‘America’ and ‘American’ vanish in a college guide for how not to offend
America and American are offensive.
This is not my view. But an early version of a document compiled by the “Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University” actually singled out the words “America” and “American” as being potentially offensive. Here is the actual language used in the draft:
“The Americas encompass a lot more than the United 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.”
The conclusion in that draft was to replace “America” and “American” with “U.S. citizen” or “person from the U.S.”
You can’t make this stuff up. I mean really. What were they thinking?
Colorado State University Chancellor Tony Frank issued an official statement after the story broke defending the policy as being voluntary and saying that the final version did not include America or American. Within his statement, he said, “We consider free speech and the First Amendment the foundations of a great American public university.” Sounds nice, but how did America and American make the list in the first place?
Here is the introductory language in the original document:
“Inclusive Language Guide
“Living Document — Updates made frequently
“What this document is: This is a living resource compiled by the Inclusive Communications Task Force at Colorado State University. The document is intended to serve as a best practices guide. It is provided and will be updated with the intention of sharing meaningful and useful language suggestions. It is worth noting that language is always evolving so this document will be updated periodically.
“What this document is not: This is not an official policy or required practice. This document is intended as a resource to help our campus community reflect our Principles of Community particularly inclusion, respect, and social justice.
“The language in the guide may not apply to every individual and it is critical to take personal preference into account. 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.”
Instead of spending so much time worrying about ways not to offend anyone, it would be nice if our colleges and universities actually worried about teaching our students. Since 1978, college tuition has gone up 1,125 percent – four times the rate of inflation, while actual time in the classroom by tenured professors teaching undergraduates has gone down.
While we’re at it, It would be nice if the staff at our colleges and universities focused on ways to teach our students objective American history, basic economics and financial literacy. It seems that too many of the left-wing college professors and administrators have led large numbers of our young people to believe that America is a land of inequality (if they even say America anymore), capitalism is unjust and their generation is getting a raw deal.
Ironically, the opposite is true. No generation in human history has ever experienced a world with more prosperity, more freedom, more leisure time, more access to information, higher literacy rates, better life expectancy, lower child mortality, less poverty, less disease, less hunger and less violent crime that the current generation.
It is part of the reason I am so excited to be the president-elect of Young America’s Foundation. We have the truth on our side. We just need to get it out to our young Americans.
But it will not be easy. Even though the words “America” and “American” were not included in the latest version of the Inclusive Communications Task Force document, the fact that they even made an earlier draft — and the reasoning behind it — should wake us all up to the tremendous bias (intentional or not) on our campuses.
The motto of our nation is E pluribus unum (Out of many, One). People still come from all over the world to seek the freedom and prosperity found only in America.
Part of the greatness of our United States is that anyone can claim that freedom and prosperity. It doesn’t matter what class you were born into, what your parents did for a living, where you live or what you look like; everyone of us is created equal. As the U.S. Constitution says, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
What we do with those blessings is up to each of us. And that, is part of what makes me proud to be an American.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @ScottWalker.
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