Corruption Of Language

Many of my youthful Saturday afternoons were spent at the theater watching Tarzan or Jungle Jim fighting in the swamps and jungles against the forces of evil. There were swamps and jungles because we saw them. When have you last heard the words swamps

and jungles? Have swamps and jungles disappeared from the face of the earth? No, for political purposes, they've been renamed. They're now wetlands and rain forests. The public can't be whipped into a frenzy about saving swamps and jungles, but wetlands and rain forests are a different matter. Everybody's onboard with the new terminology except the military. They're still calling combat dress clothing jungle camouflage. They should rename their combat dress rain forest camouflage.

Years ago there were bums, vagabonds, tramps and hobos. They too have disappeared. Now we have homeless people. That causes temporary confusion. When a person asks me, "Will you help the homeless?", I don't know whether I'm being asked to assist someone whose home was lost in a tornado, flood or hurricane, or a shiftless bum. Use of homeless is the leftist agenda to establish moral equivalency between tragedy that's an act of God and self-inflicted tragedy.

There's another term confusing to me - care giver. If someone said, "I saw the girl walking down the street with her caregiver.", with whom would you think she was walking? It might be her mother, father, babysitter, seeing-eye dog, doctor, lawyer, policeman, hair dresser - the possibilities are endless. So why cause confusion? Just say, "She was walking with her father."

Just as confusing is the classification native American. Whenever I have to fill out a form that has a block where one can classify himself as a "Native American", I always check that block, and urge you to do so too if you were born in the U.S. The African-American classification poses problems too. What if a person of Afrikaner or Egyptian ancestry were born in the U.S., would he be an African-American?

On many of America's college campuses, there are courses such as "Violence and Gender" and "Gender Inequality." Sustained, intransigent, ignorance might be excusable elsewhere but not on a college campus. Gender is a grammatical term: "the classification by which nouns and pronouns (and often accompanying modifiers) are grouped or inflected." For example, in French, "le" is the article for the masculine gender and "la" the article for the feminine gender. Gender and sex are two different concepts. They are not interchangeable. Plus, it would sound funny to say, "He had gender with his wife."

Aside from ignorance, college professors can be silly too. What used to be the position of department chairman is now the sexually neutral department chair. I hold such a position at George Mason University and refuse to identify myself as Chair. On occasions, when referred to as chair, I've offered to prove to the speaker that I am a chairman.

Sticking with the college scene a little more, presidents pretend to assume the moral high ground by pointing to the importance they place on campus diversity. Whatever they mean by diversity, they darn sure don't mean political diversity. Most colleges are leftist bastions. Very often 90 percent or more of its faculty and administrators are Democrats. What presidents really mean by diversity is that they are for race and sex quotas, but not political quotas.

John Milton predicted, "When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation." Just in case you're puzzled by our national moral decline.

Walter E. Williams
c23-99
June 18, 1999
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