Education

Groupthink Campus Culture

"Inclusive" language standards on campus are all about crushing free thought.

Arnold Ahlert · Jul. 25, 2019

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” ―George Orwell, 1984

At Colorado State University, the clock has “struck thirteen.” A group of officials called the Inclusive Communications Task Force has created an Inclusive Language Guide that aims to “help our campus community reflect our Principles of Community particularly inclusion, respect, and social justice.”

Promoting institutional infantilization is more like it.

Laughingly, the Task Force insists the Guide “is not about political-correctness or policing grammar, but rather helping communicators practice inclusive language and helping everyone on our campus feel welcomed, respected, and valued.” No, it’s not. It’s about advising students to walk on politically correct eggshells — to the point of lunacy — to avoid offending anyone. Hence, their “best practice” suggestions:

  • Use people-first language (i.e. person with a disability vs. disabled or person of color vs. colored) unless the person indicates another preference.

  • Never assume a person’s gender identity based on their name or their appearance — if you don’t know, use gender-inclusive pronouns or ask for their pronouns.

  • Use gender-inclusive language when speaking in generalities or about groups of people that you do not know the individual pronouns of (i.e. everyone vs. ladies and gentlemen and they/them/theirs vs. he/him/his and she/her/hers).

What else is problematic? “American/America.” Why? “The Americas encompass a lot more than the United States,” the guide states. “There is South America, Central America, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean just to name a few of 42 countries in total. That’s why the word ‘americano’ in Spanish can refer to anything on the American continent. Yet, when we talk about ‘Americans’ in the United States, we’re usually just referring to people from the United States. This erases other cultures and depicts the United States as the dominant American country.”

But the United States is dominant. It has the largest population, the largest economy, and a Constitution and Declaration of Independence that are the envy of the world. And saying so doesn’t “erase other cultures.” Nonetheless, in order to remain sufficiently “woke” one must use “U.S. citizen; person from the U.S.”

What if a person in the U.S is here illegally? “The term ‘illegal immigrant’ was first used in 1939 as a slur towards Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and entered Palestine without authorization,” the guide insists. “Saying that a person is ‘illegal’ dehumanizes them and implies that they are a criminal, not taking into account that they may be a refugee seeking asylum. The term also suggests that the individual, and not the potential actions they have taken, are unlawful.”

Unsurprisingly, in a sop to the LGBT Mafia, “Male/Female” and “Mr. /Mrs. / Ms.” are also terms to avoid because “we very rarely need to identify or know a person’s biological sex and more often are referring to gender,” and because “titles can be problematic when you are not aware of a person’s gender identity and try to guess or when the use of the title is against a person’s personal preference,” respectively.

Thus, “He or She, Ladies and Gentlemen” are also verboten because they “imply that gender is binary (i.e. either man or woman) and does not acknowledge that people may identify anywhere along the gender spectrum and/or their biological sex may not match their gender identity.”

It goes further downhill — and more nonsensical — from there. “Starving / I’m Starving / I’m Broke” is no good because “these terms appropriate real situations of hardship and can cause harm to individuals who are experiencing extreme poverty or hunger crisis.” “Peanut Gallery” is off limits because, despite the fact it is used to reference hecklers and critics, it actually refers to “a section in theaters, usually the cheapest and worst, where many Black people sat during the era of Vaudeville.” “Freshman?” If you guessed the “man” part is problematic because it “excludes women and non-binary gender identities,” go to the head of the class.

“The guide certainly does encompass a great deal of everyday, common expressions, and it is possible that the speech of some students will be chilled if they are confused into thinking that the document represents official policy of the university,” stated Azhar Majeed, spokesman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “However, given the introductory language … I think it would be unlikely that any student carefully reading the guide would be mistaken and led to believe they could face disciplinary action for their speech,” Majeed added.

How about social ostracization? In reality, this guide is about one thing above all else: the elicitation of guilt, directly leading to either self-censorship — or silence.

That is the antithesis of what college is supposed to be about.

Colorado State is no outlier. At the Catholic University of Dayton, a gender-inclusive language “resource” frowns on the usage of “husband/wife,” which should be replaced with “spouse, partner, significant other.” The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill advises students to avoid using any word that includes “man,” such as “mailman,” “policeman,” or “man-made.”

At George Mason University, graduate teaching assistants (TAs) attending a mandatory training session in 2017 were warned to avoid using the terms “freshman,” “last name,” and “it is easy to imagine.” Their syllabi were to be written in “non-sexist, gender-inclusive terms,” while striving to embrace “inclusive language that does not assume Eurocentric name forms.”

At the University of New Hampshire, the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate was created in response to 2017 Cinco de Mayo celebrations that “generated considerable outrage among students, faculty and staff throughout UNH and the region.” It produced a 58-page document to address a list of 15 student demands that included adding a mandatory “4-credit social justice course requirement” for students, and bimonthly “holistic diversity training” for all faculty and staff.

Such utter nonsense is apparently contagious. On Monday, three Democrat presidential candidates — Julian Castro, Bill de Blasio, and Elizabeth Warren — released Twitter bios that included their preferred gender pronouns. For Castro it’s “He/Him/Él,” for de Blasio “He/him,” and Warren “She/her.”

The rest of the field has yet to weigh in, but one suspects all of them will display an equal reverence for the intersectionalist bankruptcy that afflicts their party.

It is bankruptcy that elicits an obvious question: In the world of self-inflicted Newspeak, how does one nominate any white, male, heterosexual, Christian — currently defined in leftist terms as a “privileged, toxic, cisgender, bitter clinger” — to be the party standard-bearer without committing a thoughtcrime of the first order?

Joe Biden should certainly be curious. So should every other candidate who doesn’t tick enough “intersectional” boxes to be sufficiently “woke.” Moreover, how much narrower — as in radical to the point of nihilism — will the party’s thinking become?

“Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think.” —George Orwell

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