Lee Greenwood may want to keep quiet about how he’s proud to be an American the next time he visits Stanford University.
The word “American” is one of dozens on the chopping block under the university‘s Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative, launched in May by Stanford‘s University IT department to eradicate “racist, violent and biased” language in websites and code.
The 13-page document lists terms under categories such as “Ableist,” “Colonialist” and “Culturally Appropriative,” and suggests replacement words. For “American,” the preferred term is “U.S. Citizen.”
“This term often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas (which is actually made up of 42 countries),” the initiative reads.
Among those pushing back is Stanford School of Medicine professor Jay Bhattacharya.
“I remember how proud I was when I became a naturalized American citizen. I’m still proud to be an American, and I don’t care that @Stanford disapproves of my using the term,” Mr. Bhattacharya tweeted.
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The document, now hidden behind a secure sign-in on the website but still available through a link on the Stanford Review, also frowns on “Hispanic” and suggests “Latinx,” even though a 2020 Pew Research poll found only 3% of U.S. Hispanics surveyed use the term.
Other disfavored words: “abort” (“can unintentionally raise religious/moral concerns over abortion”); “user” (“associated with those who suffer from substance abuse issues or those who exploit others for their own gain”); “guys” and “seminal” (“reinforces male-dominated language”), and “master” (“Historically, masters enslaved people”).
Even “grandfather” and “grandfathered” are out because they have “roots in the ‘grandfather clause’ adopted by Southern states to deny voting rights to Blacks.” Instead, the initiative recommends saying “legacy” or “legacy status.”
Indeed, many of the alternatives are wordier. For example, the list recommends replacing “addict” with “person with a substance use disorder,” and “mentally ill” with “person living with a mental health condition.”
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A “survivor” or a “victim” should be called “a person who has experienced …,” a suggestion sure to give fits to headline writers.
Anyone accused of being a “Karen” may not appreciate the replacement, which is “demanding or entitled White woman.”
In addition, “people of color” is out, and “BIPOC” — for “Black, Indigenous and people of color” — is in. “Preferred pronouns” should be replaced with “pronouns,” because the word “preferred” suggests “that non-binary gender identity is a choice and a preference,” according to the initiative.
The words on the blacklist — which includes “blacklist” — were compiled in reaction to the December 2020 Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Action, published by the Stanford CIO Council (CIOC) and People of Color in Technology (POC-IT) affinity group.
Needless to say, the list has been roundly mocked on the right.
“Stanford disapproves of saying you’re proud to be an American? Whoa,” Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted.
The Stanford Review, the university‘s conservative publication, sought to include as many of the disfavored terms as possible in a Monday post, titled “Big Brother is Watching You: Stanford‘s New ‘Harmful Language’ Guide.”
“[W]e are calling on all students to be brave and liberally use all words POC-IT considers harmful, so at least their guide will have another use besides a laughing-stock,” the Stanford Review said.