Political correctness overwhelms the left, leaving behind critical issues

Image By: Amileah Sutliff

In a time when millions of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, health care remains an uncertainty for too many, workers are working longer hours for lower wages and the planet is facing catastrophic environmental change, it seems that too many on the political left are more concerned with criticizing those who don’t agree with them on preposterous stances such as how we should have a large variety of gender options recognized on Facebook. 

Political correctness is a term used mostly by conservatives to criticize liberals for “extreme”  stances on social justice issues. While conservatives too often ignore the challenges that cause social justice movements to form in the first place, they do have a very valid point. The left needs to start focusing on things that truly affect people and not lose their minds whenever someone does or says something that isn’t aligned with their ideology.

At UW-Madison, we’re lucky to live in an inclusive and liberal-minded environment that values freedom of speech and intelligence. There aren’t specific campus policies that I would classify as overly sensitive or politically correct, for the university does a strong job in seeking that the values and needs of its students are properly and rationally met. 

Yet throughout the nation college students have become used to norms of over-the-top forms of political correctness. Even at UW-Madison, there are times when you meet someone in an academic setting and have to tell everyone your preferred gender pronoun. This obviously doesn’t alter the lives of anyone, yet is a sign of how sensitive and dramatic we’ve come as a society. If, for instance, someone with a unique gender identity wanted to express this about themselves, then we should without question support this. However, worrying about offending someone because we didn't use the right pronoun, and therefore being labelled a bigot, is simply unnecessary. 

To be clear, it is vital to distinguish political correctness and over-sensitivity from a genuine concern for social issues. Racial minorities, women, LGBT and other demographics still face hardships for being who they are and it is essential for society to recognize them and work together to face them. There are still far too many people with a genuine hatred or prejudice towards others of different demographics, and addressing and challenging these stances is not part of a liberal agenda, but of human decency. 

Yet with a focus on political correctness and over-sensitivity, we lose sight of the actual issues, including the social issues themselves. Those on the far left, mostly millennials and college students, have decided that it’s completely rational to create “safe spaces” and unleash “trigger warnings” whenever the littlest things upset them. 

Back in November of 2016, conservative talk show host and lawyer Ben Shapiro spoke to a crowd on campus and was challenged by student protestors shouting “Safety!” whenever he tried to speak. While Shapiro is a polarizing figure with many strong opinions, he’s not a demon trying to invoke hatred toward anyone like some suggest. By being so threatened by a different ideology, left-wing students fail to challenge their ideas and respect free speech, instead become victims of their own weaknesses. 

College students have become weak and sensitive that they have lost all sense of rationality when it comes to politics and social issues. Colleges have moved so far to the left that it feels like free-thinking and the expressing of new ideas has become foreign. Anything that doesn't align with far-left social justice thinking is deemed “racist” or “sexist,” even if it is the complete opposite of such a claim. 

By focusing on trivial nonsense such as whether or not it’s appropriate to say “hey guys” to a group of girls or whether using the word “freshman” instead of “first-year” is sexist, we lose sight of the true issues surrounding gender discrimination and sexism such as sexual assault and the objectification of women. 

By worrying about whether or not Hollywood films have enough representation of different races or the Oscars have enough black nominees, we lose sight of actual forms of racism such as the institutionalized injustices against black and brown people in the criminal justice system and the still common hatred of people of color. 

Looking for things to criticize and pretending that everything pertains to a social justice issue makes us, as a society, fail to recognize what is actually hurting people and damaging our society. 

Real social justice issues exist in addition to other global problems, including the most pressing issue of climate change and environmental degradation. It’s time for liberals to start focusing more on these issues and not fall apart whenever someone says something that isn’t politically correct, or else we will never be able to tackle the issues that are challenging people’s lives on a daily basis. 

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