What has you gained in terms of political correctness

Politics & Communication

Careful choice of words

The term “political correctness” was still unknown in Germany at the time. Today Jenninger would immediately be seen as a victim of political correctness. But what exactly is meant by this, really nobody can say. The term "Political Correctness" was coined in the USA. In Germany it has long since become a buzzword in public discussion. Originally, it was about language regulations that had the aim of erasing racist and sexist connotations from linguistic usage.
Talleyrand's bon mot that language is given to people in order to hide their thoughts is turned upside down by "Political Correctness". The language determines the thinking, is the premise. The norms of a society are ultimately reflected in the language. Politically correct language aims to change thinking and thereby make society more tolerant and peaceful. In a positive way, it is an expression of a civil society that resolutely combats and seeks to prevent discrimination. And it particularly affects politicians. Hardly any other professional group has to be so careful not to turn the public - and thus potential voters - against them through their choice of words. “Politicians have to take into account the increased sensitivity of the public,” says Horst Dieter Schlosser, inventor of the “Unwort des Jahres” campaign.

Political pioneers

In 1971, Franz-Josef Strauss was still able to say unmolested: “I would rather be a cold warrior than a warm brother.” Such an anti-gay statement would no longer go through any top politician these days.
The representatives of the people also take the lead when it comes to verbal equality for women. No politician can any longer afford not to address the “citizens” as well as the “citizens”. The political culture has changed. The protection of minorities begins today with the language.
Political correctness also challenges opponents. In the effort to be politically correct, they see the actually existing variety of "Newspeak" from George Orwell's novel "1984": an instrument of repression that promotes the prohibition of language and thought. In contrast to Orwell's work, the uniformity of language does not come from a state oppressive apparatus, but from society itself. "People just need harmony," says Schlosser.

Innocent words

What began as a well-intentioned action has long since become a language of consensus that takes all kinds of real or supposed sensitivities into account - and thus disguises problems instead of naming them. And it can get worse. "Word monsters that are too well-intentioned," says Schlosser, "can in turn have a discriminatory effect."
An example: the politically correct term “people with a migration background”. They keep appearing among the submissions for the “Unword of the Year”, says Schlosser. The senders, however, are not people of German origin, but immigrant foreigners who perceive the label as a disability.
“The word itself is usually innocent,” says Schlosser. Often it is not the expressions that discriminate, but the context in which they are used. The term “foreigner” only loses its neutrality when it appears permanently in negative contexts.
Simply renaming it is not enough. This is shown by the example of the Sinti and Roma. The term "Gypsy" has largely disappeared from the language used because of the racist use under National Socialism.
In order to avoid a discriminatory reference to the ethnic group of criminals, German authorities replaced the common term “Sinti and Roma” with “people of mobile ethnic minorities”. Police soon shortened the formula to MEM. Nothing was gained by the politically correct language voltag, on the contrary: a new stigma was born. Now it was the "memes" who committed criminal offenses - and every officer knew who was meant.
If the media scientist Norbert Bolz has his way, political correctness is therefore the devil's stuff. “What is called political correctness is the current rhetoric of the Antichrist,” says Bolz. The Antichrist, it says in the Bible, comes along as someone who proclaims security and peace.

Fatal consequences

For Bolz, behind the “dialogue of cultures” hides spiritual surrender, behind “social justice” hides envy. According to this reading of political correctness, anyone who permanently hides behind a feel-good rhetoric runs the risk of creating unquestionable dogmas - and unlearning how to think independently.
This can have fatal consequences for politics. Politicians must be able to address issues that are relevant to society openly and from all angles. "Taboos are an obstacle to solving political problems," says political advisor Klaus-Peter Schmidt-Deguelle.
Anyone who imposes taboos because it does not seem opportune or politically correct to talk about a topic withdraws it from social discourse - and thus prevents sensible political decisions. Nobody can want that. Especially since targeted escalation can even be useful for politicians. They give them guaranteed attention under the market laws of media democracy. Clever politicians use border crossings to put topics on the agenda and initiate debates.

Finger in the wound

Not everyone has what it takes. Thilo Sarrazin does. The media are greedy for the cheeky sayings of the Berlin Senator for Finance. Excitement is guaranteed at Sarrazin. Whether he is now setting up a Hartz IV menu to prove that you can eat well on 4.25 euros a day. Whether he describes his officers as “pale and foul-smelling” because of the high workload or calls Tempelhof Airport a fillet “from which the maggots can already be seen”. Sarrazin speaks plain language and manages to put his finger in the wound.
Of course, this also provokes opponents. “The fact that I address something directly and get to the point is, as such, a shock for a lot of people,” he says. Often enough for his boss, Berlin's Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit. The Sarrazin criticized repeatedly for his unorthodox statements outside of all official language regulations. Nevertheless, Sarrazin suspects, "in the quiet of his heart" Wowereit is "not ungrateful" that there is someone in his team who gets to the point.
It is lone fighters like Sarrazin who open up perspectives in the public debate that go beyond politically correct paths. That doesn't exactly make them popular. Not with the public and not with their colleagues. Nevertheless, if not everyone agrees with them, they force others to confront them.
Sarrazin calls his mostly spontaneous objections “a contribution to the progress of knowledge”. Insulting is important to him, he doesn't want anyone. Good behavior is important to the financial professional. “You shouldn't become a behavioral disorder if you risk a lip,” he says.
Only once, when there was a protest against the increased daycare fees in Berlin, did the experienced provocateur Sarrazin use his tone. It is pretended "as if the Senate wanted to send children to concentration camps." The only saying for which the Berlin Senator for Finance ever apologized. Agenda setting at the expense of the victims of National Socialism - a limit had been crossed. “You are not allowed to enter absolutely taboo zones because the reactions are completely unpredictable. Your own message doesn't get across either, ”says Sarrazin.
Otherwise he will also continue to say what suits him. For health reasons alone. "I never get a political stagnation because I always let off steam in good time." That saves him from a heart attack. Other politicians are racking their brains about how to get out in public. Sarrazin no longer needs that. At every event, no matter how insignificant, that he attends, journalists sit and hope to hear the next scandalous saying.