In the Trump Era, Political Incorrectness on the Rise

Perceptions of the state of race relations are divided more by party than by race itself. Photo: Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One of the major grievances of the coalition that elected Donald Trump president was the oppression of “political correctness.” There are, of course, varying definitions of that term, though Trump and his entourage have almost invariably interpreted it to mean any negative reaction to his crude bullying of vulnerable and marginalized people. And while some of the concerns about political correctness may indeed involve rigid campus-speech codes affecting a relative handful of elite students, it’s hard to avoid the impression that for the average MAGA fan the main beef is that you can’t tell racist and sexist jokes at work any more without someone getting huffy about it.

But the Trump Era seems to have stimulated a wave of self-liberation among bigots. One alarming indicator is a sharp rise in hate crimes. But as a new Pew survey of racial attitudes shows, there’s a corresponding rise in old-fashioned racist talk. 65 percent of Americans say “since Trump became president it has become more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views.” Forty-five percent say such expressions have become “more acceptable.” Fifty-six percent believe Trump has made race relations in the country worse (only 25 percent feel that way about Barack Obama). What a token of restored American greatness!

Pew unsurprisingly finds a significant gap between white and black perceptions of racial justice and injustice. Seventy-eight percent of African-Americans think “our country hasn’t gone far enough in giving blacks equal rights with whites.” Only 37 percent of whites agree.

But the partisan perception gap between white Democrats and Republicans is even larger.

White Democrats (64%) are far more likely than white Republicans (15%) to say the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving black people equal rights with whites. About half of Republicans say it’s been about right, while a sizable minority (31%) says the country has gone too far in this regard.

Eight-in-ten white Democrats – vs. 40% of white Republicans – say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on black people’s position in American society today. And when it comes to views about racial discrimination, 78% of white Democrats say the bigger problem is people not seeing it where it really does exist, while a similar share of white Republicans say people seeing racial discrimination where it really does not exist is the bigger problem….

About half or more white Democrats say blacks are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police (88% vs. 43% of white Republicans); by the criminal justice system (86% vs. 39%); in hiring, pay and promotions (72% vs. 21%); when applying for a mortgage or loan (64% vs. 17%); in stores or restaurants (62% vs. 16%); when voting in elections (60% vs. 7%); and when seeking medical treatment (48% vs. 9%).

Pretty clearly, the direction of the country on race relations depends more on partisan control of government than it has since the pre–Civil Rights days when white racists were for the most part consolidated in the Democratic Party. And one can only imagine the sense of freedom the proudly politically incorrect would feel in a second Trump term.

In the Trump Era, Political Incorrectness on the Rise