It seems as if everyone in the mainstream media world is taking a fresh look at their style guides this year… for some reason. (*cough*) First we saw the Associated Press preparing to twist their pronouns in strange and unusual directions to avoid offending transgender activists. Now, thanks to some sharp work at The Daily Caller, we learn that the New York Times has grown unhappy with the old list of racially insensitive terms and may be adding a few more.
A group of New York Times journalists released a list of racial terms they find “bothersome” Sunday.
NYT’s Race/Related team included terms like”ethnic,” person of color” and “illegal immigrant” among those they found slightly offensive.
John Eligon, the paper’s national correspondent, found “ethnic”a troublesome term because it “normalizes” whiteness.
The letter reads more like something out of a debate class syllabus at a liberal arts college than a guide to modern English usage. Let’s start with the first item on the list. Are we to eliminate all uses of the word ethnic? How about food? That seems to be fairly well embedded in the foodie culture. Or perhaps we’re only to do away with it when the adjective is applied to people. The authors ask the question, “What makes a black person ethnic but a white person not?” I wasn’t aware that we were even using the word that way. Oh, my. She looks pretty ethnic, don’t you think? How that “normalizes whiteness” is a bit of a mystery. We bring up ethnicity when it applies to the Irish, Italians and a whole range of other ostensibly white folks. Before you attempt to solve a problem, perhaps you should define it for us a bit more completely first.
And when did “people of color” start getting a bad rap? One of the Times editors seems to feel that it’s “too close to colored people” but I seem to recall being told that this was actually the respectful term. (And as the leading black writer at Hot Air, at least according to my genetic testing kit results, I should know.) It took all of thirty seconds of Googling to find a raft of black and Hispanic authors at major news outlets using that term all the live long day. Might want to slow your roll on that one as well.
We’re also no longer supposed to use fractions when describing ethnicity either. They describe ‘half white,’ ‘half black,’ ‘a quarter Native American’ as being “convenient” in terms of math, but inaccurate. I’ll grant you that the odds of anyone’s DNA pool coming out at precisely 50% anything are pretty close to zero, but is that really offensive?
Be that as it may, we now live in the world of thought crimes. And that apparently includes word crimes as well. Of course, they’re not technically crimes… yet. But give us a few years of Elizabeth Warren in the White House (or the “Ethnic House” I suppose) and that condition may be changing. Just don’t bring up the Native American thing to her because that’s really, really offensive.