Being a news junkie, reading “all the news that’s fit to print,” listening intently to Israeli news on radio, watching it on TV as though it’s my Ulpan (intensive Hebrew course for new immigrants), surfing between CNN, FOXNews, BBC, SkyNews and France24 on my Israeli TV, I’m stunned by how often the same story is reported differently across the world and the internet.
I want to know when truth disappeared, maybe even died.
My formative years included nightly “visits” from Frank McGee, Walter Cronkite, and of course Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. From these broadcasters and others I trusted and believed that honest reporting was assumed, that reporters simply had to be neutral, never showing their preferences.
Perhaps less than accurate reporting began with the Viet Nam War, or the Watergate Scandal. “Laugh-In” and Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update taught us to laugh at the truth. In a few short years we preferred Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” to real news. My parents’ generation would never believe that The New York Times and Time Magazine would intentionally slander Israel or publish stories without real fact-checking.
During the late 20th century, the term “political correctness” surfaced and quickly became an innocuous term, its users possibly holding distant opposite views and beliefs. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines political correctness as “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.”
During the 50 Days this summer of Operation Protective Edge, it’s clear that truth doesn’t matter, that public opinion is easily swayed with just a smattering of information. It’s become more difficult to distinguish between political correctness and distortion of truth. Thank God for those brave journalists from India, France and Finland who filed their stories about actual human shields used by Hamas – but only once they left Gaza and were safe (hopefully) in their homes.
American college campuses are now rife with changing the truth by diversion and manipulation. Last week the Ohio State University Student Union President used manipulation by taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, by substituting a bucket of (supposed) blood over her head, claiming that this was her protest for lives lost in Gaza. And her connection between ALS and Palestinians is…? There was an abundance of media covering this mockery of a popular charitable act (more than $20 million has been raised this summer for ALS with ice!). As of this writing, she’s been rebuked by Ohio State University administration and student leaders. What offended them more – equating ALS with Gaza, or the use of blood?
The last two weeks beheadings are now part of our daily vocabulary and the world is focused on ISIS. The UN continues to investigate Israel’s supposed war crimes this past summer yet seems silent with the actions of Syria, ISIS, Boko Haram’s actions in Nigeria and elsewhere. Has the world given up on #bringbackourgirls or do we now just assume those 250 girls were sold and will never be reunited with their families?
What does all of this have to do with political correctness? It’s no longer about being “careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.” PC is about the moment, what’s happening this nano-second. Gaza, Ferguson, Nigeria yesterday, today ISIS. PC makes us think – let’s move on from this, it’s enough.
Reporters and commentators are now freely saying that ISIS must be eliminated, wiped out, destroyed – and I agree. ISIS is compared to Nazis with their brutality and torture. I will never be able to eliminate from my mind’s memory unexpectedly watching the video of the beheading of James Foley 3 weeks ago.
Political correctness still lingers when the need for an immediate Presidential strategy is on hold until a good plan is formulated. Political correctness keeps the gray in a situation when it should be clearly black or white, it keeps the line in the sand quite hazy and covered. Political correctness eliminates flexibility and quick thinking, especially to save lives. It’s what kept 2,000 Yazdis starving for days on a Iraqi mountaintop, before receiving food and help, because there was a sense to not offend…who? Political correctness in theory pushes us to believe that words matter, that fair play and moral choice determine our vocabulary. Political correctness in reality inhibits and camouflages the facts on the ground.
It’s time to bury and forget political correctness. Being PC now is dangerous when saving lives, dangerous when trying to uncover and report the truth, dangerous to living in today’s world with instant information through cameras on cell phones and internet easily available. We each now must become responsible for our own information, not relying on “unnamed sources.” PC had its day for the early struggles of civil rights, women’s issues and Viet Nam. We need to tell it like it is, or as was said in the 60’s – let it all hang out! Its usefulness is over.
P.C. = R.I.P.