On Sunday, Meryl Streep received the Cecil B. Demille Award for her lifetime of achievements as an actor. She also, apparently, pissed off just about every one of our conservative friends because she’s a special snowflake who needs to move forward and support the new administration — our president! — whether she likes it or not. I mean, seriously, can’t she just accept that Donald Trump means well in his heart, despite what he says and does?
Seriously? How is her speech so controversial? Is it so terrible that she suggested that people in powerful positions shouldn’t mock people with disabilities? And, let’s be honest, President-Elect Trump mocked Serge Kovalevski. Whether Mr. Trump admits it or not, millions of us have seen the video, and we agree. It’s obvious that he’s performing a rather common pantomime of someone with a disability.
Trump may have mocked others with similar movements and sounds, but when he was mocking Kovaleski, it looked a lot more like that common pantomime than the others. It’s cringe-worthy, at best, and more likely, in my opinion, an overt insult.
Look, we don’t have to agree about it. I’m sure we’ve all made up our minds about whether we believe Trump when he says that he was mocking Mr. Kovelevski’s groveling and not his disability. Regardless, what is wrong with saying that respecting each other is important and that those in power should model that for everyone? Nothing.
The response from the right has been a bit over-the-top. Is empathy for underdogs really why Hillary Clinton lost the election? Is Meryl Streep overrated? Uh, no and no. Let’s not even go into those right now. While we may not agree about the substance of that video of Trump mocking Kovalevski, I think we can all agree that our country has a real problem with political correctness, but the problem isn’t just on the left.
Now, the left may take political correctness a bit too far sometimes. (Looking at you, academia.) There’s a tendency to not want to offend students in high school and college classrooms. (At least that’s what people bitch about on Facebook and the blogosphere.) Personally, I think banning classic novels in schools because they have the “n-word” is a bit too much.
To Kill a Mockingbird should be used to start a frank discussion about the history of racism in our country. It doesn’t make sense to ban it for its language. While some students may genuinely be dealing with a trauma history, an education should challenge people to step outside themselves. The world doesn’t come with trigger warnings. That’s why it’s as important to deal with those traumas and move forward as it is to get an education. See a therapist and go to school. Learn to understand and embrace our differences.
Overall, the left’s approach to “political correctness” revolves around respecting the individual. Is that so bad? Is it so harmful to everyone to say “person with disabilities” rather than “disabled person.” Indeed, if referring to someone as a “person with an addiction” rather than as an “addict” helps empower that person to overcome that addiction, is it really so bad? I’d like to think not.
Do we need to acknowledge that many people have different experiences in this country because of the various socioeconomic backgrounds? Yes. It’s not unpatriotic to admit that our country has big problems to deal with. We can be the greatest country on earth and acknowledge our faults.
On the other hand, people often try to say that they “just aren’t politically correct” when they’re trying to excuse their lack of respect for others. A great example of this is the early debate in the GOP primary when Megyn Kelly called out Donald Trump’s frequent disrespect for women. His words went well beyond mere political incorrectness. They were disrespectful.
And as far as “PC culture” goes, the right wing has their own brand of it. Has anyone else noticed how they don’t like to be disagreed with? Freedom fries, anyone? Does anyone else think that any opposition to President-Elect Trump’s policies or cabinet picks are met with a little too much “Trump won. Get over it?” Yes, he did win, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be opposed to his policies while still accepting that he’s the president-elect.
I don’t want to use the eight years of obstruction during the Obama Administration as a template for how to do things during the Trump administration. (The left would only be able to obstruct on votes that require a three-fifths majority to pass the Senate.) But can everyone grow up already?
Everyone — yes, everyone — needs to take a step back. We all aren’t go agree on everything, and we don’t have to. Our elected representatives should be finding ways to compromise because they represent all of us, not just their political parties. We don’t need to convince each other that there’s only one — right or left — solution. We can look for common ground. Sometimes, we aren’t going to get our way.
The bottom line is that we should be able to respect each other, but then again, maybe I’m just a special snowflake, too.