It’s hard to keep up with the phrases we leftists are supposed to avoid. The Secret Liberal Euphemisms List keeps growing, and terms we’ve been using for years suddenly get added to it. Recently, the word went out (Memo #3322745A-32) from Secret Leftwing Headquarters that we shouldn’t refer to illegal aliens because NO ONE IS ILLEGAL!
Yeah, but verbal shorthand is common and awfully convenient. Moreover, the substitutes that are proposed for the terms on that list are usually awkward, ungainly, unaesthetic, and ill chosen. For example, some prefer undocumented immigrant to illegal alien. But let’s say that someone who is in this country without the proper legal permission is caught and is handed a card stamped ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT and ordered to have it on him at all times while he’s being processed for deportation. Then he’d be a documented immigrant! But also still an illegal alien. (I don’t think such cards exist, but it’s depressingly easy to imagine the dweebs at Homeland Security inventing them.)
(Admittedly, one problem with my otherwise stunningly logical and admirable position is the presence of xenophobic jerks among us - many of them on my side of the political spectrum. Hack, ptuie. There: I lob a gob of sputum at them. I suppose that such people are unaware that there was no such thing as an undocumented immigrant or illegal alien before about 80 years ago. Odds are their own ancestors entered this country without any kind of papers. Before the 1920s eruption of xenophobia and racism – a reaction, I assume, to a wave of post-WWI immigration – anyone who wanted to come to America simply came. Zillions did, and few were turned away. But who expects logic and historical awareness from xenophobic jerks? More to the point, I refuse to stop using a logical and accurate and convenient phrase because it’s misused by a bunch of xenophobic jerks. I’m not going to let them control me or define the terms of the discourse.)
Some of the euphemisms on the Secret Liberal Euphemisms List are unintentionally insulting or degrading. Wheelchair user, for example. That implies that people in wheelchairs are there by choice and because they like having to use wheelchairs to get around. Sure they do.
Fortunately, not all of the euphemisms on that list catch on. Years ago, there was a movement not only to ditch the word disabled (that succeeded, apparently) but also to label the rest of us temporarily abled (didn't succeed). Well, I’m doing my best to keep myself permanently abled, and I also intend to permanently use the term illegal alien.
If I were feeling pugnacious, I might even go so far as to add that I speak as a legal immigrant and also as a white African-American.