“The right-wing rhetoric around ‘P.C.’ has always made use of martial metaphors…with a sly wink”

The right-wing rhetoric around “P.C.” has always made use of martial metaphors — the “P.C. police,” the “feminazis” that Limbaugh popularized and their modern equivalent, “social justice warriors” — with a sly wink. These were, after all, sissy liberals engaged in stultifying cultural squabbles. But now Trump has deepened the insinuation, framing political correctness as a kind of fifth-column tendency, an actual danger to America. In his campaign, “P.C.” is no longer just a joke, or a slick rhetorical tool for riling the base. It’s the shrewd recognition of a dark aspect of white American psychology: That many experience being told not to use certain words as a kind of violence. For people who live free of the threat of police brutality and racist aggression, simply being called racist is a wounding personal attack. As one Trump supporter complained to BuzzFeed, “every other ethnicity” gets “a free card to say whatever they want and be completely accepted. But whenever I and many other people that might be sympathetic to the larger group of people say something, automatically it’s racist. It’s hypocritical and it’s wrong.”

Amanda Hess, “Gag Order”, The New York Times Magazine (24 July 2016), 12.