Illegal Immigrant is Not a Derogatory Term

By | January 3, 2011

Last Week, an eerily Orwellian opinion article by Leo Laurence was published by the Society Of Professional Journalists.  The post declared that “illegal immigrant” is to be considered an offensive term and that “undocumented worker” should be used instead.  Some illegal immigrants don’t work and/or may have falsified documents.  Neither undocumented nor working are accurate terms in all cases with this segment of the population.  However, they are definitely in the United States illegally.

Progressives have long worked to remove negative connotations through semantics, this makes historically unacceptable conditions .. acceptable.  Orwell tried to illustrate this activity in 1984. In Orwell’s book, the main character, Winston, works for the Ministry of Truth.  His job is to change terms and facts to those more acceptable to the ruling oligarchy.  The terms must align to a dictionary published by the ruling elite.  This is the art of semanticists to water down terms so that they can continue to progress their agenda without active opposition.   Richard M. Weaver explored this concept in detail in his work Ideas Have Consequences.

Here begins the assault upon definition: if words no longer correspond to objective realities, it seems no great wrong to take liberties with words.

This is the tactic, but the end to which they are working is much more disconcerting – it is confusion, of course.  By claiming that these are simply undocumented workers, they are disassociated with the idea that they have broken the law.  They are simply workers that just don’t have some unimportant piece of paper.  If Americans accept the breaking of some laws simply because the word used to describe the criminals has changed, which law is next?

Laurence attempts to defend his position by using the fifth amendment, another progressive suddenly referring to the Constitution only when it seems to favor their agenda.

One of the most basic of our constitutional rights is that everyone (including non-citizens) is innocent of anycrime until proven guilty in a court of law. That’s guaranteed under the Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, as I learned during four-year post-doctoral studies in appellate law at the California Court of Appeal in San Diego.

If that were the premise for his article, he would simply be adding the term “alleged” in front of “Illegal immigrant”.  That’s what is done with those accused of all crimes until found guilty.  So if “Alleged Illegal Immigrant” is more tolerable, then so be it –  is objective, it is factual.  Once the accused informs authorities of his alien status, he then could become an admitted illegal alien.  All semantics to cover the real issue.   The people labelled with the moniker have immigrated to the United States by knowingly and purposefully breaking immigration law.  Once that has been proven, we do and will call them illegal immigrants or illegal aliens.

Offensive terms are much less objective and may have nothing to do with facts.  If we are referring to Mexican immigrants, a long-used and truly offensive term was “wetback”.  I think having replaced wetback, with illegal immigrant is fair and truthful.  The only ones that take issue with the term are those that would rather play with the meaning of words than enforce our laws.

In all fairness, the Society of Professional Journalists made sure no one thought that SPJ was in agreement or disagreement with Laurence.  The article is headed with:

CLARIFICATION: The following article is an opinion piece and does not reflect the views of SPJ, its membership or its Diversity Committee. The committee itself has taken no official initiative on the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant.”

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4 thoughts on “Illegal Immigrant is Not a Derogatory Term

  1. doctorhugo Post author

    WORDS MEAN THINGS and that is what semantics is all about.

    The article opens up thusly:
    “Last Week, an eerily Orwellian opinion article by Leo Laurence was published by the Society Of Professional Journalists. The post declared that “illegal immigrant” is to be considered an offensive term and that “undocumented worker” should be used instead.” Avocating for a circumspect accuracy in word meaning I’ll keep calling them “illegal invaders” and admit to self-indulging a redundancy of interpetation in those very words. HA!

    It should be obvious to anyone who can make a fair and unbiased judgement and hasn’t been living in some batcave sequestered on the remotest edge of nowhere that the SPJ, in the person of the opinion of Mr. Leo Laurence, has been hopelessly afflicted with the malaise of “political correctness” that has cast it’s craven shadow across the land. I say “craven” simply because it is a cowardly individual who seeks to hide behind the subtle innuendo and vagueness of phrases that in and of their creation are intended to mute real meaning by introducing a vageness of interpetation. The Laurence position is irrational in conception, because there is no reasonable way to justify trying to get “undocumented” to equate on the same definition level as “illegal” as there is also no equivalence in meaning between ‘worker” and “immigrant”. One could be “legal” as to being an immigrant and still be “undocumented” if their papers were expired, lost or stolen. On the contrarian side one would not be technically “illegal” simply because they were unable to produce papers that had been legally issued to them and were considered “undocumented”.

    What is going on here is the liberal progressive agenda to change everything in this culture by corrupting it. It starts with an incorrect “legislating from the liberal bench” interpretation and permeates the entirety of our society, having taken root in the advent of the “progressive” educational system that began back in the ’50s. Back then Gus Hall and his CPUSA budds and similar radicals understood that they could use the FREEDOMS of OUR society to insidiously infiltrate thinking and teaching and destroy us from within. The startup of the ACLU by Roger Baldwin and the elitist left was no mere coincidence, nor was the start of the swing to the left in the written press. The liberals love to subliminally suggest that the term “progressive” means more enlightened as to intelligence and therefore opinion and beliefs and what better way to proliferate such a belkief than to use the communications media.

    As we started approaching the turn of the century and communications meant a PC in almost every American home and sophistictaed personal media everywhere and new technology upgrades/innovations coming out almost three and four times yearly the left was further enabled to their agenda of usurping the existing system. LIberals love anything that lifts their snobbishly confident attitude of having that near Divine knowledge of what’s best for everyone.

    Today…, this latter-day bunch of usurpers, Obama included, see that the groundwork has been laid for them so they are emboldened to keep on keepin’ on. It’s really no more complicated than that.

    Just thinking out loud…again!

  2. guest

    I think your response has proven that everything is a matter of semantics. The argument was breaking the law… and and an immigrant if crossed the border or smuggled through sea automatically essentially is an illegal, everything he stand for is illegal, a human being. but when its a citizen he is unlawful. Are we just playing with words here.

  3. guest

    “Progressives have long worked to remove negative connotations through semantics”: so the article accepts this i a negative connotation… Semantics work both ways so the same argument can be used against this argument.

    “By claiming that these are simply undocumented workers, they are disassociated with the idea that they have broken the law.” So its about breaking the law, since jaywalker for example broke the law should he be an illegal aswell?

    “if that were the premise for his article, he would simply be adding the term “alleged” in front of “Illegal immigrant”. That’s what is done with those accused of all crimes until found guilty.” In court there are two types of people, the defendant and prosecutor.

    1. R. Mitchell Post author

      “so the article accepts this i a negative connotation” – um .. yes, being a criminal is generally thought of as negative. Being called a criminal would therefor be a negative connotation – and if guilty of a crime, a true negative connotation.

      “So its about breaking the law, since jaywalker for example broke the law should he be an illegal aswell?”

      Yes, the jaywalker is breaking the law, but that doesn’t make him an illegal immigrant. It makes him an unlawful citizen

      “In court there are two types of people, the defendant and prosecutor.” – I have no idea what you were trying to get at with that, but not being a lawyer, I actually think it’s “Plaintiff” and “Defendant”.

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