Employees of the Federal Reserve received some guidance from the Board of Governors back in April on how to communicate properly both in-house and with the public. As you might expect, it was an adventure in wokeness.
“Try to avoid words and phrases that may be considered offensive, pejorative, or prejudiced (whether consciously or unconsciously), as these can distract your audience from the ideas/information you’re trying to convey,” the guidance explained.
For most rational, sane human beings, it’s “distracting” to have this painfully conscious attempt to rid the language of perceived “bias.” In fact, it’s downright jarring when you’re forced to try and understand why someone wouldn’t want to communicate as clearly as possible.
The guidance contains a list of “biased terms” to avoid, including “blacklist,” “grandfathered,” and “Founding Fathers.” Employees are instructed to use terms like “denied,” “legacy,” and “Founders” instead.
The Fed also said the terms “whitelisted, “manpower,” “manmade,” and “singular generic pronouns” – such as “he,” she,” “his,” and “hers” – should be replaced with more “bias-free” alternatives like “allowed,” “artificial,” and pronouns such as “they,” “their” and “theirs.”
This is not an attempt to eliminate “bias.” The bias will be there no matter what words are used. It’s silly to imagine otherwise. This is no less than an attempt to eliminate gender distinctions and mutilate the language to make it incomprehensible.
Only then can we be properly instructed in what something really means.
What makes this effort so ridiculous is that advocates of bias-free language are dealing with hundreds of years of usage. It’s become part of the way we communicate. No one can change that by simply issuing “guidance,” or writing a memo or a book, and ordering the change.
King Canute would have had better luck ordering the tide not to come in.
San Diego officials in 2016 had to walk back similar guidance, which instructed city employees not to use the term “Founding Fathers,” before it was scrapped.
We refer to the “Founding Fathers” because it is universally accepted that the group of colonists who gathered in Philadelphia in 1776 and created the United States out of an idea were all male. That’s not to say there weren’t females influencing the proceedings. Abigail Adams would rightly take offense at that. But at the time of America’s founding, women were condemned to a subservient public role.
The fact that it was terribly unfair doesn’t change the history of the time, no matter how woke modern sensibilities might be.
Oftentimes, advocates for eliminating bias from language simply want change for the sake of change. They are the enemies of tradition. All change is not good, just like all traditions are not good. Most people can discern where the truth lies and should be free to continue using language that is universally accepted in order to effectively communicate ideas.
Otherwise, we’re going to become the Tower of Babel on steroids.