Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Legislating Language

Think the charges of the Left manipulating the meaning of language is far-fetched? Here is a prime example that just popped up yesterday:
Bill would mandate nicer term for illegals
TALLAHASSEE -- A state legislator whose district is home to thousands of Caribbean immigrants wants to ban the term "illegal alien" from the state's official documents.

"I personally find the word 'alien' offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children," said Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. "An alien to me is someone from out of space."

She has introduced a bill providing that: "A state agency or official may not use the term 'illegal alien' in an official document of the state."
"There are students in our schools whose parents are trying to become citizens and we shouldn't label them," she said. "They are immigrants, through no fault of their own, not aliens."

Wilson said the first word isn't as bad as the second.

"'Illegal,' I can live with, but I like 'undocumented' better," she said.
What an ironic statement. Yes, you will indeed be living with illegals...

So the perfectly descriptive and accurate term "illegal alien" would become "undocumented immigrant", which obviously connotes someone who is just requiring some paperwork that gosh, we have a responsibility to produce, and pronto!

Asked if her bill (SB 2154) might run afoul of Gov. Charlie Crist's "plain speaking" mandate for government agencies, Wilson said, "I think getting rid of 'alien' would be plain speaking."
The whole thing about "alien" being "from outer space" is also totally disingenuous.

It's playing deliberately playing dumb to try to delegitimize the proper meaning of the word.

That's exactly the tactics of language manipulation.

I mean, come on, you stupid cow, did you think the word "alien" suddenly popped into existence in the age of Space Travel?

Hmm, let's see, the online dictionary says
Middle English, from Old French, from Latin aliēnus, from alius, other; see al-1 in Indo-European roots
alien (adj.)
1340, "strange, foreign," from O.Fr. alien, from L. alienus "of or belonging to another," adj. form of alius "(an)other" (see alias). Meaning "of another planet" first recorded 1944 in science fiction writing; the noun in this sense is from 1953. The noun sense of "foreigner" is first attested 1330. An alien priory (1502) is one owing obedience to a mother abbey in a foreign country.
I've often jibed that the historical memory of Leftists doesn't seem to extend back beyond 1968. Well here's firm evidence that I was actually not too far off! This legislator seems to only know the word's latest shade of meaning since 1944, and claims to be unaware of the previous six hundred years of usage!

The definitions of the noun form are:
al·ien –noun
1. a resident born in or belonging to another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization (distinguished from citizen).
2. a foreigner.
3. a person who has been estranged or excluded.
4. a creature from outer space; extraterrestrial.
The "outer space" sense is the fourth definition!

Unless education is rescued immediately -- meaning, in addition to basic Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, an emphasis on history, geography, basic philosophy and logic, patriotism, and civics (as an American public education should not attempt to turn out either craftspeople nor professors, but good citizens) -- the representative democracy is doomed to being hijacked by charlatans and pollsters.

And by "history", it MUST NOT be presented from the oh-so-popular Marxist school of interpretation, but the out-of-favor so-called Great Man school, which is much more accessible and exciting to young students.

Social Studies, World Cultures, New Math, and Communications would be cut in my scheme.

And don't forget a brief intro to Latin!

Make good little Neo-Victorians out of 'em!

UPDATE: An aside on schools of historical thought.

This kind of makes sense, doesn't it?
The Great man theory is a theory held by some that aims to explain history by the impact of "Great men", or heroes: highly influential individuals, either from personal charisma, genius intellects, or great political impact.
It is often linked to 19th century philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle, who commented that "The history of the world is but the biography of great men."
So it's an Anglo-Victorian theory. And guess who opposes it:
The editors of the influential 18th century French encyclopedia Encyclopedie were ideologically opposed to biographies because they believed too much ink had already been spilled on hagiographies of church fathers and deeds of kings, and not enough about the average person or life in general.
Many historians believe that a history which only follows around single persons, especially when their significance is determined primarily by political status, is a shallow view of the past, and that sometimes such a view excludes entire groups of people from being parts of the study of history.
So it's all about an artificial "fairness", instead of the powerful and the politicians -- who, by definition, were the ones making the decisions.

Such additional details may be interesting, but for getting students interested in history, biographies of the powerful are far more effective.

Worst of all,
This critique has spread to other fields such as literary criticism, in which Stephen Greenblatt's New Historicism argues that societies play roles in creating works of art, not just authors.
Marvelous! I now take personal credit, however small, for Hamlet!

What? I shouldn't take credit for works produced in my past society? Then why do I take blame for my past society's sins?

The pernicious result of Marxist interpretation and the Annales school is to obliterate the importance of the individual, and to render the notion of objectivity invalid, thus making it difficult if not impossible to counter attacks on our cultural norms.

Marxist history in fact has a distinct goal; it is not neutral:
Marxist history is generally teleological, in that it posits a direction of history, towards an end state of history as classless human society. Marxist historiography, that is, the writing of Marxist history in line with the given historiographical principles, is generally seen as a tool. Its aim is to bring those oppressed by history to self-consciousness, and to arm them with tactics and strategies from history: it is both a historical and a liberatory project.
Its adherents are therefore inherently hostile to Western culture as we know it.


Blogger The_Bad said...

God forbid we offend lawbreakers!

11:35 AM, March 01, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home