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.”