Eureka! The Shocking Origin Of “Politically Correct” [UPDATE: This Is Apparently A Hoax]

The didn't say

They didn’t call him “Give ’em Hell Harry!” for nothing.

CORRECTION: I am shocked to learn this  a hoax, because I would not expect the two sources involved, both of whom make a serious avocation of verifying quotes, to be fooled. Rees has written a book on the topic of political correctness, and Tom annoys his friends by checking Snopes on almost anything he runs across. I apologize, and as usual, I’m annoyed, because I hate web hoaxes to pieces. The Snopes debunking is here: my thanks to faithful reader Phlinn, who first flagged this.


Now I’m going to have a word with my old friend…

From my old friend (we go back to 1970 together) and frequent theatrical collaborator Tom Fuller, an intermittent contributor here, comes this fascinating historical snippet regarding the origin of the term “politically correct.” Tom’s British source, the author of the Politically Correct Phrasebook (1993), initially placed the phase’s origin to the 1980s, which is when I first recall hearing it and detesting it. However, Tom informs me that BBC’s Nigel Rees has uncovered much earlier source: President Harry S. Truman.

From Rees’ quotation newsletter, as relayed to me by Tom—and this is, if accurate, amazing…

“Now I have just been handed an explosive use of the term – apparently in its modern sense – but dating from 1945. It comes in an exchange of telegrams re the Japanese surrender between General Douglas MacArthur and President Harry S Truman on the day before the actual signing of the Surrender Agreement in September 1945. An unnamed source at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, provided them – and not a word has been added or deleted … I hope they are genuine:

(1) Tokyo, Japan 0800-September 1,1945

To: President Harry S Truman From: General D A MacArthur

Tomorrow we meet with those yellow-bellied bastards and sign the Surrender Documents, any last minute instructions?

(2) Washington, D C 1300-September 1, 1945

To: D A MacArthur

From: H S Truman

Congratulations, job well done, but you must tone down your obvious dislike of the Japanese when discussing the terms of the surrender with the press, because some of your remarks are fundamentally not politically correct!

(3) Tokyo, Japan 1630-September 1, 1945

To: H S Truman F

From: D A MacArthur and C H Nimitz

Wilco Sir, but both Chester and I are somewhat confused, exactly what does the term politically correct mean?

(4) Washington, D C 2120-September 1, 1945

To: D A MacArthur/C H Nimitz

From: H S Truman

Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end!

Now that’s politically incorrect!

23 thoughts on “Eureka! The Shocking Origin Of “Politically Correct” [UPDATE: This Is Apparently A Hoax]

    • It is a rat. Tom will get a rebuke from me, and I just posted an update. As I say there, this is the firts time he has ever been caught by a quote hoax, as he is the ultimate skeptic. I’m sure the “mainstream media” line would have raised his suspicians if he didn’t consider HIS source impeccable.

      This stuff really pisses me off. “If hate were a country, I’d be China!

  1. I hate fake news sites and hoaxes, too. There was an article going around last week or so stating that Donald Trump had declared that all teachers need to be paid is minimum wage, as they’re just glorified babysitters. I went to the origin of the article, and after searching high and low, I see a disclaimer (the ‘about’ section, not declared on the main page) that the articles are ‘satire’. The comments section (and my FB feed) was filled with enraged comments about how ‘he just lost my vote’. There had been one about Christie a couple of weeks before that.

    Good satire is easily understood as such. You’d never mistake one of the Onion’s articles for real news. It’s either ‘satire’ written by people tone deaf to satire, or willful propaganda…I’m assuming the latter.

    I have never seen one of these ‘satire’ news sites write anything about a Democrat.

  2. I’ve seen that definition frequently over the past seven or eight years but had never seen it attributed to any individual. Like you, I despise these hoaxes and like your friend I’ve become almost compulsive in checking things out on Snopes before passing along anything. “The problem with internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy” -Abraham Lincoln, 1864

      • “The problem with internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy” -Abraham Lincoln, 1864″

        I would have swallowed that, Jim, if it weren’t for the absence of the apostrophe in can’t.

        Here’s the one to live by:
        “Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.”
        ― Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary

  3. Yep, probably a hoax although I am a little suspicious of as the source of the “research”. It certainly doesn’t seem like a telegram that MacArthur would send to Truman given his skepticism of a mere former artillery captain running the country. Patton perhaps if he somehow was negotiating the surrender of Germany and sending a telegram to Eisenhower. Truman would have never put those words in a telegram either.

  4. Did the phrase “mainstream media” sound odd from Truman?

    The hoaxers managed not to hide that one.

    Politically correct is derived purely from victimization mongering, and I don’t think anyone then considered the Japanese victims.

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