Narratives are produced by mass media. The endorse and uphold certain values and ways of thinking. They can be liberal or conservative, religious or atheistic, historical or contemporary. What a narrative does is that it uses public opinion to change policy at the top. Many times, however, we cannot trace the origins of these narratives. It is important to do so because every world view must be openly and fairly debated so that society can find truth for itself.
Media narratives achieve success through the back door. The advance certain world views using all sort of methods. One very popular one is to take it as given. A message is portrayed in such a way that says ‘Of course this is the right way of thinking! How can you think otherwise?’ Couple this with selection bias and millions of viewers are suddenly being told what they should now consider important. What is crucial is that no one knows where the changes came from. It is only the mass media age where we have had such radical social changes in values can’t be attributed to a source. With religion we have its founders e.g. Christ, Buddha, Mohammad; with liberal economics we have the likes of Adam Smith and Thomas Friedman; Marxism – Karl Marx; Atheism – any one of Fredrich Nietzsche, David Hume; abolition of slavery – William Wilbeforce; the Civil Rights Movement – Martin Luther King Jr.
Why is it important to know the source of ideas? – because it means we can take a good look at them, analyse its good and bad sides, and make an informed judgement. These people are brave because they take responsibility and put a face on an idea so that society knows who to go to when we’re trying to think clearly about what they say.
Take, by contrast, Political Correctness. Who thought of it? Who preached it, wrote a theory about it, got people to go on marches for it? However, in only a few decades it has become a prevailing social maxim which has made its way into law in several countries.
If the reader believes that I am against Political Correctness they are missing the point. I’m just an average citizen trying to avoid making mistakes and make the best decisions that I can. It means I must ask questions about what I believe. There is no value or world view that is without its contentions and I need to know them before I take sides, just like every other debate. Political Correctness, like many other values and views, is advanced by faceless people – editors of newspapers, producers of film and popular music. Is this a bad thing? – of course not! However, to have that sort of power and influence of what hundreds of millions of people believe that they simply need to show their face and argue their position. If producers of information have more influence over a society than politicians (which I definitely believe is the case), then I want to know who they are, what their beliefs are, match their views with their conduct. At the moment we don’t do that. An editor of a right-wing paper, for instance, could easily endorse the sanctity of marriage, publish material that influences many, get a journalist to ask a celebrity probing and embarrassing questions about their mistakes, and then go and have an affair of their own and we would know nothing about it. In other words, producers of mass information are not accountable. For every journalist who interviews a politician, celebrity, or other public figure, so that they are exposed to the public, I wonder how that journalist would stand to the same scrutiny about their own work and lives. What mistakes did they make today in their job? Do they use drugs? Do they have affairs? Do they accept bribes? We know nothing about them and yet they have advanced ideas like Political Correctness and look at the impact it has had.
Now, you may be now be convinced that I am against Political Correctness. Remember, I myself am black and therefore one if its beneficiaries, but here is why I treat it with such scepticism – fear. Whenever the topic of Political Correctness comes up there’s not a single person who upholds it with confidence. All most people say is ‘Oh, its gone a little out of hand’, or ‘It doesn’t completely make sense to me’. Yet we obey it with fear. We dare not say any negative things about minority groups even if they are true, but shout every aberration from the roof tops about the majority and expect nothing to happen. When this happens in front of your friends and colleagues, a deep, dark mood sinks in. When someone selects me for a role because I’m black and leaves out a colleague; when we beat down the white race for not giving minorities enough rights and feel like my white friends feel forced to agree and not defend themselves; when you’re at a party and a friend says ‘You should go for this job. You’ll make it because you’re black’, and your other friends standing next to you wanting the same type of role stands there trying to pretend that what was said was in some weird way fair.
Why am I afraid? – because there is a surge of defiance that is rising the west. People, in private and friendly conversation, are now starting to boldly say that they are suppressed; that things aren’t fair. Since minorities have been protected by narratives and now by law, they start to exert their discontent towards them, and it has happened to me. Discontent turns to anger, and then to violence. We should have discussed Political Correctness from the start like everything else. Now, the very people who advanced it now have to deal with a resurgent right-wing wave which, history tells us, carries all the elements that will make it succeed – anger, violence, conviction, and now, a just cause. All that Political Correctness aimed to achieve is, as I see it, about two decades away from being reversed and swung back in the opposite direction.
Once again, MISTAKES! Faceless narratives now need a face, or at least need to be treated very sceptically. In fact, we may even need to disbelieve them first so that we can think about them very clearly.
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