[AAACE-NLA] Response to Catherine King
kearney_lykins at yahoo.com
Thu May 3 22:57:23 EDT 2007
Catherine, and anyone else who wishes to change the English language,
Perhaps you are uncomfortable with the noun "alien" because you are associating it with the verb "alienate." I don't create words, but I have found that I am best able to communicate when I use them in accordance with given standards, such as dictionaries. "Alien" is a technical-legal term. In the context of immigration my Webster's says,
2 alien n 1: a person of another family, race, or nation 2 : a foreign-born resident who has not been naturalized and is still a subject or citizen of a foreign country
According to the glossary of terms on the US State Department's website [http://travel.state.gov/visa/frvi/glossary/glossary_1363.html]
an alien is: "a foreign national who is not a United States citizen."
Of course you can call illegal aliens "illegal people" but why would you purposely communicate so vaguely when we have a word that is far more specific?
I find strange your charge that conservatives have "an unquestioning attitude about how words form substance," especially given the point I was addressing when I noted how Kashdan's was quite insincere when she attempted to equate the term "illegal alien" with "illegal human." And her implication that that's what some people actually mean when they say "illegal alien" is plain silly. By the way, if anyone is justified using the term "illegal human" it is abortion advocates.
As for my characterization of the "New York Collective of Radical Educators" website as a place of liberal propaganda (and devoid of reasoned argument, not to mention any pedagogic substance), I stand by this claim, and I challenge anyone to demonstrate otherwise.
As for conservatives having an aversion to change, well yes, that is the idea. Aversion to bad change is good.
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Sent: Thursday, May 3, 2007 4:53:15 PM
Subject: AAACE-NLA Digest, Vol 48, Issue 6
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1. Re: Where's the teaching? (Diaz, Beatriz B.)
2. Re: Where's the teaching? (Catherine B. King)
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 13:23:27 -0500
From: "Catherine B. King" <cb.king at verizon.net>
Subject: Re: [AAACE-NLA] Where's the teaching?
To: "National Literacy Advocacy List sponsored by AAACE"
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Re: [AAACE-NLA] Where's the teaching?Hello Kearny:
Though I agree with some of what you are saying in your note (the legal issues), I do question your example of your complaint about "liberal" propaganda, thought, and websites, etc., i.e., changing "illegal aliens" to "illegal persons" or "people."
It is always a wonder to me when some of us, especially teachers, are so willing to accept the language that comes down to us from another time (and horizon) as somehow unquestionable and written in stone. Though conservatism has its sterling moments, this is not one of them--this unquestioning attitude about how language forms substance, and an aversion to change, are two of the problems of conservativism that could use a re-think on several levels.
Referring to "illegal aliens": In my view, illegal "person" or "people" is much more appropriate to the real situation--these people, in fact, can be illegal and remain persons without diminishing their status as social or human by calling them "aliens."
Whereas, "alien" is commonly used as a barbaric term (or now from science fiction), and derives from a time when we were not as identified (as we should be?) with humans as humans, and humans as WE are humans, e.g., through human rights, etc. We are not tribes any more (at least I hope not)--where "aliens" are considered sub-human in some way. We are instead members of a worldwide community of persons. Illegal--yes. Non-person--no. And if you or other CC's (conservatively correct) don't want to deny anyone their person-hood, why not call them that in our generic technical-legal terminology instead of continuing to refer to them as aliens?
And before you go there, using "people" is not "PC" but indicative of a human reality we are all striving for--and we better had strive for it if we are all to live together with the present technology at anyone's fingertips--those alienated persons who consider us here in the USA "impure" would also consider us "aliens."
To draw from your own argument, the legality is what is key, and I agree with you on the fact that we need to either follow the laws or seek to change them. We are country where the **rule of law** is key to our very survival as a democracy. But let's not just accept the status quo, on the one hand, and refer to an obvious attempt toward qualified change as "liberal propaganda" on the other.
As teachers, let us address the arguments on their own nuanced grounds instead. And let people check out websites and make up their own minds.
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