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I try to have a sense of humor, so when someone sent me a video about Social Justice Warriors, poking fun at my culture of political correctness and moral outrage, I played along and chuckled. I can be over-the-top. It’s funny.
My kid was sick the other day, and after bailing on an evening commitment we decided to lay low and watch a movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” His little brother proclaimed, during the “Lollipop Guild,” that the Munchkins were really kids and not grownups.
“No, they are…,” big brother attempted by way of correction, “What’s it called again?”
“Little people,” I said. He was skeptical. Didn’t seem like it could be right.
“No, when someone’s body is different so it doesn’t grow as tall,” he explained.
“Yes. People who have that prefer to be called ‘Little People,’” I told him.
He smiled. “That sounds weird,” he said.
My memory flashed back to that hilarious little video.
Being politically correct is annoying — a way to wedge your way into conversations to nit-pick at people’s language, a holier-than-thou mother wagging her finger, ready to jump all over you.
And yet, if Roseanne taught us nothing this week, it’s that you can’t just say *whatever*.
I wonder about the church’s role in shaping and policing language. We are, none of us, perfect. Church isn’t a place for perfect people, that’s for sure. So I can understand a criticism against a veneer of carefully-crafted language that simply intends to avoid offense and conflict, and that talks around issues rather than using plain speech.
But I get frustrated when church members, on Facebook or in their pew, insist that they’ll use the term “illegal” to refer to an immigrant who is here without authorization. “It’s dehumanizing,” I tell them, and they roll their eyes.
Two weeks ago, President Trump declared certain immigrant gang-members to be “animals,” and has since tested this all over his campaign trail, to great applause. A helpful FAQ was even posted on the whitehouse.gov website, entitled “What you need to know about the violent animals of MS-13.”
The SJW in me is, I admit, tempted to get stuck there, just on the words. Problem is, behind the words of powerful people is action, policy. Suffering.
- More than 600 children have been separated from their parents at the border since Jeff Sessions so blithely declared, “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” in his announcement of his new “zero tolerance” policy.
- The U.S. will resettle its smallest number of refugees this year, not even half the shockingly low number that the President set as his goal for 2018, since our resettlement program began.
- Despite agreement on both sides of the aisle regarding the critical need for a solution for Dreamers, there is still no law that allows them permanent protection. Instead, we may soon see a bill pass the House that attempts to slash legal immigration through eliminating visas that allow U.S. citizens to reunite with immediate family members.
- This month, a family in my community had their door crow-barred open by ICE, who pointed their guns at children and parents alike upon entering.
Language won’t fix this, of course — I’d rather have a President who actually says the foul things he is thinking, rather than covering them up with a veneer of acceptable language. Political correctness is, I concede, not the goal.
I guess, for this SJW anyway, the real goal is this: I’d love for those in power to ascribe to, be elected because they hold, and be held accountable to maintain a standard of human dignity — through their words, but mostly through their actions and policies — that allows us to put some trust in the Apostle Paul’s words, “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.”