Donald Trump is on a war path against political correctness. And America is increasingly behind him as he leads the charge to take the beachhead. US media reportedly does not know what to do about Trump. It covers him because he delivers the all-important ratings their shareholders salivate over yet, in doing so, the industry gives him an even more powerful soapbox upon which he spreads his virulent views on immigration, race, and guns.
So, we ask, what’s the problem? Simply debunk his views using the “right” thinking, right? But, it’s really not that simple when you’re in the “news” media business…
Producers know that when you put someone who’s likely to spew falsehoods and who’s impervious to all attempts to correct them on the air, that person is going to get a lot of opportunities to repeat his falsehoods, and it’ll be very hard if not impossible to debunk him. Viewers will get a healthy sampling of lies, and undoing that damage in the space allowed will be nigh impossible. As Jay Z once said, “A wise man told me don’t argue with fools, ’cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who.”
The trouble with Trump, we are told, is that he is “politically-incorrect”. But then perhaps we need to step back and ask an important question: What, essentially, is political correctness trying to achieve? If you boil down political correctness to its essence, we will see that it is trying to bury supposedly unsavory human cognitive biases no longer “appropriate” in modern societies but which are, in fact, irrevocably hard-wired into the human brain.
So the next correct question to ask, in that light, is this:
Will political correctness succeed?
Everyone has their biases. Everyone is judgmental. Everyone holds a deeply-ingrained suspicion of people who don’t look like them, behave in unfamiliar — often unsettling — ways, and speak in a different language. In hindsight, it now is evident that the dogma of political correctness went a bit too far in trying to suppress all of those very human conditions much the same way that the great monotheistic religions suppressed human sexuality for centuries. Something’s gotta give. To the sexual revolution we saw in the late 1960s that was a long-overdue counter-punch to the theistic conservatism of the parents of the baby boom generation, perhaps we are now seeing a growing backlash against the political correctness liberalism of recent times.
This is, perhaps, the reason why Americans are so willing to believe Donald Trump unconditionally despite all efforts of today’s hipster liberals to drive some modern “sense” into the debate — because he is saying things people who are weary of political correctness want to believe. There is nothing baffling about the Trump phenomenon. It’s been the modus operandi of organised religions for millenia — repeating lies and false statements often enough and repeatedly enough as to effectively trump (pardon the pun) any intellectual effort to debunk them.
Indeed, if we are to understand the bigger point of what Trump is making in, say, leading us to believe that President Barrack Obama will be letting 200,000 Syrian refugees into the US when the fact is Obama only committed to just 10,000, is that, just maybe, American voters have taken the overarching position that Syrian refugees whether they number in the hundreds of thousands or just in the thousands are not welcome. In that regard, the position is consistent though the details vary.
Media should be quite familiar with this state of affairs. Images of carnage from a plane crash make great headlines and pull in the hits. CNN, by its own admission, made a lot of money off the Malaysian Airlines crashes — because aviation safety (which is optimal to within economic reason to begin with) is of the moment‘s importance when the latest plane crash is making headlines. But crunch the numbers and the fact that emerges is, people are more likely to be hit by a car and die while crossing the street than be killed in a plane crash. Nonetheless, plane crashes make headlines. Pedestrian fatalities don’t.
In that sense Trump is both a product of American media and of the audience’s choice of what is attention-worthy (a human condition that media science capitalises on) regardless of the facts. In business, timing is everything. Trump is a businessman and knows when that moment to capitalise on is at hand. Trump is seizing that moment today.
Perhaps we are seeing an America getting back to its old comfy familiar values — the very values that, arguably, made it a big, wealthy, and powerful country. You don’t get that rich and that powerful by being overly politically-correct in your strategy. Trump should know.