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IN FOCUS – Manipulating Language


During the last administration, President Trump and his staff often referred to those foreigners who were illegally in the country as “illegal aliens.”  Makes sense.  That’s not a pejorative — just a fact.  But that term “illegal aliens” highlights the fact that these people are not Americans — they are citizens of another country.  And it makes us realize they are in our country — well, illegally.  And, if foreigners are in the country illegally, that leads us to the conclusion that our government is doing a bad job in enforcing our laws to prevent these citizens of other countries from entering, and if they are found here, they should be expelled.  All those views are politically incorrect.  We cannot have such thinking.

Within weeks of when President Biden came into office, memos were issued to department heads at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) ordering they change their tune.  They were ordered to stop using terms like “illegal alien” and to begin using softer, gentler language designed to reflect a more “humane” view of immigration.  Here were some of the word changes that were designed to confer “dignity to those in our custody”:

Trump Words



Biden Words
noncitizen; migrant

If these same “illegal aliens” are now described as “undocumented persons,” it makes us think that maybe these people just forgot their papers, and maybe we should just provide these people some documents.  And, if they are just “noncitizens,” maybe we should just make them citizens.

This change in language occurs throughout government.  When the pharmaceutical industry was trying to convince us to take their COVID-19 mRNA shots, they knew they had to market them in a way that seemed familiar.  They decided not to refer to these shots as “experimental gene therapy,” but rather as “vaccines.”  Even the Merriam-Webster Dictionarywas altered by powerful forces to change the online definition of the word “vaccine.”  Before the mRNA shots came along, vaccines were made from dead or weakened pathogens to trigger an immunological response in the body to make us better able to fight off the pathogen in the future.  That is nothing like what the mRNA shots do.  But would you rather take a “vaccine” or participate in “experimental gene therapy”?  The simple solution was to change the definition of the word “vaccine” to change the way you think.

This type of language control was predicted in George Orwell’s 1984, who described how a totalitarian stake would alter the language to fit their political agenda.  One of the bureaucrats in the nation of Oceania described the importance of controlling the language:

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?  In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.  Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined….  [Emphasis added.]

Orwell provides a great description of the world they are fashioning:  “when the concept of freedom has been abolished … [t]he whole climate of thought will be different.  In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now.  Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think.  Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”  (Emphasis added.)

The connection between thought and words is quite obvious.  When we think about complex matters, we think using words.  Manipulation of language is one of the most effective ways to manipulate our thinking.  The Left knows this and is committed to the use of language to control.

We are routinely told to avoid language that could be viewed as “offensive” or “threatening” to others.  To protect the sensitivities of others, we must speak in a politically correct way.  As one writer puts it:

Political correctness is language control.  And language control is thought control.  Period.  The rise of modern political correctness (PC) is a great example of the cunning way in which social engineers … operate.  Political correctness is soft censorship.  It is intolerance disguised as tolerance.

The “Culture-Control Left,” as one British author calls them, are masters of controlling debate by controlling the definitions of words.  Consider just a few.  “Gay.”  “Pro-choice.”  “Homophobic.”  “Assault weapon.”  “Antiracist.”  “Gender-affirming care.”  Who wants to be “anti-choice”?  Who wants to be “homophobic”?  Who wants to be a racist?  Who wants “assault weapons proliferating in our streets causing death and destruction?”  Who doesn’t want to “affirm” and to “care?”  When your agenda is unpopular, you rename it — and you pejoratively rename those who disagree.

The Culture Control Left are also masters of changing definitions when necessary.  One writer notes the Left’s substitution of “climate change” for “global warming” when the weather refused to cooperate with the narrative:

the phrase “Global Warming” … was replaced almost overnight with ‘Climate Change,’ mostly because we had had several winters where it was, unsurprisingly, cold.  Rather than rock their narrative, the Left merely rebranded Global Warming.  It was certainly easier than admitting they were wrong….  Naturally, this twist of our language was reinforced by the mainstream media, which quickly adopts the phrase du jour and adds it to its liberal lexicon.

As Benjamin Dierker writes in The Federalist:  “Through linguistic activism, leftists have begun a full-scale war on language, playing by their own set of constantly shifting rules…. [T]he modern American lexicon is changing faster than society can keep up.”

Once definition is controlled, once language itself is controlled, language then becomes a means of control.  “‘Hate speech’ is the key concept that the CCL deploys to justify ‘cancelling’ adherents to positions judged to be transgressive, and to impose greater state regulation of peaceful expression,” writes British author March Glendening.  “The ill-defined nature of what constitutes hate speech represents a serious threat to our capacity to engage in open, democratic debate.  The [Culture Control Left] should be recognised as a force for a primitive, pre-Enlightenment style of politics which seeks to use state power to severely curtail the parameters of debate.”

If we wanted to, how could we fight back?  We could begin by resisting the impulse to use the lexicon of the Left, which causes us to lose the battle before it begins.  Is there really anything wrong with referring to a homosexual as a homosexual, rather than the “gay?”  Why would we call an “unborn baby” a “fetus?”  If we are discussing a man wearing a dress who “thinks” he is a woman, do we really need to refer to him as “her”?  Are we required to participate in that person’s delusion out of politeness?  “[T]aking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”  Ephesians 6:16.

Now, if you are an employee and could be fired for “misgendering” a coworker, that presents a different issue.  We are told in Matthew 27:16 “count the cost” before you go to battle, and not every fight needs to be fought.  But when we can resist, we should resist.  We did not start this, but the battle with the counter-culture is on, and there is more honor in being defeated than in capitulating.  

Editor’s Note: To read the articles in this series, please click here.

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