“Political correctness” is a phrase that has been used to depict uniformity of ideas, behaviors and mindset. Political correctness is viewed as communal tyranny and is totalitarian in nature. This is because it is seen as a hindrance to freedom of speech and expression which are constitutionally protected rights. The basis of political correctness is to protect the members of the community who are viewed as different or minority, including women, homosexuals, non-whites, the disabled among others, from offensive comments. The ideology of political correctness has also been said to emanate from Marxist principles which advocate for a social revolution based on inversion of the existing traditions. Some have argued that political correctness is a moral system which advocates for equality, fairness and justice. Immanuel Kant argues that every human has absolute worth, he bases his argument on the reason. Proponents of political correctness have asserted that the concept is also based on reason and human worth. Due to globalization and growing multiculturalism in many countries, it has been important to advocate for a politically correct language. This means that a language should not be biased for or against a particular group, it should also not infringe on a person’s sovereignty and it should also not promote typecasts.
Political correctness advocates for a homogenized language that is sensitive to minority groups in the society. It also shows the moral fiber of the society. Critics have however argued that political correctness has been turned into a tool for those who want to play victims, so that they blame others for their misfortunes. Political correctness has however been employed in most public activities and careers.
Political Correctness in National and International Security
Essentially, political correctness in the workplace or in any sector is about respect for the feelings of the people around us. Political correctness has been expanded to the national and international security sectors to ensure safety and security for any country. This is because a certain language or phrases with regard to certain groups of people may spark unwanted hostility that could have far reaching negative consequences. President George Bush retracted the word ‘crusade’ from his subsequent speeches after it had an unanticipated negative reaction from the Muslim world. The former president has used the word to refer to Muslims as crusaders. In the US following the September 11 terrorist attacks it has been important to use politically correct language especially with reference to people from the Arab world. It has also been considered wise to include political correctness in international security as politically incorrect statements have been noted to spark conflict among nations. Criticisms launched against jihad and extremist Islamic behavior have been perceived by Muslims as an attack on Islam and has caused tensions and in some cases attacks (Tibi, 2008).
Following attacks by terrorist groups from Middle East on some western nations, there have been some remarks that have been made to the effect of condemning all the Muslims as terrorists something that has been referred to as Islamophobia. These statements are the ones that have resulted in more conflicts creating a vicious cycle of attacks and counterattacks. This is why the American government has introduced the concept of political correctness in national security.
There are varying views on the impact of political correctness on national and international security. This paper will look at the views of Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx on national security and what they would think of extending political correctness to this sector.
Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx
Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx were great German philosophers who explained various theories on law, economics and other subjects. These two philosophers had different but somewhat similar views on political correctness and national and international security. Immanuel Kant lived in the 18th century and he is accredited for his works on the philosophy of law. According to Kant, states are supposed to view each other as friends and settle any differences peacefully (Wendt, 1999). Following this view it is proper to conclude that Kant would be for the idea of political correctness in fostering national security. This is because political correctness entails a peaceful approach to dealing with a volatile situation. Instead of solving one crisis after another, political correctness advocates for a considerate and reasonable behavior. This has been seen with the building of a mosque at Ground Zero in order to make a statement that it is not the Muslims who are the enemies but particular terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda (Burke, 2011). In some way this peaceful resolve of matters has led to less animosity and a greater sense of security. In Kant’s theory, people know things not as they are but only as they appear to us. This means that some of the statements that have been labeled politically incorrect are not as they appear. Words like mankind were not coined with the notion of excluding women but that is how they appear to us and thus having to come up with the concept of political correctness.
According to Kant reason and reality should apply in order to perceive things as they are and not as we would like them to be. In this way one would not be offended by words that did not have an offensive undertone. In short, Kant’s views on world peace are consistent with the concept of political correctness in national and international security. It can however be argued that Kant would not agree with political correctness in national and international security. This is because Kant stated that most of the things in this world are grouped into entities by the human brain. By this, Kant meant that there is a difference between the reality and how things are perceived. There is also the analogy that if one was to wear red tinted glasses then everything would appear red including that which is not (Younkins, 2000). This therefore means that if things were to be seen as they really are then there would actually be nothing such as political incorrectness. If there is condemnation of terrorism or criminal behavior by a certain group then that group should not react violently claiming that they have been offended. Instead they should take it as a criticism of the particular stray members whose conduct is being reprimanded.
Karl Marx advanced the famous Marxist theory that is based on the inequality between the proletariat and the bourgeois in society. Marxism is based on the fact that if there was elimination of classes in society then the world would be a better place. Karl Marx had radical ideas that suggested that the state and law are solely put in place to advance class interests and to suppress the working class or proletariat. The suggestion of elimination of classes by Marxism is the same ideology used for political correctness. Unlike Immanuel Kant, Marx did not see social concepts as the result of rationale; he saw them as products of socio-economic classes. Karl Marx also stipulates that the proletariat can only come to power through a proletarian revolution which must be violent because the bourgeoisie will not give up power easily. This view is different from Kant’s, who advocates for peace. Following Karl Marx’s theory it is not clear whether he would be for or against political correctness in security matters. The thing that stands out however is that he would be for political correctness, because the concept of political correctness entails a revolution by the minorities. The minorities are taking stand against the ruling class.
Marx would think of political correctness to enhance national security as a good thing because this would mean that there would be elimination of classes and the minority would be in power since the so called ruling class would give up the power in exchange for security. Marx would however disagree with political correctness to address national security concerns, because one of the views advanced by Karl Marx was that class hatred is an excellent thing in comparison to class collaboration. According to Marx the unity of classes as is proposed in political correctness in national and international security, would lead to brainwashing of the weaker class.
In my opinion, political correctness is a good tool for addressing national and international security concerns. It is through showing tolerance for one another that we can achieve security from terrorism and other acts of hatred. It is however wrong for criminals and terrorist groups to hide as victims under the cover of political correctness. Sometimes political correctness curtails the freedom of society. Social wrongs cannot be spoken of openly for fear of being seen as politically incorrect and also for fear of attacks. The issue of national security has been brought under the realm of political correctness in order to prevent those crimes that could be averted simply by controlling one’s actions. Owing to the fact that terrorism is an unfair war where there are no rules or limitations, it is important to show tolerance to avert crimes such as the attacks on the twin towers.
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