As previously noted, Republican candidates in Thursday’s debates seemed to compete to see who could take the wrongest stance on each issue. While a few (Paul, Fiorina, Kasich) struck me as more level-headed, Donald Trump went the other way, winning the wrongest stance contest.
When Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked him about his previous despicable characterizations of women (“fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals”), he joked he’d only used those terms about one particular woman. Kelly pressed the issue: “For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell… Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”
So Trump said: “I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”
Yes, it would have been easy to side-step the question, as politicians often do. Make a generic statement about wonderful, hard-working, intelligent American women. But not Trump. He decided to be honest and say that respecting women is just “political correctness” gone awry. The worst part was when the audience applauded him. Even worse than the worst part was when thousands of Trump fans sought out Kelly’s Facebook page and Twitter account, and bombarded her with snide and hateful remarks. Quite a few insisted they hadn’t been Trump fans until Kelly “unfairly attacked” him and he “stood up” to her with “truth”.
I recounted all this to say: Doing the right thing is not political correctness. Doing the right thing is human correctness — moral correctness.
The term “politically correct” gained prominence in U.S. politics as a pejorative, meant to deride those who strive too hard to not offend anyone, and to poke fun at attempts at making language more culturally inclusive and gender-neutral.
Yes, there are times when political correctness, even as a pejorative, has a valid point. “Oh, you can’t say that!” has been used far too often in my lifetime.
However, if a billionaire running for president can’t tell the difference between political correctness run amuck and an insistence on treating women with respect, then he needs to return to real estate and reality TV, where such practices are shrugged off, if not explicitly condoned or encouraged. If his fans can’t tell the difference, this only proves that the country still has a long way to go.
To make sure he wasn’t misunderstood, Trump followed up the debate by tweeting that Kelly was a “bimbo” and strongly insinuating that she was menstruating during the debates (“blood coming out of her… wherever”).