The History of Political Correctness

I can’t remember when I first heard the phrase “political correctness”.   Certainly it has an unfortunate reputation now; I have a friend who equates it with original sin.

But if you define it as being appropriate for the circumstances, political correctness goes back a long way.  I’ve recently read a “Verbal Energy” column by Ruth Walker in the Christian Science Monitor that quotes a PC example from Biblical times, specifically in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  According to the 1936 book In the Steps of St. Paul, British travel writer H.V. Morton writes about why Paul addressed converts as Galatians when it was a general term.  Galatia was a recent addition to the Roman Empire.  It was also huge and diverse, including Romans, Greeks and Jews.  The complication was it also included two communities with image problems — Phrygia was known for its slaves, and Lycaonia was notorious for thievery.  If Paul were to have used those words, he would’ve been implying his listeners were either slaves or bandits.  So he used Galatians, a much safer term that would’ve included everyone under Roman rule.

Political correctness?  It certainly was the diplomatic solution.

The original article can be found at

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