college transcript to prove he wasn’t a “terrible student.”
Most of us rolled our eyes, knowing this conspiracy wasn’t going to get any traction. But then, during a rally in South Carolina in July 2016, Trump revealed that personal attacks weren’t reserved for politicians. It was then that he mocked the physical appearance of disabled Washington Post reporter Serge Kovaleski, who pointed out a lie the candidate shared on the campaign stump.
So it wasn’t surprising that this real estate tycoon — with no governing experience at any level — made his campaign about ending political correctness. Remember what that is? It’s going out of your way to not mock people who are disabled, to not further disenfranchise minorities, to not insult people who are social disadvantaged or discriminated against. It’s basic kindness, the kind taught in Sunday School.
“…This political correctness is just absolutely killing us as a country,” Trump said on “Meet the Press” in August 2015. “You can’t say anything. Anything you say today, they’ll find a reason why it’s not good.”
And the rest is history.
President Trump, whether he knows it or not, whether he cares or not, has spent the last three and a half years as the poster child for the Ugly American, the stereotype of the American abroad who is rude, demanding and culturally insensitive. And by making political correctness a target, he seemed to have succeeded at giving his followers free license to unleash their anger and hate and vile attacks upon fellow citizens — without repercussion — just like he does.
Who can forget the hundred white nationalists who carried torches in Charlottesville, chanting “blood and soil,” a Nazi slogan about ethnicity being based on blood descent and the territory you control?
Just in the past three months we’ve seen grown men and women throw tantrums on camera, screaming and waving guns around, just because they don’t want to be told to wear masks.
Many of our fellow Americans are no longer even pretending to use their conscience to make decisions. Perhaps they believe that when the commander in chief revoked political correctness, they were given permission to be unkind. Perhaps in light of the cataclysmic drama unfolding before us, in all sectors of public and personal life, they feel justified to do as they please. After all, in a disaster it’s every man for himself.
Perhaps by now some of us may have become tone deaf to the president’s spitefulness. It’s expected, so we turn down the volume or fast forward or just stew in our own disgust as we watch him attack, attack and attack some more. We’ve been witnessing an escalating unkindness displayed by his political allies and supporters across the country toward anyone who questions the president — especially the media, which serves as a checks-and-balance to preserve fairness in all levels of government.
The media is not an enemy of the state. People who oppose Trump’s agenda are not enemies of the state.
What is true is that this “us-versus- them” thinking does not move America forward.
It’s time to take a stand against the corruption of public morals. Let’s reinstill kindness, decency and, yes, political correctness, back into the heart of America. I believe the foundation of our nation is a consciousness that is kind, that is fair, that is welcoming to all.