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by Peter Moskos

November 14, 2009

Political Correctness Kills?


My buddy Ron Smith has a column with the headline: "Fort Hood massacre shows how political correctness can kill." (just for record, columnists don't write headlines.)

I'm not a fan of political correctness (though I like being polite) and don't consider myself very politically correct (though I try and be considerate). But I'm pretty certain that political correctness does not kill.

Just because shooter Major Nidal Hasan expressed some things that are now seen as warnings and just because he's Muslim... does that mean these signs were ignored because of "political correctness"? I don't think so. More likely nobody did anything because, I don't know, how can you know and what are you going to do?

If you're a cop reading this, ask yourself this: how many of the cops that you work with are, to some kind of scary degree, crazy? I don't know how you define crazy, it's entirely up to you. But perhaps you can use this definition: If you heard that he flipped (and I'm assuming it's a guy) and shot somebody--maybe an ex girlfriend or complete stranger or themselves--if you heard this would you think, "I guess that wasn't a complete surprise." How many of these people do you know? I'll bet it's more than one.

So what have you done with that information? Called 911? Told internal affairs? Of course not. You talk to your friends to make sure you're not the only one who thinks this. I mean, you want to make sure he's crazy and you're not, right?

You talk about it. You laugh about it. And then you do nothing. You do nothing not because you're afraid of liberals and the ACLU or the politically correct police. Since when did you care about these groups? You don't do anything because, well, who the f*ck knows?! There are lots of crazy people. Some of cops and some are soldiers. But most take the their meds and even more manage just fine.

And every now and then one does flip. And in hindsight the "signs" often seem clear. But now, for the first time in America, one of these crazy mass-murdering shooters is Muslim. And now people think that if only we're weren't so worried about offending Muslim, this would have been stopped? Since when we were so worried about offending Muslim?


Stilgar said...

Great post. It's been driving me crazy that I haven't seen anybody in the media ask this question: does the Army have so many psychiatrists that they can afford to get rid of them on suspicion alone? Hasan could have made six figures in a comfortable civilian life; it stands to reason that the Army would want to hold on to him. Most people reading this can probaly recall a work environment in which a high-performing colleague had some personal problem or lack of social grace overlooked. Why should we expect the military to be any different?

Something else that drives me crazy (and I'm not accusing your friend of this) is the way some people use the idea of "political correctness" as a catch-all for anything they don't like, even when it is patently absurd. A competent worker in a badly-needed job has some personal problems overlooked? Obviously, it's because people are too afraid of being called bigots to question his religious beliefs! When faced with this argument, I like to point out that the single worst act of political correctness in the history of the military was the sacking of gay Arabic linguists. The military made itself demonstrably weaker by acceding to the demands of a particular group (homophobes). If that isn't the definiton of political correctness, what is?

PCM said...

I agree. But let's not forget that Congress passed the law banning gays in the military. I blame them more for passing the law more than the military for following the law.

Stilgar said...

To be precise, the ban on gays in the military was a longtime aspect of internal policy; DADT was a compromise passed after Clinton talked about lifting the ban. However, Congress does not operate in a vacuum. Now that Colin Powell is the American Left's Favorite Military Man (tm) (though Petraeus may end up taking that title in a few years), people like to forget how he and the other generals manipulated public opinion to get the bill passed. In the post-draft world, the military has enough cachet (IMO) that they can bend Congress to their will on essentially any internal matter.

PCM said...

Indeed. I agree.

It would be nice of the military to tell congress: rescind the ban because we're losing good people with the ban.

Too bad the military is more against gays in the military than good translators.

I happen to know a bit more than I should about this issue because my father was the man who actually invented and coined "don't ask don't tell." For real.

Gojira said...

It's always a treat to read something that's grounded in reality. Thanks for this great post, Peter! I myself can think of a couple of people in the publishing world who have always struck me as mentally imbalanced. But like you said, you talk about it, laugh about it, and duck your head down when you see them on the subway.