In Defense of Political Correctness

In Charleston, South Carolina, yesterday, President Obama spoke at Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeral and in the course of his address,  and said this:

“For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate Flag stirred into many of our citizens.

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It’s true a flag did not cause these murders. But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge, including Governor Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise…

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… as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride.

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For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression…

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… and racial subjugation.

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We see that now.

Removing the flag from this state’s capital would not be an act of political correctness. It would not an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong.”

That strikes me as exactly right. I sometimes hear that to remove the Confederate flag from public places, or to change the names of schools named after Confederate generals/leaders, or to rename military bases, is being “politically correct.” But, really, for those who take that stance, do you really believe that politics, or certain assumptions about race, or the way the world works more generally, was absent from these – wait for it, political – decisions to begin with? I think not, and as our society, thankfully, has come to see more and more clearly what the Confederacy stood for, values that we should emphatically reject, it is not only politically correct to remove Confederate flags to make these symbolic changes, it is morally correct to do so.

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