Since the 1960s, a “correct” political language has been imposed on Americans.
For example, none of the following set of terms was in the New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language in 1971: African-American, entitlement, environmentalism, Hispanic, multiculturalism, Native American, nonjudgmental, sexism, victimization. Just 15 years later, all of these leftist terms were in Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary of 1986.
A further sampling from now-widespread leftist terminology would include: feminism, Chicano, sensitivity training, homelessness, consciousness-raising, right-wing extremism, Islamophobia, bullying, male chauvinism, no-fault divorce, racial profiling, lifestyle, Christian fundamentalism, social safety net, bilingual education, sexual harassment, hate speech, underprivileged, same-sex marriage, and social justice — the politically correct synonym for socialism.
Left-wing activists have seen to it that students entering universities receive lists of forbidden words, such as the use of “man” in generic reference to human beings (for example, the word “congressman” for any member of Congress, which is said to be an affront to women). Those lists provide substitute diction for the censored words (e.g. “freshperson” for freshman).
American children nowadays begin learning the concepts of environmentalism and homosexual “marriage” as early as first and second grade.
Language activists also redefine words. “Discrimination,” which used to mean to make distinctions, now means to manifest prejudices. “Abortion” used to mean destroying human life in the womb; now it means the right to choose without regard to what is chosen. The word “diversity” had its meaning changed to the forced matriculation, hiring and promotion of “underrepresented classes.” The term “budget cut” now refers to an increase in government funding that is below the previous year’s percentage of increase.
Even core words of America’s culture have been redefined. “Freedom” has become liberation from the authority of the Ten Commandments. “Equality” means giving special privileges to “victims of oppression.” “Patriotism” means the desire to transform America.
The goal in many of these vocabulary changes is to form a new primary identity. By giving women, blacks, persons of Mexican ancestry, homosexuals and other such “identity groups” a sense of belonging to oppressed biological classes, language activists have forged a weapon for class struggle that is more effective than economic status.
When oppression is defined biologically — skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation — the idea of oppression persists no matter how well off an individual may be because no one can change his or her biology. Oppression based on biology can only be eliminated through cultural “transformation” (i.e., the creation of a new culture).
The widespread use of politically correct language is “deconstructing” American culture. Our shared belief in God-given, equal birthrights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is being destroyed, along with belief in constitutional government, Judeo-Christian morality, marriage, the free market and personal responsibility. These American cultural beliefs are being replaced by the ideas that society is responsible for everybody’s welfare, that government regulation must be centralized and unlimited, that only justice that is “social” matters and that “saving the planet” has far greater value than the “greed” that leftists claim is the essence of a free-market economy.
After two generations of being browbeaten by accusations of “sexism” and “racism,” many Americans have accepted the ideology of the left and have stopped acting on the cultural beliefs that made us a great nation and have attracted more immigrants to the United States than to any other country in the world.
Candidates for Congress often promise to make decisions to rein in runaway government spending. The politically correct language that is producing socialistic ways of thinking and behaving here in America prevent those promises from being kept.
John Harmon McElroy is a retired University of Arizona professor and author of “Divided We Stand” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).