Because the intellectual left (using the term loosely) operates in a virtual theoretical world, they have a propensity to change the language. They cannot abide by words and terms that have specific meaning, so they create euphemisms as a form of political discipline.
I was reminded of this when I heard a White House economic advisor say that we are not in a recession – even though two-quarters of negative growth has been the standard definition of a recession since I earned my economics degree in college. And that was a long time ago. He said that we are experiencing a “complex recovery.” The only explanation for the change in lexicology is to avoid using the word that reflects the proper meaning because the proper meaning is a political negative.
I noticed that the left-wing commentators and even medical officials have abandoned the words “homosexual” and “gay.” In discussing the Monkey Pox virus, they say it is mostly found in “men who have sex with men.” If you say “gay men,” you save four unnecessary words. If you say “homosexuals,” it is a five-word saving. And both terms would serve the purpose.
The idea of changing the language to suit political purposes is not new. It is just much more ridiculous in the days of divisiveness, political correctness and identity politics. Even those terms are concocted to make something evil sound good. “Political correctness” is not correct at all. It is a term used to suggest that only those on the left have a correct view of politics. And “Identity politics” is a euphemism for “tribalism.” It also endorses the absurd idea that we can self-identify against the facts of gender, race and general biology.
Another of the newer language impositions is using the description of a person of African ancestry – a colored person, as in the National Association of Colored people – to create the meaningless and non-descriptive “people-of-color.” Probably no group in America has had their collective name changed more than those with African ancestry. Leaving the pejoratives aside, they were properly known as Negroes. That is a perfectly acceptable term but considered by the left to be somehow offensive — or at least contemporary not in keeping with liberal theology.
“Negro” gave way to colored person … to African American … to Black. And now they are lumped into the “people-of-color” political designation along with Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Middle Easterners and God knows who else. (I am okay with the change from “Indians” to “Native Americans” since the original appellation was the product of ignorance by the early explorers, colonists and pioneers.)
One of the older offensive bureaucratic euphemisms is used to describe civilians killed in war. We know the term as “collateral damage.” Can you manage anything more disgusting than to relegate dead victims of war as incidental “damage?”
Left-wing feminists were successful in getting major corporations to rename the “secretaries” as “executive assistants.” Unions pushed to have “janitors” renamed as “custodial engineers.” In most cases, the new term did not reflect a change in job description or pay – but simply a more impressive title. This conforms to the left’s tendency to be more concerned about symbolism than reality. The upgrading of titles led to endless jokes — like “hitmen” being referred to as “population control enforcers.”
Identity politics was the slippery slope that has led to a nonsensical ideology of arbitrary self-description. We no longer have to live with biological realities – the science. If a male or female simply wished to declare themselves to be the opposite sex, we ae expected to accept that as reality. Dressing in the style of the opposite sex is okay if you like, but that does not change the biological reality. (I am not talking about those who go through sex-change procedures. That is a different issue with its own set of controversies.)
According to progressive ideology, a person can declare themselves to have no gender. They are “non-binary.” There is now an official list of pronouns that individuals may assume with the expectation that they will be accepted as such by the greater society. Left-wing government supports this anti-science nonsense. Official forms now have a box for “Birth Gender” and another box for “Declared Gender.”
According to the University of Wisconsin:
“People who are limited by languages which do not include gender neutral pronouns have attempted to create them, in the interest of greater equality.”
According to the explanation, these are “gender-neutral pronouns that can be used to refer to people who are non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, trans, and/or don’t identify with the gender binary.” No matter what pronoun a person selects for themselves, it does not change the meaning of “he” and “she.” No one is genderless – and there are sufficient simple words to describe various sexual preferences.
We see how this self-determination over scientific fact is used politically by the left to create divisive demographic tribes for political advantage.
Gender is determined by DNA and physiology. A person can change physiology, but not DNA. We have a perfectly good name for those folks. That is “transgender.” They can change most of the body’s physiology – but not all. And none of the DNA.
I am reminded of what Abraham Lincoln once said. If you consider a dog’s tail as a leg, how many legs would a dog have? People often say “five.” To which Lincoln responded that the answer is “four.” A tail is not a leg just because you call it that.
I think that sums up the problem with all this self-determination stuff. The purpose of language is clarity – not confusion and controversy. That is something those on the left do not understand.
So, there ‘tis.