George Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English Language” in 1946, “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
That was one of the major themes of “1984.” Newspeak, doublethink, contracting the language until thoughtcrimes could not exist.
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?” Orwell wrote in “1984.” “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
This is the aim of political correctness. To scrub the language of offensive language until the concept can no longer be formed in the mind.
This was the first thing that popped into mind when an alert reader forwarded to me the latest adulteration of the AP Stylebook, the bible of journalistic etiquette and word usage. For years The Associated Press language referees resisted the plea of the politically correct to ban the term “illegal immigrant.” A person isn’t illegal the argument went.
My printed copy of the 2011 Stylebook, handed down by a reporter friend who had been given the 2012 version, reads, “illegal immigrant Used to describe someone who has entered the country illegally or who resides in the country illegally. It is the preferred term, not illegal alien or undocumented worker.”
But now the entry will read:
“illegal immigration Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant.
“Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.
“Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.
“Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution.
“Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?
“People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally. For people granted a temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, use temporary resident status, with details on the program lower in the story.”
As one wag I know has joked on this subject: Next we’ll be told to refer to illegal drug traffickers as undocumented pharmacists and thieves will be called unelected politicians.
I agree with what columnist Michelle Malkin suggested to counter this language manipulation and capitulation to political correctness:
“I propose that we banish the term ‘journalist’when referring to members of mainstream news organizations who pose as neutral news-gathers while carrying out a blatantly ideological agenda. From now on, AP’s staffers shall be described in my columns as ‘alleged practitioners of journalism’ or ‘journalists’ only when using direct quotations.”
Or we could call them Big Brother’s little brothers.