The "I" Word
From an e-mail from Sojourners, with the subject “Tell the Associated Press to stop using the ‘I’ word”:
Too often the media is part of the problem when it comes to changing the national debate on immigration. Following the standards set by the Associated Press Stylebook, journalists label undocumented immigrants as “illegal.” This dehumanizing term robs people of their dignity and prejudices readers against the needs and concerns of our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Why stop there? We’re calling people who break other laws the same thing, and worse! “Criminals”, “Offenders”, “Perpetrators”! These dehumanizing terms rob those people of their dignity, too.
But then there’s, you know, the truth. People who break laws are doing something illegal, by definition. But for some reason, Sojourners would like to change the language for a specific type of law-breaker; those who break our immigration laws.
As Proverbs 15:1 reminds us, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Ending the use of this controversial word by the media would create a more compassionate and accurate conversation about immigration. It is a small change that could make a huge difference. You can help make that happen.
The truth will set you free, folks. And it will also allow us to have a reasonable discussion about the problem of
illegal undocumented immigrants. If we can’t even agree on what you call someone who has broken the law, we can’t have an honest, compassionate, and, above all, accurate conversation.
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