[guest post by Dana]
Progressive writer and CNN news commentator Sally Kohn wants you to stop using the “I” word when referencing those who have come into our country illegally because using the term is dehumanizing. Just like using the “N” word.
During the civil rights era, Alabama Gov. George Wallace was asked by a supporter why he was fixated on the politics of race. Wallace replied, “You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about n*ggers, and they stomped the floor.”
Once upon a time, the n-word and f-word were utterly acceptable terminology in undermining not only the basic rights but basic humanity of black people and gay people. That those terms seem radically inappropriate and out of step with mainstream culture now is only because social movements and legal and political changes have shifted the landscape. But make no mistake about it, words matter, not only in reflecting certain dehumanizing attitudes toward historically marginalized groups but in actively perpetuating and rationalizing that dehumanization.
So, in Kohn’s shameful attempt at equivalency, using an accurate, objective and non-personal term like “illegal” to describe people who enter our country illegally is the same as referring to a specific group of people (who never entered our country illegally) with an historically ugly term intentionally used to denigrate and dehumanize them during a shameful time in our nation’s history.
Ms. Kohn, I hate to break it to you, but no matter how you try to twist, shake and manipulate to make it otherwise, if you’ve come across the border illegally, then you are indeed, an illegal immigrant. There’s no two ways about it. Terminology does not and cannot change the facts, no matter how much you want it to.