If constantly flip-flopping on senseless COVID-19 restrictions hadn’t undermined the credibility of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enough, the agency appointed itself language police last week with a list of acceptable (and not acceptable) terminology. From instructing English-speakers to deny biological realities with terms like “assigned male/female at birth” to touting unnecessary word salads like “people with self-reported income in the lowest income bracket” (instead of “poor people”), the CDC guide is full of catchphrases that sound messy and cloud meaning.
In the face of confusing and inaccurate language diktats from federal bureaucrats, The Federalist is here to help. Back in April, we brought you “10 Politically Correct But Factually False Words And Phrases To Stop Using Immediately,” including words and phrases like “mainstream media,” “abortion doctors,” and “cisgender.”
— The Federalist (@FDRLST) April 19, 2021
Here are a few more phrases and words that, no matter how much leftist hacks like the CDC language police will try to pressure you to use them, you should think twice before using.
“Progressive” is an inherently positive adjective, implying that anything it describes is “progressing” toward something better. In America, the political Progressive movement that gained steam at the beginning of the 20th century viewed America’s systems of limited government as outdated, instead wanting to use federal power to usher in radical social change.
Today’s self-styled “progressives” follow suit, seeking to use governmental and cultural levers to force social upheaval on Americans. To concede their “progressive” description is to buy into the assumption that anyone who doesn’t support their agendas is backward and regressive. Instead of “progressive,” say “leftist” or just describe the particular individual or group’s agenda more specifically.
2. ‘Pregnant Persons’
This shouldn’t even need to be said. Women can get pregnant. Men can’t.
The same goes for other nonsense terms like “people who menstruate” or “breastfeeding persons.” To reduce women to their physical and reproductive abilities is dehumanizing and inappropriate, and these terms deny basic biological realities.
Everyone in his right mind opposes racism, but today many agendas that fly under the banner of “antiracism” are actually just racism in disguise. By slapping the label of “antiracism” on these actions and ideas, activists can automatically discredit anyone who challenges them.
As linguist and writer John McWhorter explains, “The new religion might be called ‘antiracism,’ but it features a racial essentialism that’s barely distinguishable from racist arguments of the past.”
In the name of so-called “antiracism,” grifters like Ibram X. Kendi advocate actual racist policies like racial discrimination, and school districts like one in Atlanta segregate students by race. This isn’t antiracism, this is racism redux.
4. ‘Assault Weapon’
When the left can’t use facts (which is often), they resort to feelings. This is why they deploy the phrase “assault weapon” to elicit an emotional response. Adding “assault” to something makes it sound scarier, and the gun control lobby has been largely successful in convincing Americans there is a cut-and-dried category of guns that assault you and guns that supposedly don’t.
Practically anything — from brass knuckles to a two-by-four to a rubber slingshot — can be used as a weapon to assault a victim. Just because a rifle looks vaguely like the kind of firearm used by military forces does not magically confer “assault” status.
Sometimes, the phrase “assault weapon” or “assault rifle” is used to describe a rifle with selective-fire capabilities (i.e., a rifle that can switch between semi-automatic or fully automatic modes). The terms are often applied to civilian AR-15s, however, which do not necessarily have selective-fire options. (It’s also worth noting that the “AR” in “AR-15” doesn’t stand for assault rifle, it refers to the company Armalite Rifle.)
Like “progressive,” the term “liberal” is a self-congratulatory term that automatically makes whatever it describes sound like a good thing. “Liberal” originates from the Latin term “liber,” meaning “free,” and who wouldn’t want to be on the side of freedom?
It’s become commonly used as the catchall opposite of “conservative,” but “liberalism” has traditionally described the Western system of thought and government that came out of the 18th century Enlightenment and emphasizes self-government and individual rights. Today’s leftists who advocate for federal micromanagement of your life are not the heirs of this tradition, and you shouldn’t let them tell you otherwise.
There’s nothing wrong with the word “investment” itself, but it has quickly become useful jargon to make bloated federal spending programs sound financially sound. Investments generate a return based on the creation of value, not redistributed earnings.
But you’ll still catch people like New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez calling the nearly $2 trillion price tag of the “American Rescue Plan” a “bold investment” in “our families, our children and our nation’s health,” or President Biden calling his (additional) proposed $2 trillion spending spree a “generational investment.” Someone remind these folks that investments are supposed to generate positive returns.
Like “investment,” the word “stimulus” can still be accurate in its place, but it’s become a buzzword to endear to us the reckless redistribution of taxpayer money. Calling giant federal spending bills “stimulus packages” or “COVID relief” distracts from the reality that such pork-barrel spending bills have hurt small businesses and have been shown to not actually help the economy, as their effects continue lurching the country into inflation.
8. ‘Sex Worker’
Selling sex for money is prostitution, and the exploitation of women, children, or anyone else by prostitution is not to be accepted or glamorized, no matter how much The New York Times and others want it to be. Moreover, sexual exploitation on a screen is still sexual exploitation, and still damages the lives of every party involved.
Bonus: ‘Not Stranded’
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki apparently thinks “not stranded” is the new way to describe the situation of Americans who are, by the administration’s own account, stranded in Afghanistan thanks to the ineptitude of Biden and his advisers.
Don’t be like the Biden administration, using phrases that mean the opposite of the truth.