Political correctness often seems like it has become a prized virtue not only in the U.S., but in many other parts of the world. Because of its high-profile popularity, one tends to sit up and take note when anyone questions the wisdom of clinging to political correctness.
Such is the case with Dame Louise Casey, a British government official who recently authored a report on the problems driven by immigrants, particularly those from Muslim backgrounds, who fail to assimilate in their adopted country. Speaking to a national conference of law enforcement officials, Casey noted that concern for political correctness is causing officials to turn a blind eye to many crimes. According to The Independent:
“[S]he told senior police officers that leaders seem ‘much more able to talk about’ criminal profiles and common factors in regular crime than terrorism.
‘Clearly this [threat] goes right the way across the country,’ she added. ‘The extreme far-right is growing and they milk every single time we are overly politically correct about Islamic extremism…we have to be able to have these difficult conversations.’”
Previously, Casey has argued that Great Britain needs to make a greater effort toward integrating these immigrants into the country’s common culture, declaring that even a mass acceptance of the English language would help this process.
But Great Britain isn’t the only nation that struggles with this abandonment of common culture in the name of political correctness. As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently noted, America is struggling with this problem, as well:
“'I mean, what binds us? What do we all have in common anymore? I think we have to think about that.’”
The American Founders certainly saw the importance of assimilating immigrants. They welcomed individuals from diverse backgrounds and countries. But in welcoming them, they also recognized that the health and strength of a nation could not continue unless those individuals joined in to become a part of the common American culture. George Washington is proof of this, as is Alexander Hamilton. In 1794, Washington sought to discourage immigrants from maintaining their previous national identity, instead encouraging them to quickly become a part of their new nation:
“[B]y an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, manners and laws: in a word, soon become one people.”
Several years later Hamilton noted:
“The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common National sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias, and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education and family.”
It’s a great thing to encourage diversity, but in doing so we should ask ourselves if that diversity encourages or discourages a common culture amongst the nation. If it does the latter, then perhaps it’s time we ask whether a doctrine of political correctness is truly healthy for the country.
[Image Credit: Flickr-Fibonacci Blue (CC BY 2.0)]
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.