First, ESW’s introductory note:
Here’s a commentary I found excellent because it highlights Austria’s MSM. Die Presse was the only newspaper featuring Al-Rawi’s latest coup, and the rest of the media ignored it. The entire country is consumed by PC, and it is sickening to see and experience.
I have a friend, for instance, who called me up when the Susanne Winter incident broke (she called Mo a pedophile), asking me whether I had told her that. When I said no, and told her that what Winter had said was the truth, my friend was shocked. “You can’t say it that way,” she said.
I asked her how one can say that Mo was a pedophile, she said you should simply put it another way. Which way, she did and could not say. And my friend considers herself to be non-PC!
Below is ESW’s translation of the editorial in Die Presse :
Political Correctness is not politically correct- - - - - - - - -
By Hans Winkler
If supposedly considerate speech is extended concerning “right” and “wrong” content, political correctness will be a threat to itself and a danger to freedom of expression.
“Don’t call me nigger” was the title of a paperback series in the 1950’s published by the Catholic Herder publishing house. The young reader in me back then got a first lesson of what would later be called “political correctness” around the world and what would become an important intellectual movement. PC, meanwhile, as the abbreviation is known, originally comes from the U.S., where in a multiethnic society different groups fight for recognition and representation. In order to help the traditionally disadvantaged, practical measures for equality like “affirmative action” (“positive discrimination”) were instituted, particularly quotas in the education system.
When discrimination against minorities by the majority culture appeared not to be effectively ended, an extensive system of handling the alleged sensitivities of minorities and outsiders by linguistic twists soon developed, especially in the academic world of the east and west coasts. The white, heterosexual, Anglo-Saxon man should be no longer be considered as quintessential. The word “Caucasian” has its source in the PC world.
Discrimination in both directions
It is understandable that blacks as a group in the United States were primarily identified as those requiring most of the political correctness. The scornful words “nigger” and “Negro”, which is a loan word from the Spanish, were initially replaced by “black”. But even this reference to skin color seemed discriminatory, so that today in the stilted and informally used “African-American” prevails.
Serious business or invented to ridicule?
The iron determination and moral seriousness with which the representatives of political correctness have operated their cause have also led to excesses, and we do not know whether they are serious or were invented to be ridiculed. We know that today a child may not be called “difficult” any more than he may be said to be “showing signs of behavioral problems” — the stopover on the way to total political correctness — but as “exhibiting original behavior”. It would be wise to ask whether these tortured words stigmatize these children even more than they are already stigmatized in real life.
There is a special form of PC in the struggle for equality for women. In order to escape the accusation that they are discriminating against their students, American professors have started to use only the plural form of “students” or, alternately, “she” and “he”. In the German-speaking countries women have been very successful in this matter, and the German language has proven particularly vulnerable to rape on behalf of PC. All word forms remotely sounding as if they were male have been replaced by the word “inclusive” — meaning: including the female.
The core of PC is not using names for something or someone that one would not want be called oneself, because it could hurt or offend. There is a new and different dimension in political correctness when it is no longer just a new word that is introduced in order to help minorities or help those too weak to be emancipated, but views and opinions on minorities, the weak, or ethnic and religious groups are seen as non-admissible.
A case in point that we have experienced recently in Austria was hardly noticed in the public and in the media, apart from a few commentaries in this newspaper. In [the city of] Traun a parish had invited the German Islamic scholar Christine Schirrmacher to take part in a lecture. Schirrmacher teaches in Löwen, Belgium, and is director of the Islamic Institute of the German Evangelical Alliance. The integration official of the Islamic Community in Austria and member of the Vienna city council for the Socialist Party, Omar Al-Rawi, intervened in advance of the event, and was successful in demanding that the speech be canceled.
Al-Rawi cited as the reason for his intervention that the speaker encourages “Islamophobia”. This is an allegation that does not need to be proven, and for which there is no counter-evidence, because it is considered simply a position of hostility toward Islam. There is no “Islamophobia” anywhere in Schirrmacher’s speech, which can be read online. If it had been given, it would have taken stock of the history of Islam in Europe and included a friendly plea for a “coexistence” between Islam and European-Western civilization. However, Schirrmacher does warn of the advancement of political Islam and a “shariah-friendly” legal opinion among Muslims, which will undoubtedly lead to the establishment of legal double standards.
Small piece of freedom lost
Al-Rawi’s action follows a thinking and pattern of activity which Schirrmacher knows well: “Some Islamic organizations today urge that nothing negative about Islam should be published, as this is discrimination against Islam. If it is not written from a Muslim perspective, it is to be stopped.” It will be important to follow closely to what extent the Western society is prepared to defend its hard-won freedom of the press and of expression. In Traun, at least, a small piece of it has been lost. Al-Rawi’s impertinence is not surprising, but it is shocking that the parish in Traun was intimidated by him. He, however, says it was “convinced”. “Mrs. Schirrmacher can speak wherever she wants,” he generously says, but not where his arm is long enough to reach her.
The former German president Roman Herzog wrote the following words: “Political correctness cannot act as the legitimate limit to freedom of expression.” One could also say that political correctness can and should also cease to be politically correct.