Do you sometimes come across something in the news that you get a bit miffed about but you don’t like to say anything because you know that your views might offend some people? Do you really enjoy free and open debate, even on the thorniest of subjects like politics and religion, but find that it’s increasingly difficult to avoid the minefields planted in the name of political correctness?
I find myself miffed this morning and I’m hesitant about saying anything in case I inadvertently offend someone but, if I don’t say something, it will irritate me all day so here goes.
I love inspiring words! You know the sort, they just uplift everyone, they are not specific or targeted, you don’t have to have suffered to be able to relate, they were just written to motivate. One of my favourite examples is IF by Rudyard Kipling, you know the one, it goes like this:
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise……
I suppose, if you want to be picky, you could say that the last line ‘And you shall be a man my son’ is sexist but you’d have to be pretty bloody picky after reading all the lines that preceed it.
Anyway, these words were painted on a wall in a Manchester University, I assume to act as inspiration for the students. However, they have now been painted over and replaced by the words of Maya Angelou. Why? Well, some of the students decided that Rudyard Kipling “stands for the ‘opposite of liberation, empowerment and human rights’.”
Kipling died in 1936 so he doesn’t ‘stand’ for anything if we’re going to be pedantic about it but isn’t it his words that are important and not the fact that the opinions that he may or may not have held (that point is debatable) are not ‘acceptable’ in today’s (100 years later) society?
That aside, the students claimed that it was their job to “uphold our principles of inclusivity, fairness and empowerment”. Ok, fair enough, so what did they replace ‘If’ with? Another poem that would be an inspiration to others regardless of their faith, colour or creed? No. They replaced it with a poem about people of colour breaking the bonds of slavery; both literally and metaphorically.
Now, while I would agree that we can all take something from this work as it is powerful and beautifully written, it is not inclusive.
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
These are not words that will resonate with everyone because the vast majority of us can have no concept of what it is to be enslaved but they were written over words that all of us can relate to in the name of ‘inclusivity and fairness’; frankly I do wonder at the irony…….
Is it wrong to think this way? Have I reached an age where I am out of touch with ‘modern’ sensibilities or has political correctness trapped us to a point where we are afraid of critical thinking?
What do you think? Agree or not, I’d love to hear from you.