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The Woke War on Language Reaches a New Crescendo

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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by Shane Harris
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AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

The AP Stylebook announced via Twitter last Thursday that “the” labels, as used in phrases like “the poor,” “the college-educated,” and even “the French,” are no longer acceptable, deeming them “too general” and “dehumanizing.” To those of us whose job isn’t inventing new things to be offended by, decreeing that the most common word in the English language is “insensitive” may seem trivial, silly, and completely unnecessary – and it is. But the ridiculousness of the AP’s edict doesn’t discount its real and harmful impact, nor the disturbing cultural trend it represents.

The AP Stylebook is what virtually every American high school and college student turns to for standard writing conventions – and is what their teachers and professors grade them against. A college student who writes “the homeless” instead of “people who are experiencing homelessness” in a public policy essay may now lose points on the assignment for failing to comply with AP style guidelines.

In other words, if students refuse to embrace the left’s wholesale rewrite of the English language, their grades will suffer. That should have every parent and politician concerned about indoctrination in schools on edge.

The AP is also just one of the prominent cultural institutions attempting to categorize everyday speech as “offensive.” In December, we learned that the language police at Stanford had spent 18 months and untold millions of dollars creating a list of “harmful language” that included words like “grandfather,” “prisoner,” “chief,” and even “American.” (Stanford administrators also included “crazy,” “dumb,” and “lame,” in their index of dangerous words, presumably to justify labeling their critics as bigots.)

USA Today “diversity and inclusion” reporter David Oliver similarly added “aloha,” “hola,” and “shalom” to the left’s banned words list earlier this month. “If you’re not Hawaiian and you say [aloha],” Oliver says, “it could come off as mockery.”

Other examples of the left’s attempt to contort and redefine language have gone more mainstream, like the term “Latinx,” which is used by virtually no Latinos and almost exclusively by non-Hispanic liberal elites. Merriam-Webster even changed the definition of the word “female” last year amid accusations from transgender activists that the biologically accurate definition of the word, which had remained unchanged since the dawn of language, was not “inclusive” enough.

If keeping up with all these rules about which words and phrases are and are not acceptable seems disorienting, that’s by design – confusion is a feature, not a bug of the left’s new language regime. The more you are consumed by worrying about whether or not each syllable you utter will offend someone, the more control the leftist language gatekeepers have over your speech, and by extension your thoughts.

George Orwell warned of just such a dystopian nightmare in his increasingly prophetic novel 1984.“The whole aim” of the political redefinition of language “is to narrow the range of thought,” he wrote. The end goal is to “make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

That is the reality we are fast approaching as our own linguistic overlords attempt to impose their very own version of Newspeak on us. Take, for example, the effort by the media and academia to rebrand “illegal immigrants” as “undocumented persons.” By removing the notion of illegality from the label used for someone who unlawfully crosses the border, and then denouncing all other labels as racist,” the left is attempting to force people to speak and think in terms that are favorable to their political agenda – to prevent the “thoughtcrime” of thinking illegal immigration is wrong.

A similar effort is underway with the word “groomer,” which the left has now declared to be “homophobic” to distract from their attempts to sexually indoctrinate children. As Donald Trump decried the failures of the “globalist” agenda during his 2016 campaign, the left also dubiously alleged the term had “anti-Semitic” roots – a claim that has been repeatedly debunked by Jewish scholars.

In each case, the left addressed a threat to liberal orthodoxy by merely asserting that the language that their critics used was “problematic” and “hateful.” The point is not to defend leftist ideology on its merits, but to use cancel culture and control of the media to silence the opposition altogether.

The left’s war on language, then, is part in parcel with their assault on the First Amendment more broadly. While not explicitly restricting the right to free speech, they threaten to make a social pariah of anyone who does not self-censor.

If this dangerous trend is left unchecked, “freedom,” “sanity,” and “common sense” may soon become taboo as well – if they aren’t already.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.

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Elena Tellez
Elena Tellez
1 year ago

This is total BS and insane. It has to be stopped. If we don’t pay heed to it in everyday life, it will likely go away as a stupid and short-lived fad. As for teachers’ unions and so-called educators, parents have to step up loudly and call them out … put a stop to censorship and ‘language police’ once and for all. Take our country back, bruthas and sistahs!

Patriot Will
Patriot Will
1 year ago

Yes, the left is definitely making more and more words politically and socially incorrect to increase the probability that more and more Americans will lose the ability to think for themselves. Biden and his supporters are doing everything possible to make us all into little mindless sheep. Individuality, creativity, and honesty are all positive character traits which are frowned upon by the Marxist Democrats.

lawrence greenberg
lawrence greenberg
1 year ago

The best way to deal with pompous, arrogant, Leftist control freaks is to ignore them. The First Amendment guarantees and protects our collective right to say anything we want short of making threats or defaming anyone. So I will speak when I want and say what I want, and if anyone doesn’t like it, I will tell them where they can go and exactly what unspeakable acts they can perform on themselves.

Kaarina Jager
Kaarina Jager
1 year ago

The Classics – have to be rewritten? Orwell wrote, purpose of that is to: “narrow the thought” – a disaster is waiting for America if this comes to pass.

Alicia
Alicia
1 year ago

The sad part about this whole thing is that changing the language to fight an established agenda of not offending someone has nothing to do with the words but the carrier of those who spoke them or are offended by them. Labels have been the down fall of how we have been treating each other for decades. It is a word or device used to separate out individuals so that we can define who and what they are. No one can be offended unless they agree or disagree. What needs to be established and dollars spent to really fix the problem is to show people how to love themselves, honor and cherish who they are, believe in their worth, forgive, know who they are, and just love. Changing the mind to the damage that society has placed on us as to believe that a word creates divide is a crime and yet it stays with us. Strengthen the heart, fix the minds perception and be positive, learn how to love!

Goldie
Goldie
1 year ago

This article is absolutely and unquestionably correct!
Talk about dumbing down of America, democrats and their demonic party are doing a darn good job of that.
I for one call a spade a spade and if no one likes it, that’s there problem.
Best way to handle all this wokeness and political correctness BS is to “AGREE to DISAGREE.”
Game over!!

Larry Mace
Larry Mace
1 year ago

There is another reason for the Left’s efforts to change the language. Subtle control. By changing the words we use, they reiterate just who is running things. It’s like the COVID mask, social distancing, and inoculation mandates — make it clear on the masses just who is in charge, here. Force those of us who believe in freedom and individual liberty to comply with THEIR wishes and rules, and total control will be much more easily instituted.

Myrna Wade
Myrna Wade
1 year ago

Freedom is the watch word.

Deb Rockwell
Deb Rockwell
1 year ago

It’s way past time to ignore these foolish crybabies. Stop providing an audience to their never ending temper tantrums and they will eventually stop.

Paul W
Paul W
1 year ago

Can anybody name one thing That “wokeism” professes that is based on data, precedent, legitimate science or just plain old truth? Can anyone name a single thing that “wokeism” espouses that isn’t designed to cause division, exclusion, anger or victimhood? Of course not because it’s ALL LIES! Every bit of it! What do the call satan again? Oh yeah, the great deceiver…hmmm.

David Whitton
David Whitton
1 year ago

I will use every opportunity to use “inappropriate” language. I think it’s called, “Freedom of Speech” and is guaranteed by the Constitution, if I remember correctly. Stanford University and the “AP Stylebook” (whatever that is”), along with the progressive morons in the Democratic Party can go straight to hell.

Michael J
Michael J
1 year ago

In the Bible, Jesus makes reference that ” the poor will always be amongst us”, so will that be one of the books destined for the fire pit? Do these woke idiots just make this up as they go or do they already know the order of release? Still, they’re still trying to ban the word Christmas.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 year ago

Control of the language started long ago Excuses for wrong decisions found and individual responsibility removed Language evolved to excuse wrong and scold the right Put the blame on good guy he is the culprit

Terrg
Terrg
1 year ago

Consecutives need to quit using the left’s language. I still use homosexual instead of gay. I use words like black, oriental, transvestite, handicap, Indian, illegals, etc. None of these words are bad. I see so many conservatives adapt their language to be politically correct.

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

This perversion of language started 50 years ago, at least. One of the first PC things was deleting the “universal ‘he'” in stories. If one didn’t know the sex of the person, “he” was used to describe the person. But to appease the “feminists” they first went to he/she, then the grammatically incorrect “they” used as a singular pronoun. That’s why the woke idiots still stress “pronouns.” That’s also why you get inanimate “Chairs” to describe people rather than the term “chairperson” or “chairman.”
Sounds like Orwell’s 1984 a bit, doesn’t it?

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

The wind them down Dan Washington Doug the Associated Press or AP is totally left-wing liberal woke. The style book that they publish is religiously used by print and media. I just called out one of our local TV stations for saying pregnant people. I told them what they are saying then is that men can get pregnant do they actually believe that? Their response was it’s not polite to say pregnant women AP style book calls for pregnant people. AP is controlling the conversation by controlling the language. The other big one they’re using now is it’s not pro-life you are anti-abortion. Subtle isn’t it, but Insidious. I agree 100% with some of the posts down below say whatever you want to say and tell them to go pound sand

CoNMTX
CoNMTX
1 year ago

We have gone well beyond the realm of stupid and ridiculous. The idiots on the left are now into unbelievable and laughable. It’s only purpose is to divide the population to suit the evil demo/socialists.

sdgorton
sdgorton
1 year ago

All woke supporters should be hunted down & imprisoned for life as traitors & terrorists. My preferred method is to hang them all in the public square

Melinda
Melinda
1 year ago

Young people should not go to college anymore, unless it’s for technical training or apprenticeship, although even that might include indoctrination. Most of the degrees are useless anyway.

Rik
Rik
1 year ago

Well, here’s a compliment to the Progressively Communist wannabe Democrats: we should show respect when addressing today’s Democrats as “Comrade”. . . . That’s ALL THE RESPECT they deserve!

Arlene
Arlene
1 year ago

Maybe we should just stop talking, just grunt and point.

Centurion
Centurion
1 year ago

Today I identify as Hawaiian so I can say aloha. The left MUST accept the identity I choose today because it’s their mantra.

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Nothing is forcing most Americans to comply with this insanity from the left. It is nothing more than a means to try and force the American public to comply with whatever the left happens to dictate from day to day. Show a little backbone and push back. All you have to do is simply ignore their dictates and continue to speak and write in the manner you did before these self-important fools dreamed up this idiotic nonsense. If that offends these snowflakes, then that is THEIR problem, not yours.

Patricia A Arsenault
Patricia A Arsenault
1 year ago

I’ll say WHAT I WANT & WHEN I WANT and to WHOM I want to say it! PERIOD! #AmericaFirst

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
1 year ago

The gender-neutral ‘HEY YOU” will work in most situations. Stanford administrator should be on our naughty word list.

Kim L.
Kim L.
1 year ago

Oh, for Heaven’s sake! I grew up in the 60’s-70’s and was called all sorts of names, we all were at one time or another! I survived. I’m fine! My mom would always tell me, “You can be hurt and offended only if you choose to be.” That said, I’ll be dog-gone if I’m going to refer to a silly list of imaginary insensitive words when conversing with someone. I was raised to be kind to everyone and would not intentionally offend anyone. If by chance I use a word deemed “harmful language” by the AP, I’m probably not going to lose a lot of sleep over it!

William J McCrain
William J McCrain
1 year ago

“The Dum” + “The Stupid” = The Woke Generation.

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

Shane forgot the golden rule of AP you don’t like it stick it in your ear .

LauraC
LauraC
1 year ago

Yeah, all we have to do is refuse to play the game. I’m pretty sure The French, Americans and college educated people will thank us for it.

Glen
Glen
1 year ago

All these compliments of the woke, mentally ill crowd who believe men can get pregnant and give birth, and that you can deny your own biology and become anything you want. If you like being a dog or cat better than being a human, you can become a “furry”. This is what happens in society when the government gives all your tax dollars away for stupid causes while shutting down all the mental health institutions that used to help the mentally ill return to normalcy. Instead of helping these people, they have decided that the majority who are in their right minds must cater to the fantasies of the woke. We must refuse to believe what we see, a man or woman standing before us, and ask them what pronouns they “identify with” so we do not offend them and send them into having a hissy fit.

Ann S
Ann S
1 year ago

Freedom has left America already. From all sides they are closing us in. Is it any wonder that suicides are up.
I was born before WW II and spend my youth under suppression and the last 3 years I feel the same suppression again.
During WWII you better keep your mouth shut and here we are again. It is all a plan to control the people and commit genocide in the name of COVID vaccin and climate change. They are busy to forbid all meats in name of climate change. Why is there a war in the largest wheat producing country in the world?
Think about it.

Phil
Phil
1 year ago

sticks and stones no longer hurt me words will now always hurt me

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
1 year ago

To Shane Harris, Thanks Shane for this article about language. I believe that the way people speak reflects the way they think, so this leftist attempt to rearrange the language is an attempt to change how people think , to rearrange thought patterns on key political and social issues. Their way of thinking is in my opinion as twisted as a corkscrew. Myrna Wade made a comment on your article here and I praised her for it as I believe it got right to the point of how to regard this leftist nonsense. She wrote ,
” Freedom is the watch word .” So, depending on the circumstances this assault on the language can be regarded as leftist nonsense, but it can have serious implications too, some that you mentioned in your article and the issue needs to be dealt with accordingly. The plan , the strategy , involved in the manipulation of the language by the leftists is obvious, so
having a belief system at the ready to counter their propaganda is appropriate. In other words, the leftists should be stopped whenever possible in the attacks on language, and one way to do that is to recognize what their targets may be and be prepared to stop the language attack with ideas
that will reflect right thinking, respectful
thinking and normal thinking.
In the spirit of everything that encourages good character, good citizenship, respect for law and the will of God, respect for life and freedom.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Excellent article.
Webster definition of WOKE…LOSER, BRAINDEAD, STUPID, COMMUNIST, IGNORANT, DUMB, LIVES IN FANTASY WORLD, DETACHED FROM REALITY, DELUSIONAL.
In short…Just straight out DUMB ASS and CAN’T THINK INTELLIGENTLY.
WOKE is the ‘DUH’ generation.
Translation: STUPID believing FASCIST liberals Lies.
A generation lost to INDOCTRINATION.
What a WASTE.
Welcome to the BRAINDEAD WOKE.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
1 year ago

To Shane Harris , Giving this very serious matter further thought and considering what you mentioned in the article about the AP Stylebook I reckon there should be an alternative to the AP Stylebook,since that is apparently a large source of the trouble in this matter. And you mentioned that the teachers for high school and college are using that as their standard for grading what students write, so that is something that needs to be corrected too. It is always interesting to see how things are connected in various systems and it looks as if there are many things interconnected with this language attack strategy by the leftists. As I mentioned in previous comment one way to deal with this matter is to counter the leftist language attacks with right thinking, respectful thinking and normal thinking . An alternative to the AP Stylebook would be a project that would need to be ongoing, that is, continuous , something that would as accurately as possible anticipate where the next language attack will be and be at the ready to have good sense, American ingenuity , and thought based on Honor, Honesty, Integrity, Courage, and Loyalty used in the defense . I believe in not letting the leftists win , not giving them another inch and we Americans who respect freedom, respect the will of God, can stop or at least keep the damage done by this corruption of the language to a minimum.
.

Michael Stevens
Michael Stevens
1 year ago

Wont the folks at the AP be suprised when their customers flee to other news sources. I believe it is happening slowly. In many instances WOKE just might = BROKE. Fortunately, we still have the capability to turn that s*^$# OFF!

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

Any parent who is sending their children to ANY school, at any level, that supports this stupidity is getting exactly what they deserve. I’ll use all of these words any time I damn well please, the AP Stylebook can shove it.

Papa
Papa
1 year ago

I now know the true meaning of STUPID ! AP should be ashamed to print this stupidity !
I say we boycott AP !

Man
Man
1 year ago

Your paying theses idiots to much to come up with stupid!

Lisa Skinner
Lisa Skinner
1 year ago

Seriously, “the people” who come up with this ???? are “the stupidest people” and need to get a life and stop telling others what to say and do!!!

Mama T
Mama T
1 year ago

For those of us in the AMAC age, it seems easy enough to dismiss AP Stylebook, but you are missing the indoctrination of our children. The left has been indoctrinating our kids in public schools for years. Sure, easy enough for us adults to say I’ll say what I want to say how ever I want to say it, but how does a 5 year old tell their teacher, no I am a he or a she when told they can’t say that? Or an 11 year tell their teacher “them” is grammatically incorrect when used singularly. Or a 17 year old trying to get high grades tell their teacher “I don’t follow the IP style book. We can’t dismiss this as foolishness, although it is, take this issue seriously. Check out “The John Birch Society” to read on the government’s Marxism indoctrination of our schools.

TheHoneyBadger
TheHoneyBadger
1 year ago

If I can’t say Aloha, Hola, or Shalom, I guess I’ll just start using “Grüß Gott!” instead????????

TMarie
TMarie
1 year ago

Our US Constitutional Freedoms of Freedom of Speech/Religion/Press, is clearly being challenged.

All US Congress who PROMISED under OATH to PROTECT our Rights should be fired if they try and limit our Free Speech.

Rik
Rik
1 year ago

These Democratic Jackasses just want to CONTROL the People. . . . If they are allowed to getaway with this they’ll be able to getaway with anything! . . . As long as I live I will call out the truth no matter how much I get villafied for it. I’ll just remind them that I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH just as much as they do!

Bubba_In_NC
Bubba_In_NC
1 year ago

I find the words bigot and racist too generalized, stereotypical and offensive. Please have AP remove those words as well.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
1 year ago

Since there’s no such thing anymore, they should ban calling anyone “Democrats” while they’re at.

'@rtsy1
'@rtsy1
1 year ago

If the author of this article has zero suggestions for stopping this abuse of language, complaining that we need to stop it (and we do) is not very helpful, and renders the article somewhat “moot”.

Dallas H
Dallas H
1 year ago

Seems like a lot of unnecessary handwringing to me. Except for possibly the college student having to deal with arbitrary professors, why should I be concerned which words I use, as long as they are accurate, pertinent and in context? It appears you are trying to assuage the contrary word-police, instead of speaking your mind with the traditionally defined words as we learned them, so you won’t offend anyone. Hopefully you realize that’s a fool’s errand, since being offended is a vocation and pastime for many of that persuasion.

Granny26
Granny26
1 year ago

This is a free country and we have ‘freedom of speech’ and I will say what I feel, etc. Don’t like it, don’t listen.

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