Monday, January 9, 2012

Politically Correct? How About Humanly Correct..

What is meant by being “Politically Correct”? According to Wikipedia, “Political Correctness (adjectivally, Politically Correct; both forms commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term used to describe language, ideas, policies, or behavior seen as seeking to minimize offense to racial, cultural, or other identity groups.” Political Correctness has acquired considerable importance in the West, and a faux pas can jeopardize political careers, and in extreme cases, even terminate them. Respectable media is particularly vigilant and hastens to retract and apologize if it publishes or airs any controversial material that is deemed politically incorrect. Unfortunately, in our part of the World this is not the case. The media systematically resorts to adjectives like متخلف or البله المغولي to describe individuals or schemes that are not up to par or sub-standard… Unfortunately, the general populace is still immature, if not ignorant, both politically and socially, and as such does not possess the awareness to object. And even when it does, it is simply brushed aside and dismissed. This is manifest by the fact that newspapers rarely publish letters that express displeasure or objections to the use of certain terminology, whether intentionally or unintentionally. A case in point is when the widely distributed Al-Akhbar published a cartoon by its renowned artist Mustafa Hussein on 7.4.2008, which insensitively used the term “autistic” to describe the disunity of Arab politicians… This immediately struck a painful cord within the community of the persons with disabilities. Some parents and professionals eloquently voiced their objections in several emails addressed to the Editor-in-Chief, and demanded an apology and a retraction. Neither happened... Surprisingly as if by rote, within days of that cartoon, an article was published in El-Masry El Yoom, a supposedly independent newspaper in which the writer made a demeaning remark about disability… Again, both parents and professionals voiced their objection, and again they were completely ignored, thus adding insult to injury… It became clear that this common attitude was the norm for all newspapers irrespective of their political affiliation… As a natural reaction, a circle of email correspondence took form, and the nucleus of a lobby group slowly emerged… The group: Disability Awareness in Egyptian Society was the result of this forum… The ultimate goal is to ensure the dignity and respect that persons with disability deserve… The first step would be to avoid any reference to disability within a satirical or comical context in order to make people laugh, or as a synonym to stupidity, inability or ineptitude… That is both insensitive and inhumane… We still have a long way to go, but the journey of the thousand miles starts with one step… We shall persist… We shall not lose hope… Those of us with disabilities should be treated with dignity and respect; this is not charity… It is their inherent human right… And to use my friend Maha Helali's beautiful phrase: حقوق إنسان وليس إحسان

We WILL persevere… And Insha’ Allah we WILL triumph…

Loubna Olama
Mother of a Fine Young Man with Disability

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