The Rectification of Names: Confucius Takes on Political Correctness
Kong Qiu, known in the West as Confucius (from Kong Fuzi, “Master Kong”), is the first individual whose birthday we know: September 28, 551. Happy birthday to Qiu.
One of the Master’s core doctrines was “the rectification of names.” As he explained to a disciple, “If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on successfully.”
The left has long recognized this. For generations, with great ingenuity and diligence, the cadres have worked at manipulating language.
They had little choice. Marx’s prophesy did not come to pass: the workers failed to rise up and overthrow the bourgeoisie. Instead, whenever they could, the ingrates chose to join the ranks of the middle class. So it was up to leftists, mostly disaffected members of the bourgeoisie, to seize power in their name. They did this violently in war-ravaged Russia and more slowly and stealthily in Western Europe and the U.S. But by the time the Long March through the universities and newsrooms was completed, the workers were a distant third among the blessed oppressed, trailing “people of color” and women. Among the sacred Trinity, they were an increasing pale Holy Ghost.
History and biology have not been kind to the left. It’s no accident, as Marxists used to say, that the nomenklatura is so fixated on language, and so ready to persecute violators of its shibboleths. Its grip on power and its programs depend on obfuscation. Leftists have become expert weavers of the emperor’s new clothes.
In honor of Confucius’s birthday, let’s start calling things by their proper names. This is a revolutionary act, and can be carried out every day in conversations with friends, relatives, and co-workers. If enough people begin calling things by their proper names, the emperor at some point will have to pull on a pair of jeans.
In honor of Confucius’s birthday, here are a few terms and the alternatives you can politely insist on when the conversation turns to history or politics.
National Socialists. The abbreviation of Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Worker’s Party) conveniently obscures the fact that the NSDAP was a socialist party, with its red flag and heavy recruitment from and tacit alliance with the German Communist Party. The NSDAP was aberrant in its antisemitism and aggressive nationalism, but until the era of international government after World War II, socialists in power inevitably morphed into nationalists, and nationalists, socialists. Today, though, nationalism is a bulwark against the agenda of global leftism, above all, mass immigration of Muslims.
Germans. As in “The Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939.” We don’t say the Democrats invaded North Africa in November 1942, or, with their Tory-Liberal-Labour Coalition allies, they invaded France in June 1944. The “Nazis” were not some alien life form that landed in Central Europe in 1933. Apart from the quarter of a million non-Jews who fled Germany after Hitler seized power, the overwhelming majority of his countrymen supported the Führer and enthusiastically carried out his orders until the end of the war.
European-American. Some E-As, disliking the Balkanization of the U.S. into hyphenated sub-groups, embrace the term white. But it doesn’t reflect any historical identification -- Europeans thought of themselves as Christians, or Jews, inhabiting Christendom, and identified with their family, village, and province. The term “white” deracinates European-Americans, cutting them off from the rich civilization that’s their inheritance.
4. “Affirmative Action”
Racial discrimination. Hubert Humphrey famously promised to eat the bill page by page if Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act mandated race-based hiring. In a short time, it did exactly that. The term was first used in an Executive Order (10925) issued by JFK requiring government contractors to be more aggressive in seeking qualified African-American employees. “Qualified” became increasingly qualified, until tests that were excellent predictors of performance were eliminated or given less weight than skin color.
5. “Climate Change”
No alternative. The term has all the significance of “Plant Death.” The climate has always changed, and far more dramatically even during the blink of an eye that humans have been on Earth. As for Anthropogenic Global Warming, there has been no evidence of warming for 18 years. China and India, each with over a billion people, have only industrialized since the 1960s. If GDP is a rough proxy for carbon dioxide emissions, atmospheric CO2 should rise in tandem with it. The GDP of India has skyrocketed from $63.5 billion in 1970 to $2.67 trillion today, that of China from about $91 billion to $10.36 trillion.
6. “Hate Crime”
Thought crime. Of course there’s a difference between spray-painting a swastika on synagogue and carving your initials in a tree. But this can be addressed without recourse to laws that are invidiously applied and are used to curtail First Amendment rights.
News reader. This is the term formerly used in Germany and other European countries. The readers were not celebrities; they rotated in and out of the position every few days.
Believer in human biodiversity.
Polite. And aware of gender differences. There are of course genuine racists and sexists, but the terms are used so promiscuously that a dozen innocents are smeared for every true bigot.
Arab. Arabs living in the Ottoman vilayets of Syria and Beirut, and the sanjak of Jerusalem, found themselves inhabiting a land rechristened Palestine in 1920, after the League of Nations awarded the territory, as a mandate, to Britain. The Brits, admirers of the Romans, selected the name chosen by the Emperor Hadrian in 135 C.E., after he’d vanquished and dispersed the Jews, who’d been living in what came to be called Judea and Israel since at least 1200 BCE. Nothing distinguished these Arabs from those who remained in Israel after 1948, and now number 1.65 million, or those in Jordan and Syria. They share the same language and culture -- and were no more willing to rebel against their Turkish overlords during five centuries of occupation. Tens of thousands of Arabs moved into the area after it was liberated and developed by the British. The term “Palestinian” was coined -- to refer to Arabs -- in 1964. It had previously designated Zionist settlers in the Holy Land.
12. “West Bank”
Judea and Samaria. The purely geographic term dates from 1948, and was invented by the Jordanians. At a time when we are rapidly restoring the Native American names for mountains, there’s no reason not to replace the clumsy designation with its historic name.
Europhobia. If multiculturalists were sincere about their commitment to “diversity,” the first thing they would have done would have been to require the teaching of all major foreign languages beginning in the 2nd or 3rd grade. You can’t appreciate another culture if you can’t read and speak its language. But such a mandate would fly in the face of progressive education and would traumatize the teachers’ unions. Multiculturalism is about denigrating America and the West, and teaching students that this contempt is the sine qua non of intellectual sophistication.
Knowledgeable about the history and doctrines of Islam. In two great waves beginning in the 7th and 14th centuries, Islam swept into Europe to conquer the natives and incorporate them into dar al Islam as dhimmis, “protected” so long as they paid the jizya, the tax on unbelievers, surrendered their arms, and demonstrated their submission to their rulers in various other humiliating ways. We are now witnessing the third wave, the hijrah, conquest through mass immigration. The Islam that’s being imported is more radical and Judeophobic than the doctrines inspiring the armies of the caliphs. This time sharia law will not be imposed by the sword, but by politicians courting votes and judges seeking to show that they are non-judgmental.
No doubt readers can come up with more terms that need to be replaced.
“Political correctness is ruining our country,” Ben Carson said recently, after being pummeled by the media for stating that he could not support a Muslim for President “unless he publicly rejected the tenets of sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”
Political correctness will be eradicated when it’s exposed and ridiculed in conversations around living room tables, in restaurants, after church, by the proverbial water cooler.
“When it is clear the goal cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goal, adjust the steps,” said Confucius. It’s through small steps by each of us that our language can be purified, and historical accuracy and common sense restored.