House GOP wants to stop the Library of Congress from ditching "illegal alien"

Last month we discussed the move by the Library of Congress to do away with the term “illegal alien” in favor of new descriptions including “noncitizens” and “unauthorized immigration.” To say that conservatives weren’t thrilled with the proposed changes is an understatement. But what’s to be done? Last I checked we don’t have a special oversight committee which specializes in librarians. But there is one avenue where Congress always has at least some say in things and that’s the power of the purse. And as it turns out, some members of the lower chamber stirred themselves to action and have threatened to cut off the institution’s funding if this nonsense isn’t put to a halt. (Yahoo News)

The library’s move, announced in a three-page statement last month, was met with outrage from conservatives, who asked that a provision to block it be added to legislation that funds the legislative branch and its agencies, which include the Library of Congress.

“This needless policy change by the Library of Congress embodies so much of what taxpayers find enraging about Washington,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., in a statement introducing similar legislation. “By trading common-sense language for sanitized political-speak, they are caving to the whims of left-wing special interests and attempting to mask the grave threat that illegal immigration poses to our economy, our national security, and our sovereignty.”

The library makes cataloging changes 3,000-4,000 times a year, says Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the top Democrat on the legislative funding panel. She says the move inserts a “poison pill” into a normally nonpartisan annual funding bill.

Well, I’m certainly glad that the DNC Chair took time out of her busy day to weigh in. Until you’ve gotten a ruling from Debby Downer it’s hard to know which way the wind is blowing on the left side of the chamber. Of course, her explanation of saying that the library updates the catalog thousands of times per year is rather lacking in logic. That’s akin to telling us that the cafeteria serves hundreds of lunches every day and if one or two of them happen to contain rat poison it’s no reason to get bent out of shape.

As to Congresswoman Black’s comments, I’m not going to disagree with her sentiment, but I don’t think it’s the most effective argument here. Yes, this is “sanitized political-speak” in its worst form and further dilutes an important policy discussion, but the country – and the government in particular – is chock full of PC nonsense these days. The real argument to be had, as I pointed out when the subject was first raised, is that the Library of Congress is still a library. I don’t think it’s beyond reason that the taxpayers would expect them to be conversant with the language at a high level of mastery and do their jobs properly.

The new terminology being shoveled into the catalog isn’t just PC doublespeak… it’s poor English which is imprecise at best and flat out incorrect at worst. Saying that an illegal alien is a “noncitizen” (which really should be hyphenated while we’re on the subject) may be true, but it’s also true that an apple is a fruit. Shall we replace all instances of the word “apple” with “fruit” in the LoC? Not every non-citizen is an illegal alien. It’s an insult to everyone with a green card who is following the rules, and even those here on tourist visas. Further, “unauthorized immigration” carries with it an implication that someone failed to get one of their forms stamped. The tone of the language falls far short of the criminal act under discussion. As I’ve described it previously, going into the local credit union and robbing the joint at gunpoint does not count as an “unauthorized account withdrawal.”

If the House GOP wants to argue against these changes and threaten to withhold funding, perhaps the first place to start would be to demand that the Library of Congress actually do their jobs properly. I understand that’s a rather foreign concept in government these days but it would set a remarkable precedent.