Michael Cutler | Front Page Magazine The Library of Congress falls victim to semantic tyranny. George Orwell’s political novel “1984” painted a disturbing but all too prophetic image of how a totalitarian government would come to rule its citizens with an iron fist. Language — that is to say, the deceptive use of language — was a critical element of the government and the dystopia it created that Orwell described. In Orwell’s thriller, electronic surveillance conducted by the omnipresent “Big Brother” was a major factor, as was the development and implementation of a language, Newspeak, that was devised to control thought over time by eliminating words from the vernacular. When words were eliminated, thoughts and concepts those words represented would be eliminated. Furthermore, terms to describe government agencies were often the opposite of what their respective missions were. The editing process of published material, especially by rewriting history books and employing propaganda, was the domain of the Ministry of Truth. The omnipresent Party understood that “who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” The contradictorily named, “Ministry of Love” tortured citizens to coerce their unflagging and uncompromising compliance with the dictates of the government. The world in which the residents of 1984 resided was a world of deception and lies where “up” was “down” and “right” was “wrong.” In the words of the official slogan of the Ministry of Truth:
“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.”In 1984 the use of conflicting terms were designed to be disorienting and intimidating to better gain total control over the masses. Let’s contrast the machinations of the government in 1984 with the precepts of the Founding Fathers of our nation. The Founding Fathers understood that democracy could only exist when citizens were granted a series of freedoms — including the freedom to express their thoughts and concerns with virtual impunity and to meet with others to hold discussions about grievances about their government. Journalists and their mission to report on the facts was sacrosanct to the Founding Fathers. As evidenced by the fact that journalists are members of the only profession that is specifically protected by the U.S. Constitution, the Founding Fathers understood that the citizens of this nation must have unfettered access to the truth. Consider the First Amendment of the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.Now let’s consider how far we have fallen in just a few short years. The term “Alien” has been all but expunged from any discussions about immigration. This lunacy began under the administration of Jimmy Carter who mandated that INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) employees stop using the term alien to describe illegal aliens. The term alien is hardly a pejorative. The term “alien” is a legal term that is defined in our immigration laws under Title 8 U.S. Code § 1101 – Definitions. Under section (a)(3):
The term “alien” means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.There is absolutely no insult in that term. The reason that there has been a concerted effort to expunge the word alien from the vernacular is to obfuscate the clarity that the term brings to the debate about immigration. This is not about being “politically correct,” but about employing the Newspeak tactic of confounding understanding and making honest discussions impossible. Let me provide a bit of clarity: the difference between and an “immigrant” and an “illegal alien” is comparable to the difference between a houseguest and a burglar. It has taken decades, but alarmingly, the march towards the implementation of Newspeak continues with increasing velocity. On March 29, 2016 Fox News Latino reported, “Student petition at Dartmouth sparks Library of Congress to drop term ‘illegal alien.’” Here is how this troubling report begins:
When a student-led organization at Dartmouth College petitioned the Library of Congress in 2014 to drop the term “illegal aliens” and instead use “undocumented,” the response was no. The reasoning, members of the group recall, was that “illegal alien” is an official U.S. government term for people who are in the country without proper documents. But the Dartmouth Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality and DREAMers, or CoFIRED, motivated others – including librarian associations – across the nation to press the Library of Congress to stop using the term, which they argued dehumanizes undocumented immigrants. The Library of Congress listened, and has decided to no longer use the heading “illegal aliens” in bibliographic records.