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Jewish World Review June 25, 1999 /12 Tamuz, 5759

Walter Williams

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Corruption of language --
MANY OF MY YOUTHFUL Saturday afternoons were spent at the theater watching Tarzan or Jungle Jim fighting in the swamps and jungles against the forces of evil. There were swamps and jungles because we saw them.

When have you last heard the words swamps and jungles? Have swamps and jungles disappeared from the face of the earth? No, for political purposes they've been renamed. They're now wetlands and rain forests. The public can't be whipped into a frenzy about saving swamps and jungles, but wetlands and rain forests are a different matter. Everybody's onboard with the new terminology except the military. They're still calling combat dress clothing jungle camouflage. They should rename their combat dress rain forest camouflage.

Years ago, there were bums, vagabonds, tramps and hobos. They, too, have disappeared. Now we have homeless people. That causes temporary confusion. When a person asks me, "Will you help the homeless?" I don't know whether I'm being asked to assist someone whose home was lost in a tornado, flood or hurricane, or a shiftless bum. Use of homeless is the leftist agenda to establish moral equivalency between tragedy that's an act of God and self- inflicted tragedy.

There's another term confusing to me -- care-giver. If someone said, "I saw the girl walking down the street with her care-giver," with whom would you think she was walking? It might be her mother, father, babysitter, seeing-eye dog, doctor, lawyer, policeman, hairdresser -- the possibilities are endless. So why cause confusion? Just say, "She was walking with her father."

Just as confusing is the classification native American. Whenever I have to fill out a form that has a block where one can classify himself as a "Native American," I always check that block and urge you to do so too if you were born in the United States. The African-American classification poses problems, too. What if a person of Afrikaner or Egyptian ancestry were born in the United States. Would he be an African-American?

On many of America's college campuses, there are courses such as "Violence and Gender" and "Gender Inequality."

Sustained, intransigent, ignorance might be excusable elsewhere but not on a college campus. Gender is a grammatical term: "the classification by which nouns and pronouns (and often accompanying modifiers) are grouped or inflected." For example, in French, "le" is the article for the masculine gender and "la" the article for the feminine gender. Gender and sex are two different concepts. They are not interchangeable. Plus, it would sound funny to say, "He had gender with his wife."

Aside from ignorance, college professors can be silly, too. What used to be the position of department chairman is now the sexually neutral department chair. I hold such a position at George Mason University and refuse to identify myself as Chair. On occasions, when referred to as a chair, I've offered to prove to the speaker that I am a chairman.

Sticking with the college scene a little more, presidents pretend to assume the moral high ground by pointing to the importance they place on campus diversity. Whatever they mean by diversity, they darn sure don't mean political diversity. Most colleges are leftist bastions. Very often 90 percent or more of their faculty and administrators are Democrats. What presidents really mean by diversity is that they are for race and sex quotas, but not political quotas.

John Milton predicted, "When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation."

Just in case you're puzzled by our national moral decline.


06/18/99: Asian excellence, American mediocrity
06/11/99: Reining in the EPA
06/07/99: Minimum wage, maximum folly
05/27/99: An armed citizenry and liberty
05/19/99: Blaming the past
05/14/99: General principles
05/06/99: Confronting unpleasantries
04/29/99: Permissiveness costs
04/23/99: South Africa: after apartheid
04/19/99: A time for truth
04/12/99: Population and poverty
03/31/99: Moral hazards
03/24/99: Right to be left alone?
03/17/99: Why Congress can't be trusted
03/10/99: Racial profiling
03/03/99: Equality before the law
02/24/99: Population control nonsense
02/17/99: Congressional contempt
02/11/99:Blooming fur tyrants
02/05/99:More money, better education?
01/27/99:Absurdity, brazenness and hypocrisy reigns
01/20/99:Economics 101
01/13/99:A wrongful celebration
01/06/99: Economics of predation
12/30/98: Things I wonder about
12/23/98: Unseen crime costs
12/21/98: How to become rich
12/09/98: Advancing national decadence
12/02/98: The Civil War wasn't about slavery
11/24/98:What's happened to us?
11/20/98:Tragedy in black neighborhoods
11/11/98:Family debasement
I11/04/98: Is it them or us?
10/28/98: Where are the poor?
10/21/98: The budget surplus hoax
10/15/98: Where union power lies
10/08/98: Race and sex in the military
9/29/98: Can Clinton run the economy?
9/25/98: Liberals and the constitution
9/17/98: Clinton and future presidents
9/11/98: Donate or sell organs
9/03/98: Common Sense vs. Experts
8/26/98: Mother Nature's unfairness
8/24/98: The pretense of superiority
8/13/98: Yours or mine?
8/05/98: I do my job well, so that means I can....
7/29/98: Education production

©1999, Creators Syndicate