The Steel Soapbox … the word “Illegals”
Elie Wisel, a Holocaust survivor, wrote of the dark time of Jewish persecution to which he was subjected. He addressed the issue of “illegal aliens” with these words:
“You, who are so-called illegal aliens, must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”
So how can a person be “illegal”?
Illegal is technically an adjective, it is not a noun… however it has become a derogatory term in noun format. Thus the term illegal should not be used with the word immigrant or alien.
I can hear the shouts already but they are “illegal immigrants” because they came here “illegally”. They broke the law thus they are “illegal”.
Okay, okay quiet down let us look at two examples. Know anyone who has treaded beyond ‘the stay off the grass sign’, have you, if so then you and the rest should be labeled an “illegal walker” because you broke a law. What about all those who speed should they not be labeled as “illegal drivers”. In both examples a law broken so why not under the idea that illegal is doing something against the law we do not use that term.
That is silly I hear whispering out in cyber-land, those are simple examples that are minor breaks in the law that are common everyday offenses. Not like coming into the country “illegally” to steal our jobs…that is theft and thus “illegal”.
Okayyyy, well then what of convicted hard core law-breakers: so let us go deeper. Do we refer to murderers are “illegal murderers”? Tax evaders as “illegal tax evaders”? Thieves as “illegal thieves”….. no but we denounce and degrade immigrants. Think on that for a second.
Why use the term “illegals”? That is easy to see, basically certain factions in society want to dehumanized “those” who are not themselves. By calling people aliens and “illegals”, you set them apart from you as a human, and thus set yourself above that person.
Devote opponents will claim using any other term is just “Political Correctness” the ghastly PC wordage that is thrown up to counter any diversity or common decency phrases. But why? Again simple, because calling a person “undocumented” or an “immigrant” is… hmmm well making them human and that breaks the illusion that “those people” are “different” and thus part of the debauchery that is ruining America. The old scapegoat ploy…
Seems a bit silly does it not to get so riled up over a term, however when the term is used in a derogatory way, should we not get riled up? Is it right to degrade another? Is it moral or ethical to make one an non-entity, non-human?
Illegal is being used as a code word for racism. No it cannot be…. Sadly yes another sneak under the table way to lure average people into the white supremacy ideology without them even realizing it. That is why people today really need to step back and look in the mirror. Why am I using these word? Why do I dislike those people? Is it what I am hearing? Think, question your own morals.
The fact is, when you start calling or using terminology that sets a person, race, or culture as inferior to you, that is form of racism. Hard fact to face, and many will deny they are, but that is racism in a nutshell: to be superior to another due to them being different from you. I will deal with racism in another blog so for now back to the term “illegal”…..
If we used the term “undocumented” or “unauthorized” which is actually better term as it is the correct context, then we give these people a face, we make them human, and worse of all we give the chance at staying within the country though legal means. And that defeats the anger and hate needed to drive the “what is wrong with America attention” to those “illegals” for blaming rather than deal with issues and solving them.
Those that flaunt the words, see their blogs driven up with hits, ratings go high, and gives them a sense of importance. But that is what drives any controversial item, so should not the controversy be in the ways to address the issue and not in dehumanizing the people. Why cannot we see immigrants as humans not threats as our Statue of Liberty does. Those words written so long ago were not just for white Europeans, but for all:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
When you call someone”illegal” you are doing three things:
First you dehumanize the person, they are no longer a person but an “illegal” thing
Second you criminalize the person without trial. This is still the United States of American where you are innocent until conviction by trial. So calling someone illegal is going against one of our base foundations.
Third you show not only an ignorance of the English language but also a corrupted view using derogatory terms.
Sooooo is this the word you truly wish to use?
“’No human being is illegal’: linguists argue against mislabeling of immigrants” https://www.theguardian.com/…/illegal-immigrant-label-offen…
“No human being is illegal and Elie Wiesel”
“Constructing Immigrant ‘Illegality’: Critiques, Experiences, and Responses” Edited by Cecilia Menjívar and Daniel Kanstroom. (Cambridge 2013)
“Why ‘illegal immigrant’ is a slur”
“Latina Journalist Breaks Down Why Saying ‘Illegals’ Is Wrong On So Many Levels”
“What Part of ‘Illegal’ Don’t You Understand?”
“Respect For The Law & Economic Fairness: Illegal Immigration Prevention”
“No Human Being Is Illegal”