So, the Associated Press drops ‘illegal’ from immigrant. Of course I post about it on FB. And someone links to this response and argues “If you steal something, you are labeled a thief — it doesn’t mean that’s all you are, but in relation to your action, you are a thief.” I like the analysis in the linked blogpost… but probably not for the reasons intended by its author.
The analysis in the article is accurate. And I think that is precisely the point. It is not an epistemological or ontological position. It is a stance based on the semiotics of the term. Calling someone illegal implies that their entire existence is and should be an affront to all decent human beings. I think that is exactly the mindset of those who defend the term tooth and nail. It is dehumanizing. The word ‘thief’ does not have that kind of negative association. Maybe we should start calling them ‘illegal obtainers’ instead.
As a side-note: I don’t think “politically correct” is a bad word. In my experience it is used as a negative by the same people who use “liberal” and “intellectual” as a derogatory term. Or whose regular vocabulary includes “feminazi”.