This morning on Meet The Press, Newt Gingrich made an excellent point when he said, “The next decade will be a decade of honest conversation.” In order for that conversation to take place, however, we need to find the language to do that.
Words matter. We change the way we speak to indicate a change in the way we think. It works the other way too. Words influence our views. It comes down to a difference between denotation and connotation. A word’s dictionary definition is its denotation. The feeling or image a word evokes is its connotation. The spirit behind political correctness is an admirable one because of this.
The era of political correctness has held us back in some ways because it seems to justify an absence of critical thought. There is a War on Terror even if President Obama refuses to call it that. The events of recent months prove it. Just consider the attack at Fort Hood as well as those recently arrested in Denver, Detroit, New York and Pakistan in connection with potential threats to American’s safety. There are threats, but who or what is the enemy? Why is it politically incorrect to call them Islamic extremists? What unifies these terrorists if not their religious fanaticism? Can you be tolerant of religious differences while still distinguishing when one group hides behind a religion to push forward a criminal agenda? Yes, we must be able to do that in order to have that honest conversation Gingrich so rightly called for.
Let’s start talking.