Yesterday the NY Times published a piece on the left’s focus on changing the language to suit their outlook. The Times piece isn’t hostile to the new language or the people who enforce usage of the new terms but it does allow people to express genuine bewilderment.
In Chicago, Kelsey O’Donnell, 31, wonders why colleagues and friends have suddenly started saying “BIPOC,” an acronym that encompasses individuals who are Black, Indigenous or other people of color. Where had it come from? “There was really nobody to ask,” says Ms. O’Donnell, who is white. “It was just, ‘This is what we say now.’”…
The new language extends beyond race, adding phrases and introducing ideas that are new to many Americans. Gender-neutral terms like “Latinx,” for people of Latin American descent, “they/them” pronouns that refer to a single person, and “birthing parent” or “pregnant people” instead of “mother,” to be inclusive of trans people, are also gaining traction…
Ms. O’Donnell of Chicago said that, especially when she is among other white, college-educated liberals, “I’m exhausted by the constant need to be wary or you’ll instantly be labeled racist or anti-trans.”
The story notes that “BIPOC” received its first dictionary entry this year. It’s essentially a brand new word made up by activists on Twitter in 2013. It wasn’t part of anyone’s speech prior to last year. Now it seems to be everywhere. But just like the made-up word “Latinx” it’s more popular with woke white people than it is with minorities. [emphasis added]
One reason BIPOC has engendered both backlash and bewilderment, said Nicole Holliday, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, is because it seems to be an example of “top-down language reform.” Widely shared over social media last year, its champions have said it is intended to emphasize the severity of racial injustice on Black and Indigenous people. But few Black or Indigenous people use it, language scholars say.
In a national poll conducted by Ipsos for The New York Times, more than twice as many white Democrats said they felt “very favorably” toward “BIPOC” as Americans who identify as any of the nonwhite racial categories it encompasses…
For white liberals especially, “there is social pressure to engage with these words in the social moment,” Dr. Hudley said. “They see this as part of what it means to be an educated white person in certain places and spaces, whether they agree with it or not.”
That’s a nice way of saying some people feel bullied into playing along with these word games even if they think they are ultimately not very serious. The piece ends with a comment from a USC professor who says the battles over language are just a sign of a deeper political struggle that is still going on. “We are still undergoing a political struggle whose resolution is not yet determined, so the words themselves become the site of conflict,” professor Viet Thanh Nguyen. I think he’s on to something there. The new words do represent a kind of progressive insurgency and whether or not they are accepted and widely adopted by everyone is not clear.
As I usually do when reading the Times these days, I had a look at the comments. I was not disappointed with some of the most upvoted takes coming, I assume, from Democrats and liberals who are not on board with the woke language police. Here’s the top comment (1700 votes):
Or, “How Democrats Alienated Moderates And Lost Their Razor-Thin Majority.”
The next most upvoted comment compares “Lantinx” to colonialism:
I’m Latina and don’t like the term Latinx. Using it sounds elitist and colonist. Latino and Latina are Spanish words. Like it or not the Spanish language uses either feminine or masculine. Latinx is Americans once again saying we know better and your language is wrong. Signals more appropriation than inclusion.
More criticism of cancel culture:
It’s too much to remember, even for good-hearted people who want to say the right thing. There’s no forgiveness for making a mistake, in fact the identities seem intent on jumping on the offenders. The whole point is not to earn respect and equality, it’s to shame. Most people on either side will walk away.
Even people you might think would be on board are not on board:
As a Bisexual and a disabled person, I’ll say this- I don’t need any new or special labels. Just treat me with respect. Most people feel this way. It’s mostly a vocal minority and the woke for the sake of proving they’re not prejudiced left, who are performing a lot of this useless handwringing and insisting on new, ever evolving language.
I’m not cherry-picking here. All of the most up-voted comments are not fans of this stuff. This person says they are just giving up trying:
I’m tapping out. I’ll put forth genuine effort at work with all the DEI offerings. I’ll do my best to learn and develop empathy for all the marginalized groups. Outside of that, I’m not going to stress over it. It’s almost becoming laughable to me. At some point, they should just say we want to uplift and focus on everyone except cis gender white men. It would make the whole thing a lot easier to understand and would just be saying out loud what we already know.
There’s so much more, all of it worth reading. I’ll close this out with a brief comment that I think really sums up what everyone is saying: “Count this Democrat alienated.”