For once, Paul Begala was right.
In the wake of Charlottesville, the lesser half of the Carville-Begala Clinton apology team warned his Democrat brethren that any politically correct drive to topple “offensive monuments” would only allow Donald Trump to hijack the debate about white supremacy.
And, of course, that’s exactly what’s happened.
“Monumentgate” is but the most recent sign of the wave of political correctness that has washed over America since the election of our most anti-PC President.
Indeed, just as the nation’s first black President presided over a nation where race relations deteriorated during his presidency, so too has the nation’s first anti-PC President ushered in an unprecedented onslaught of unchecked political correctness that has touched every sector of society.
Consider the most recent examples:
In politics, the manufactured fury to rid the nation of long-standing monuments knows no bounds.
What began as a legitimate debate about the proper place for statues of slaveholding Civil War soldiers has rapidly devolved into a frenetic free-for-all to find reasons to get rid of anything that may offend anyone.
In San Francisco, it’s the Pioneer Monument that depicts an American Indian on the ground with a Spanish Vaquero above him. In Chicago, it’s the Balbo Monument in Grant Park that was donated by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. And in New York, undaunted Mayor Bill de Blasio stands ready to cart off Christopher Columbus statues, shutter Grant’s tomb and perhaps close down FDR Drive because, as one flabbergasted City Council member put it, “President Roosevelt interred guiltless Japanese during World War II.”
Oy. Oy. Oy.
In journalism, once proud media bastions of fairness have surrendered even attempting to be objective in favor of preaching political correctness.
One can’t quarrel with openly liberal media like MSNBC or openly conservative media like Fox News, which make no pretense of their bias.
But when a formerly-trusted media stalwart like The New York Times abandons its long-held principles of neutrality to champion PC causes, it becomes clear why, according to the latest polls, fewer Americans (30 percent) “trust” the news media than they do the Trump Administration (37 percent).
Tuesday of last week, for example, the Times’ featured an op-ed by one of its favorite contributors, Harvard Professor Naomi Oreskes, a longtime student of climate change and equally longtime enemy of Exxon-Mobil. Prof. Oreskes, a recipient of a glowing Times profile in 2015, has been blaming Exxon, in writings and speeches, for climate change denying for a decade. Her op-ed last week blamed Exxon (surprise!) for “showing a systematic, quantifiable discrepancy” between what its scientists and executives discussed about climate change in private and in academic circles and what it presented in its op-eds to the general public.
The research Ms. Oreskes cited — which she modestly described as “the first academic, empirical analysis of Exxon Mobil’s 40-year history of climate change communications” — was done by Ms. Oreskes, so its damning conclusion, given the good professor’s long-held public animus to Exxon, was not altogether unpredictable. It was also not altogether particularly “empirical,” given that Ms. Oreskes used the old public relations research technique of “content analysis,” which ascribes quantitative values to qualitative words and phrases in news content.
But publishing Ms. Oreskes’ anti-Exxon op-ed wasn’t the problem. The problem occurred the very next day when the Times chose to virtually repeat the Oreskes op-ed in a “news” story: “Exxon Misled the Public on Climate Change, Study Says.”
In one fell swoop, the formerly-most trusted newspaper in the world had converted PC opinion puffery to “factual news” in consecutive editions.
Finally, in business, we have the sad example of Delta Airlines and Eazy-E.
A week ago, Jason Mitchell, an obscure Hollywood actor who played the rapper Eazy-E in the 2015 biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” arrived late for his Delta flight to L.A. and was rebooked on the next flight. Mitchell became unhinged when his rebooking wasn’t in first class and, in a graphically recorded, most “un-Eazy” TMZ tirade, proceeded to curse out the Delta captain and flight attendants who had him removed from the plane and handcuffed by police.
But then Delta — which had earlier excoriated the less profane but equally-obnoxious Ann Coulter for also acting like a horse’s patoot on a flight — decided not to press charges against Mitchell and forget the whole thing.
One wonders how the Delta captain and flight attendants verbally attacked by the out-of-control actor feel about their company’s PC decision to abandon them. Delta CEO Edward Bastian and the public relations people who “advise” him should be ashamed.
Fraser P. Seitel has been a communications consultant, author and teacher for 40 years. He is the author of the Prentice- Hall text “The Practice of Public Relations,” now in its eleventh edition, and co-author of “Rethinking Reputation" and “Idea Wise.” He may be reached directly at email@example.com.