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Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Teh Dumb:

Frequent use of the phrases “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” by our mainstream media is being questioned in order to remain faithful to the principles of our U.S. Constitution.

SPJ’s Diversity Committee met during the 2010 convention in Las Vegas and decided to engage in a yearlong educational campaign designed to inform and sensitize journalists as to the best language to use when writing and reporting on undocumented immigrants.

Some believe the phrase illegal alien originated with fiery, anti-immigrant groups along the U.S.-Mexico border, such as the Minutemen. Gradually, the phrase — along with illegal immigrant — seeped into common usage. It is now even used by some network TV newscasters.

Yet it remains offensive to many Latinos, and especially Mexicans, and to the fundamentals of American jurisprudence.

However, there are some national publications, including The Nation, that regularly use the preferred phrase: undocumented immigrant.

This is political correctness run amok.

I’m not opposed to immigration. I want to see our current immigration policy reformed, and some kind of amnesty program that includes citizenship.

But the fact is there are immigrant aliens who came here illegally. Terms like “wetback” or “mojado” are offensive. “Illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” are accurate descriptive terms.

They are not illegal because they don’t have documents. They don’t have documents because they are here illegally.

The term illegal alien is way older than the Minutemen. “Some believe” the moon is made of green cheese, but that doesn’t make it true.

Megyn Kelly at FOX News brings Teh Dumber:

“You could say that a burglar is an unauthorized visitor. You know, you could say that a rapist is a non-consensual sex partner which, obviously, would be considered offensive to the victims of those crimes,” Kelly said. “So how far could you take this?”

I’m okay with the burglar comparison but she should have known that the rape analogy would trigger a bunch of justified complaints.

TPM is Teh Dumbest (and dishonest):

Megyn Kelly: Calling Them Undocumented Immigrants Is Like Calling Rape “Sex”

That is not what Megyn Kelly said. What is so fucking hard about being honest?

56 Responses

  1. Something gone awry with the site?

    • This thread oughta make the Wikileaks thread seem like daycare reading.

      I for one have no problem with the provocative… and it will be perceived as provocative to defend the dual code words illegal alien and illegal immigrant…. those are just fightin’ words to some (progressives, liberals). Blood Pressures will rise for sure.

      … but what is wrong with a healthy discussion of this? (or almost any subject) – makes the site better imo. I hope people don’t leave in a huff, but defend their positions – I’m lookin’ forward to 100 comments to read real soon.

      Have at it.

      • nah, someday’s are just slow. People have vacation days, they have other things to do. Christmastime is traditionally a very slow blog season. It will pick up in the New Year. To be honest, I’m kinda surprised that we’re getting as much traffic as we have.
        I blame myiq.
        (I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was going to *blame* you)

    • If we look organized call the authorities, we’ve been kidnapped. 🙂

    • Home tab at top wasn’t working. At least on Firefox. To navigate to other posts I had to click on the recent comments section.

      • Oh, that’s different. I thought you were asking about us. That’s weird. Nothing has changed. I’ll look at that. I assume you’re on the very latest Firefox.

        • “Everything’s different; nothing has changed.” 😉

          • Yea, that context thingy. What he meant by something wrong is different than we were discussing. And nothing has changed with the website to make something no longer work correctly. 🙂

          • Oh no! I wasn’t mocking you Dandy T. Never!

            That quote just sort of popped up in my head inspired by your comment. Probably read it on some ‘graffitied’ wall, or Søren Kierkegaard said it … or something, lol.

            Don’t even really know what it means … still like it though. Has a nice inexplicable, filosophical ring to it.

          • LOL. And BTW, I’m always up for a Kierkegaard reference. I secretly always wanted to be a philosopher thinking deep thoughts and coming up with deep truths no one would ever understand.

          • Kierkegaard was a Dane like Hamlet. Either/Or. To be or not to be. Six of one, half dozen of another.

          • I’m Danish Three Wickets, so please hold the “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark”. Deal? 😉

          • I’m guessing you probably don’t like references to “Danegeld” either.

          • I’m not really a fan of that play anyway. I am a fan of Kierkegaard though. 🙂

          • “Danegeld”? Lol, had to look that one up.

            How did we manage before Google? 🙂

  2. News thread is up

  3. This issue is amazing. So much emotion, so little logic. I say we acquire Mexico, done and done. 🙂 OK, that’s flippant and Mexico wouldn’t like that. But just think of the fun new states and all that beach front property.

  4. Oy. What the hell are they teaching in journalism schools these days?

    Ineptness aside, there’s a good point to be made here. “Illegal alien/immigrant” tends to foster the idea that those so described are criminals: drug dealers, gangsters, hit men. There is in fact a trend among anti-immigrant conservatives to label them “illegal criminals” and to spread the false assertion that illegal entry is a felony.

    “Undocumented immigrant” is both neutral and accurate. It’s a myth that these immigrants don’t work or pay taxes, including Social Security withholding they won’t be able to claim at retirement. The issue is vexed enough as it is without conjuring up the specter of cartel killers and beheadings.

    • That feels very PC. I hear you about the craziness on the right about this. And the word illegal gives them something to foam about. But I don’t think it would matter with them. The term illegal is accurate. They are undocumented because they are here illegally not because someone lost something.

      • It’s one of those fake solutions

        “Let’s make the problem go away by changing the name!”

        • It’s not a solution at all. More like: “Let’s identify the actual problem in order to find a geuine, workable solution.”

          • Identifying the actual problem in order to find a genuine, workable solution has nothing to do with whether illegal immigrants are called “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented immigrants.” A rose by another other name . . .especially when it is, in fact, accurate to call them illegal immigrants because they are (1) immigrants and (2) not here legally. IMO, the inane debate over “illegal immigrants” v. “undocumented immigrants” is a red herring that distracts from the actual problem. Instead of spending time debating what we call illegal immigrants, spend time debating a “genuine workable solution.”

      • PC it may be. But it’s also a much more accurate description of, say, an RN now doing social work in an impoerished and crime-ridden neighborhood populated by American citizens (actual case) than the “illegal” label. Now, she’s not necessarily a typical undocumented worker; that’s more likely to be the guy doing your lawn or building your house. But even as border security becomes tighter and the xenophobia gets worse, there will be a good many more professionals and skilled workers slipping through without visas or green cards to escape the current drug-cartel violence.

        I think geography is a factor here, Dandy. The “problem” looks a lot different here on the border, I suspect, than it does from points north. The problem here isn’t the gardener; it’s the American citizen, from cartel leader “La Barbie” to teen-aged dealers and hitmen-in-training, that have been drawn into the drug war and are bringing it across the Rio Grande. Real criminals, committing real crimes.

        • I don’t disagree. And the term does not paint a reasonable picture in many cases. But I’m not sure slightly changing the term will help that. I think focusing on individual cases and the diversity of cases among other things will help. Basically, hey we’re all people here trying to get a better life. Kind of like everyone else. But it also helps that we don’t pretend there’s a massive problem in the border areas, with the drug wars, and the like.

    • All criminals are not violent. Being in this country is a crime & people who are here illegally are criminals. No, they aren’t violent criminals but they are in fact criminals. That is what we call people who break the law — criminals. So your premise that the words “illegal aliens” are not accurate is wrong.
      If you want to say that undocumented immigrant sounds nicer and you prefer that term, fine. But it isn’t any more accurate than illegal aliens.

      • Duh — “Being in this country [b] illegally[/b] is a crime”

      • Yes, it’s a misdemeanor. So are a number of other actions which don’t produce the equal or equivalent hysteria. It’s not that it “sounds nicer;” it’s that it puts the issue into perspective as against far more seriious problems facing the border which are being largely ignored by Washington and almost all of those not directly affected. For instance:

        1. The massive environmental damage done by the border walls/fences and airboats on the Rio Grande;

        2. The eonomic and social damage likewise done by same;

        3. Out-of-control Homeland Security in the form of the Border Patrol. A friend of mine whose farm is on the river has had her dogs shot (from 40 yards away) by BP; her (red-haired blue-eyed) sons have been repeatedly harrassed on their own road; she stepped out of her house one evening to find a plain-clothes idiot aiming a gun and shooting at a naked woman fleeing through her garden into the brush; and other delightful encounters too numerous to mention.

        4. Militarization of the Border, which will certainly result in an escaltion of such incidents as in (3);

        5. Metastasis of the drug war. When I can sit in my studio in the US and hear grenades going off in a residential neighborhood in Mexico, I lose all interest in my neighbor’s gardener’s work and immigration status.

        Of course, those problems require solutions a good deal harder to implement than an old fashioned campaign of fear and xenophobia.

        • Look I’m not trying to be p!ssy with you, but what other word do you use to describe people who break the law other than criminals?

          It doesn’t matter if it is a “minor” crime or not or how you want to parse it. People who break the law are criminals.

          The “hysteria” about illegal immigrants is not because of the word “illegal.” Calling them “undocumented” is NOT going to change that, no matter how much you want to think it will. The underlying issue is not about the word & trying to focus on the word instead of the problem isn’t helping anything — it is, at best, a band aid on a real issue in this country. At worst, it is something you can call them so that you can sleep better at night that has absolutely no effect on the plight/situation of these people. So yes — you want to call them “undocumented” rather than “illegal” because it helps YOU feel better — it doesn’t make an iota of difference to the lives of the actual people involved here.

          • One of the myths of illegal immigration is that they only take jobs Americans don’t want.

            That’s not true.

            It is not xenophobic or racist to oppose illegal immigration, especially when we have an official unemployment rate of almost 10%

          • What do we call people who break the law besides “criminals?” Well, “perpetrator” comes to mind; so do “offender” “drunk driver,” “rapist,” “drug dealer,” murderer” and a few other terms.

            And there’s part of the problem. When you combine “illegal” with “alien,” you get a pair of associations that not only summon up the image of violence, even though not all criminals are violent, but speak to a fundamental, possibly unbridgeable difference between the person speaking or spoken to and the “alien.” Try a little test. Ask the average person to tell you what s/he thinks an “alien” is. How many are going to tell you it’s a Brit? How many more are going to respond that it’s a carnivorous green critter from RIgel V? That response is exactly why the right insists on using the term “illegal alien. It’s not out of a dislike of PC; they have their own PC, after all. It’s because they want to elicit fear and distrust.

            The first thing you do when trying to solve a problem or a conflict, then, is de-escalate the language. “Undocumented worker” does that. It’s also quite accurate. Finding work is the reason most are here, and they don’t have immigration documents. My friend the nurse is an exception; if her spouse were male, she could have immigrated legallly. As the drug violence gets worse, we’re also likely to see more “illegal aliens” who might more accurately be called “refugees.”

            That kind of de-escalation has been an essential part of advocacy groups’ efforts to stop abuses, eg., Wackenhut/GEO’s former practice of imprisoning small children in cells separate from their mothers or other accompaying adult relatives. It’s also helped to get judgements against the commercial prison industry in wrongful death cases. I belong to a couple of these groups, by the way, and have been in a positon to observe what effects the de-escalation of rhetoric actually has. it gets harder to dismiss a killing when the victim is a “worker” rather than an “alien.”

            Apart from the actual effects on undocumented immigrants, insisting on the more hostile term is a power play by politicians and others far removed from the border. “Illegal aliens” plays well among the conservative base, and supports the efforts of the Arpaios and the Becks and the right-wng nutjobs in Congress to profit both politcally and economically off the fear they induce. That dynamic has resulted in wide ranging and severe damage to the border region–see above for a brief list–and has done harm to American citizens as well as immigrants. It’s something to which people who don’t know the area seem to be oblivious, so that they impose “solutions” which may make them feel more secure but which exacerbate the real problems. Hostile vocabulary helps to create and perpetuate that problem, too.

      • The phrase “illegal aliens” is generally accurate and that should be that.

        There are cases of people born in the US who do not have documentation to prove it. They are often children of illegal aliens: born at home for example, no birth certificate because of fear of their parents, etc., but that is rare. Still, such people are not illegal aliens, but are merely undocumented citizens.


    • Yes, because the correct word may have negative connotations in the minds of some people, let’s replace it with a mealy-mouthed obfuscation.

      “Undocumented” also has its connotations – i.e., only illegal because of some minor technicality. It is neither neutral nor accurate, since it implies that there is nothing but paperwork missing.

      This sort of thing makes people sneer at liberals. Immigration is either legal or illegal. The fact doesn’t change no matter what word you use.

      I am not anti-immigrant. I am anti-PC. It makes us look like idiots as we waste colossal amounts of time and energy trying not to call things what they are.

      • You do realize that “illegal alien” is just PC from the right-wing point of view, don’t you?

    • I personally have no issue with the current terminology. If we want to encourage immigration, we should do it under a legal umbrella. If we don’t, we should enforce existing laws or pass new ones. Ambiguity is not a solution.

  5. At 7 years old equal numbers of boys and girls want to be president. At 15 girls get smart and realize being president is a crappy goal!

    Good clip, but I think that women can be their own worst enemy. I say this as a 52 year old woman who has seen it time and again.

  6. This IS political correctness run amok. And the term “undocumented immigrant” just makes it sound like somebody forgot to count one.

  7. I have lived near the US/Mexico border for over 30 years. We should call the problem by its real name: human trafficking. The second largest Mexican export is workers. Every year, over $20 billion is wired into Mexico from the US. Google Mexican remittances. Illegal immigrants are the perfect employees for high-risk businesses, like meat packing plants, asbestos abatement, etc. They certainly aren’t going to be calling OSHA, filing a Worker’s Comp claim, or complaining if they’re not paid minimum wage or overtime. The US and Mexican governments, along with US businesses, are complicit. Agricultural industry is probably the biggest offender, but construction and cleaning industries are also big offenders. It’s basically indentured servitude. A lot of immigrants originally legally entered the US, but failed to follow all the rules to maintain legal status. Once they lost legal status, draconian US laws make it extremely difficult to requalify. The laws are designed to entrap them.

    The problem is simple to solve: treat employers of illegals as harshly as the employees. I bet if ICE started seizing the assets of factory farms and packing plants, the problem would disappear. We’d also have to start paying a LOT more for food, just for starters.

    By the way, a lot of the lawlessness along the border is due to the drug cartels expanding their “business” into transporting workers across the border. We need to stop demonizing illegal immigrants and focus on the reasons why they are willing to sell themselves into modern-day serfdom.

    OK, fire away! (lol)

    • treat employers of illegals as harshly as the employees. I bet if ICE started seizing the assets of factory farms and packing plants, the problem would disappear.

      Damn straight.

    • Honk, honk! I waffle back and forth between completely open boarders to completely closed boarders. The former because, well, fuck political boundaries. The latter because it would jam up the works for agribusiness and others you mentioned. Nothing like drying up the source of slave laborers to snap those asshole businesses into shape.

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