No More 'Illegal Immigrants'?

Has no one on the Diversity Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists ever read any Shakespeare, or maybe just seen "Hamlet"?  That group, as reported on December 29, 2010 by cnsnews.com, "is undertaking an educational campaign against the term 'illegal immigrant' seeking to inform reporters that the term 'illegal immigrant' is 'offensive' to Latinos." (Italics added; see story here.)

In the play, Hamlet stages an elaborate tableaux, the famous "Mouse-trap", the play-within-the-play.  He means for the play -- spiked with adulterated dialog and discomfiting psychological acuity -- to get under the skin of the murderous usurper of his father's throne, and elicit proof of the pretender's guilt.  When the damning scene is enacted, the shaken king Claudius ups, with a start and a violent flourish in most productions, and storms from the performance.  The reason:  something too close for comfort has just been played out before him.  He has suddenly recognized himself.

A member of the above-mentioned committee, Leo E. Laurence, J.D., writes, in the current issue of the organ's magazine Quill (November/December 2010, p. 15; see issue here), that the terms "illegal alien . . . and illegal immigrant [are] offensive to many Latinos, and especially Mexicans, and to the fundamentals of American jurisprudence."

Really, Mr. Laurence?  For real?  Why?  Why should "illegal alien" offend Hispanics (oops ... sorry, Latinos and Mexicans) more than it would someone who snuck in here from Kazakhstan, or Borneo, or Prinde Edward Island, for that matter?  "Give me some light:  away!" quoth the king.  "Lights!  Lights!  Lights!"  What can you possibly think you are doing for Latinos with this clumsy subterfuge?  Why do you like better what you call the "preferred phrase," that is, "undocumented immigrant?"  Here's a tip:  they're undocumented because they're illegal!  And because they want to be under the radar.

Mr. Laurence, J.D. goes on to say, telling us -- with a peculiarly light didactic touch, as if meant for ESLers -- not just what he learned, but also where he learned it, that:

One of the most basic of our constitutional rights is that everyone (including non-citizens) is innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law. That's guaranteed under the Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, as I learned during four-year post-doctoral studies in appellate law at the California Court of Appeal in San Diego.

The presumption of innocence is an ancient tenet of criminal law. That legal doctrine is basic to our commonlaw system of jurisprudence. It has also been adapted by many countries following the Napoleonic, civil-law legal system including Italy, Spain, Brasil, Poland, the Philippines, Russia and the United Nations. It's often expressed by the phrase "innocent until proven guilty," credited to English lawyer Sir William Garrow (1760-1840).

Simply put, only a judge, not a journalist, can say that someone is an illegal.  (Italics in original)

Now, honestly, Mr. Laurence.  No, ... no, really.  You can't seriously intend to muddy further the already turbid waters of the Swamp of Political Correctness by even dreaming of targeting a generic term like "illegal aliens" and turning it into a cussword.  Nobody quoted in your article spoke of any actual person, living or dead, being defamed with this appellation.  And what's the big deal, anyway?  In case there's a need -- say, if you want to work in government -- if you have a birth certificate, you show it, and it's over.  Right?  (Well, except for one case I can think of. . . .)

No, you seem to object to the general use -- in general terms, about a general population -- of the phrase itself.  You're not getting away with that, even if it did take you until your fourth year of post-doctoral studies to learn sixth-grade civics.  We all know that there are "illegal aliens" in this country, lots of them.  Did I mention that they're aliens who are here illegally?  Your attempt to turn plain-spoken objective fact into a constitutional issue of defamation, or into a pejorative, strains to remake reality itself.  This is a new low in the lawyerly tormenting of the English language.

Mr. Laurence, there are migrating birds in the sky:  some go off-course and settle.  There are wafting spores in the air:  some may take root.  And for sure, there are illegal aliens in this country:  they enter, they drift, they settle, and they have anchor babies.  But not by accident.  We can talk about them -- as a group -- without injuring any particular individual illegal alien.  Some might have made very nice legal citizens.  Some less so.  Some no way.  But we'd better talk about them.  Illegal is illegal until it becomes legal, despite your waterboarding of English.  Description is not adjudication, and no one confuses the two.  Except perhaps the Society of Professional Journalists' Diversity Committee.

We'd better talk about them because they're stressing the citizens of our southern border states.  And increasingly, the rest of us.  They're profoundly straining our resources.  They are -- not entirely, but for the most part -- the imported personification of illiteracy and persistent non-acculturation.  They're beginning to skew the integrity of our elections.  They are a downward pressure on salaries, and an upwards demographic pressure on stressed schools and hospitals.  They are the battered football in a decades-long two-party scrimmage.  It's the Latinos -- not the immigrant speakers of Hindi, Swedish, or Cantonese -- who are eroding and unravelling the linguistic hegemony of the English language, which has knit our vast country together.  For the most part, they are not political refugees or the objects of government vendetta or persecution, but rather opportunists in the historical cloak of the noble immigrant.  That term "immigrant" is their would-be emotional passport to respectability.  Alas, most of them are not immigrants in the ordinary, more benign sense of the word:  you know, like great-grandpa.  Great-gramps stood in line, asked permission, and waited.  But there'll be no Ellis Island register of these names.  They're coming whether you like it or not.  And they're not going to wait.

Streaming over our southern border ‑‑ headed north, Mr. Laurence, that's this-a-way ‑‑ along with lots of uneducated Latino illegals, whose fastidious sensitivities mean so much to you, are large numbers of suspected Islamojihadist extremists, determined devils bent on murder.[1]  Middle Eastern and South Asian types masquerading as ‑‑ yes! ‑‑ Hispanic illegal aliens.  That's t‑e‑r‑r‑o‑r‑i‑s‑t‑s, Mr. Laurence.  We need to be able to speak the English language without tripping at every turn over every hour's newest de rigeur euphemistic palliative.  Nice try, counsellor, but by order of the Court of Common Sense, sitting in and for the jurisdiction of the USA, your objection is overruled.


[1]  "Hezbollah Terrorists On Our Southern Border", Heritage Foundation, July 19, 2010, Ray Walser, Ph.D. author.  http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2010/07/hezbollah-terrorists-on-our-southern-border
Has no one on the Diversity Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists ever read any Shakespeare, or maybe just seen "Hamlet"?  That group, as reported on December 29, 2010 by cnsnews.com, "is undertaking an educational campaign against the term 'illegal immigrant' seeking to inform reporters that the term 'illegal immigrant' is 'offensive' to Latinos." (Italics added; see story here.)

In the play, Hamlet stages an elaborate tableaux, the famous "Mouse-trap", the play-within-the-play.  He means for the play -- spiked with adulterated dialog and discomfiting psychological acuity -- to get under the skin of the murderous usurper of his father's throne, and elicit proof of the pretender's guilt.  When the damning scene is enacted, the shaken king Claudius ups, with a start and a violent flourish in most productions, and storms from the performance.  The reason:  something too close for comfort has just been played out before him.  He has suddenly recognized himself.

A member of the above-mentioned committee, Leo E. Laurence, J.D., writes, in the current issue of the organ's magazine Quill (November/December 2010, p. 15; see issue here), that the terms "illegal alien . . . and illegal immigrant [are] offensive to many Latinos, and especially Mexicans, and to the fundamentals of American jurisprudence."

Really, Mr. Laurence?  For real?  Why?  Why should "illegal alien" offend Hispanics (oops ... sorry, Latinos and Mexicans) more than it would someone who snuck in here from Kazakhstan, or Borneo, or Prinde Edward Island, for that matter?  "Give me some light:  away!" quoth the king.  "Lights!  Lights!  Lights!"  What can you possibly think you are doing for Latinos with this clumsy subterfuge?  Why do you like better what you call the "preferred phrase," that is, "undocumented immigrant?"  Here's a tip:  they're undocumented because they're illegal!  And because they want to be under the radar.

Mr. Laurence, J.D. goes on to say, telling us -- with a peculiarly light didactic touch, as if meant for ESLers -- not just what he learned, but also where he learned it, that:

One of the most basic of our constitutional rights is that everyone (including non-citizens) is innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law. That's guaranteed under the Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, as I learned during four-year post-doctoral studies in appellate law at the California Court of Appeal in San Diego.

The presumption of innocence is an ancient tenet of criminal law. That legal doctrine is basic to our commonlaw system of jurisprudence. It has also been adapted by many countries following the Napoleonic, civil-law legal system including Italy, Spain, Brasil, Poland, the Philippines, Russia and the United Nations. It's often expressed by the phrase "innocent until proven guilty," credited to English lawyer Sir William Garrow (1760-1840).

Simply put, only a judge, not a journalist, can say that someone is an illegal.  (Italics in original)

Now, honestly, Mr. Laurence.  No, ... no, really.  You can't seriously intend to muddy further the already turbid waters of the Swamp of Political Correctness by even dreaming of targeting a generic term like "illegal aliens" and turning it into a cussword.  Nobody quoted in your article spoke of any actual person, living or dead, being defamed with this appellation.  And what's the big deal, anyway?  In case there's a need -- say, if you want to work in government -- if you have a birth certificate, you show it, and it's over.  Right?  (Well, except for one case I can think of. . . .)

No, you seem to object to the general use -- in general terms, about a general population -- of the phrase itself.  You're not getting away with that, even if it did take you until your fourth year of post-doctoral studies to learn sixth-grade civics.  We all know that there are "illegal aliens" in this country, lots of them.  Did I mention that they're aliens who are here illegally?  Your attempt to turn plain-spoken objective fact into a constitutional issue of defamation, or into a pejorative, strains to remake reality itself.  This is a new low in the lawyerly tormenting of the English language.

Mr. Laurence, there are migrating birds in the sky:  some go off-course and settle.  There are wafting spores in the air:  some may take root.  And for sure, there are illegal aliens in this country:  they enter, they drift, they settle, and they have anchor babies.  But not by accident.  We can talk about them -- as a group -- without injuring any particular individual illegal alien.  Some might have made very nice legal citizens.  Some less so.  Some no way.  But we'd better talk about them.  Illegal is illegal until it becomes legal, despite your waterboarding of English.  Description is not adjudication, and no one confuses the two.  Except perhaps the Society of Professional Journalists' Diversity Committee.

We'd better talk about them because they're stressing the citizens of our southern border states.  And increasingly, the rest of us.  They're profoundly straining our resources.  They are -- not entirely, but for the most part -- the imported personification of illiteracy and persistent non-acculturation.  They're beginning to skew the integrity of our elections.  They are a downward pressure on salaries, and an upwards demographic pressure on stressed schools and hospitals.  They are the battered football in a decades-long two-party scrimmage.  It's the Latinos -- not the immigrant speakers of Hindi, Swedish, or Cantonese -- who are eroding and unravelling the linguistic hegemony of the English language, which has knit our vast country together.  For the most part, they are not political refugees or the objects of government vendetta or persecution, but rather opportunists in the historical cloak of the noble immigrant.  That term "immigrant" is their would-be emotional passport to respectability.  Alas, most of them are not immigrants in the ordinary, more benign sense of the word:  you know, like great-grandpa.  Great-gramps stood in line, asked permission, and waited.  But there'll be no Ellis Island register of these names.  They're coming whether you like it or not.  And they're not going to wait.

Streaming over our southern border ‑‑ headed north, Mr. Laurence, that's this-a-way ‑‑ along with lots of uneducated Latino illegals, whose fastidious sensitivities mean so much to you, are large numbers of suspected Islamojihadist extremists, determined devils bent on murder.[1]  Middle Eastern and South Asian types masquerading as ‑‑ yes! ‑‑ Hispanic illegal aliens.  That's t‑e‑r‑r‑o‑r‑i‑s‑t‑s, Mr. Laurence.  We need to be able to speak the English language without tripping at every turn over every hour's newest de rigeur euphemistic palliative.  Nice try, counsellor, but by order of the Court of Common Sense, sitting in and for the jurisdiction of the USA, your objection is overruled.


[1]  "Hezbollah Terrorists On Our Southern Border", Heritage Foundation, July 19, 2010, Ray Walser, Ph.D. author.  http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2010/07/hezbollah-terrorists-on-our-southern-border

RECENT VIDEOS