Has the word chauvinist fallen from grace?

A racist impulse does not make a racist

An actor is labeled a racist because he has fantasized about revenge against black people. This extends the dictates of political correctness to thought. That is dangerous for the political debate.

A warning in advance: This leading column will confront you, dear readers, with thoughts that in today's society seem to go beyond the boundaries of what is politically correct.

She will quote words that are rightly classified as racist. It could also trigger feelings and fantasies that you are not proud of. Because this leading column will take you into the brains of Liam Neeson, the Hollywood star who fell out of favor last week for an interview with "The Independent" on the occasion of the premiere of his new film, "Cold Pursuit".

When asked how he felt about his role as an average person who mutates into a killer after the murder of his son, Neeson confesses his own violent fantasies from the past: "I'll tell you a story that really happened that way." , begins the 66-year-old and then reports on an acquaintance who was raped by a black man. "Then I roamed the streets with a club for a week, hoping to be provoked by a" - here Neeson was painting quotation marks in the air - "a black bastard in order to strike, to kill."

It is a terrifyingly violent confession with which the star from “Schindler's List” triggered an avalanche of racism allegations overnight. Many fans are appalled by the “toxic masculinity” and the thirst for murder that has been expressed. The homage on the red carpet for the premiere in New York last Thursday was promptly canceled and even the end of Neeson's career was predicted.

Anyone who has never felt a thirst for revenge, who has never dealt a beating in their minds, should post the first tweet against this text.

What is certain is that the actor's confession is the beginning of the expansion of the political correctness dictation to include thinking and feeling: Neeson was branded as a racist and chauvinist in social networks on the basis of a voluntarily admitted drive of aggression.

In doing so, he did not become the perpetrator, he did not convert his emotional impulse into a criminal act, but became aware of his racist affects, brought revenge under control, reflected and thus went through the process of civilization as an individual, as sociologist Norbert did Elias describes in his theory.

How else should racism, but also sexism, be fought if not by dealing with individual, often unconscious prejudices? Show trials that no longer differentiate between thinking and acting, between fantasy and reality, certainly do not help society any further.

Racism and sexism are not simply problems of the evil other. Bans on thinking and imagination do not remove affects from the world. Or to put it another way: Anyone who has never felt a thirst for revenge, who has never thought about whether the little blonde is really up to the job, who has never worried about the proportion of foreigners in school, oppose the first tweet this text.

The discourse about political correctness is omnipresent today. Whereas in the 20th century it was the major ideologies such as communism and fascism that every citizen had to take a stand on, today it is dealing with minorities, with difference. Is this touch unsuspicious? Am I linguistically considerate of all minorities? Is it still allowed to read texts with a problematic image of women at universities? You can reject this discourse, but you cannot avoid it.

How should empathy, tolerance and ultimately an open political debate arise if our system of thought, but also our personal comfort, are not challenged?

A society has to agree on what can and cannot be said. Which discourses it accepts has nothing to do with absolute truth, but is either dictated from above or, according to the philosopher Michel Foucault, is the result of a historical negotiation process.

The me-too debate has clearly shown that the boundaries of what is debatable can shift: even the most jovial boss would no longer allow himself to be lewd in the office today. Nobody in a liberal state should experience exclusion because of their gender, religion or ethnicity.

It is wrong, however, if, based on today's demarcation, books are cleaned of taboo words and thus robbed of their zeitgeist. When pictures, such as the naked minors by the painter Balthus in the Folkwang Museum in Essen, are not shown because the accusation of pedophilia is immediately raised. When the poem by the Swiss poet Eugen Gomringer is painted over on the facade of a Berlin university because women feel degraded. And it is wrong if a person is brought to the show trial because of an unrealized instinct for aggression.

Because this form of correctness does not want to protect the individual from a concrete injustice. She just closes her eyes to fantasies and affects that are not allowed to exist. Just like a child holds their hands in front of their face so they don't have to see something scary.

Racist tendencies, pedophilia or misogyny will not disappear. On the contrary: How should empathy, tolerance and ultimately an open political debate develop if our system of thought, but also our personal comfort, are not challenged?