Thursday, February 09, 2017

Illegal Aliens? Undocumented Democrats? Or What?

There's nothing inherently wrong with fiddling with terminology in these ways. There are problems, however. I'd say the following...though I can already tell you that I'm not going to spend enough time on this to end up with parallel construction in the items...:
One preliminary point:
It's a little weird that so much attention is given to working out exactly which term most accurately describes people in the country illegally...when the press then goes on to repeatedly say 'immigrant' (unmodified) when discussing illegal immigrants. The very most important distinction in this discussion is repeatedly blurred...in a way that obviously favors the left. I think this is the kind of thing that conservatives have in mind when they say that the "MSM" has a liberal/left-wing bias. Even phantom inaccuracies in terminology that is out of favor on the left can be cited as grounds for insisting that everyone must change how they speak; but even the most glaring inaccuracies can be ignored if ignoring them benefits the left.
Anyway. As for these terminological battles:
[a] The left does entirely too much of this stuff. It produces an ever-shifting panoply of terminology. There's simply too much of this sort of thing. It's become comical. At some point we get to ignore it.
[b] They're dogmatic and otherwise loony about these ever-changing terminological fashions, and tend to insist that any deviation from this week's preferred terminology is bigotry. (This is in keeping with the left's weird obsession with language.)
They pretend that they are aiming for accuracy. However:
[c] I don't think I'm going way out on a limb when I suggest that their primary goal is tactical/political. Terminology chosen by the PC left is intended to spin (or "frame" as they like to say) issues in a way favorable to them.
[d] Accuracy is used as a stalking-horse, but is a criterion only when it serves their political goals. When it doesn't, accuracy is ignored, bad arguments are deployed, etc. etc. (e.g. 'African-American,' was never a synonym of 'black'; the "no person is illegal" argument is just dumb (see e.g.; 'illegal contractor').)
[e] Although the feelings of the relevant group are also given heavy weight--and should be--that only goes so far--especially when they can be manipulated by academic/activist fashion. Groups should probably be given some latitude with respect to the terms that we use to refer to them...but it's not clear that you can make a term rude or bigoted just by declaring it so. There is nothing at all wrong with 'Oriental,' nor with 'American Indian'--but they were turned into Bad Words largely, apparently, by the whims of activists, not by a genuine antecedent aversion among the relevant groups. Especially in the context of constant PC attempts to micro-manage language, the line's got to be drawn somewhere.
   There's nothing terribly wrong with 'illegal alien,' as the Obama administration noted. I actually think that 'alien' is better than 'immigrant', because the latter seems to indicate that such a person is here to stay...which is...exactly what the left wants, no? Anyway, it's an attempt to assimilate illegal "immigrants" to ordinary, legal immigrants. Again, per the Obama administration arguments, I don't think 'illegal' is that bad either, even if it's a bit inaccurate. But I don't care what we use, so long as we settle on something that isn't too inaccurate / politically slanted and isn't too insulting to ordinary members of the group. We can't let activists and activist academics run the terminological debate, because those people are nuts.
   I still think our old friend TVD's "undocumented Democrats" is freaking hilarious, I must admit.
   Anyway. It's really hard to have an honest debate with this kind of crap muddies the waters.

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