Favorite Politically Correct Terms

Let me say to start off that I enjoy being politically correct. Political correctness does not merit the dominant negative connotation it seems to possess in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere). People should strive to uplift and respect this idea, because political correctness is not about limiting free speech, or monopolizing debate; instead it is about bettering society through the rectification of language.

As an aspiring historian, one of my greatest draws to this métier is the ability to construct historical narratives. All of history is a narrative, and any time you talk about the past there are things that the source leaves out, includes, or changes to suit their purpose. This is natural and inevitable. As a teacher, professor or writer on history, I would be able to construct my own narratives for students and readers, reflecting my own understandings and emphases. When you think about it, that's powerful indeed.

Just as historical revision is not only positive, but necessary, so to is the progression of political correctness, and as you'll see, the two are often linked. Here are some of my favorite politically correct terms, including what they replace and a brief explanation.

The Anglo-Celtic Isles, or the Isles (replacing the "British" Isles): We should know full well that Ireland is not British, nor does it want to be. Here in the United States, a country founded on breaking with Britain and filled with Irish genes, anyone caught talking about the "British" Isles needs to be taught a lesson.

Britain (replacing "Great" Britain): What a lame and unnecessary adjective! (see above).

The Subcontinent (replacing the "Indian" Subcontinent): The term South Asia, of course, is just as good, but for some reason I enjoy talking about the Subcontinent, and I'm always sure to leave off the adjective "Indian" for the sake of all Pakistanis, Bengalis, Nepalese and Bhutanese.

Native Americans, or Natives (replacing "Indians," "American Indians," or "Amerindians"): Again, "Indian" just has to be destroyed in this terminology. I, who already hate Columbus so much for the undue attention he receives, simply cannot bear that this idiot's mistake should continue to bear so much influence on how the most mistreated peoples in American history are described. Indeed, whenever possible, Native Americans should be referred to by the actual name of their people. Stop being ignorant when talking about "Indians" and start being respectful.

Denali (replacing "Mount McKinley"): What's more important when it comes to the historical narrative imparted by the name of the highest point in North America - what it was called for hundreds of years, or the fact that some white man named it when McKinley was President? I honestly feel shame whenever someone or something refers to "Mt. McKinley." Get with the program, please.

Haida Gwaii (which replaced "the Queen Charlotte Islands"): Again, I am utterly ashamed that Wikipedia has not changed in step with official Canadian policy. (You can read my article from last year for more information.)

Perhaps Wikipedia battles will be a coming topic for the blog...

[9.13.2012 Please note that the Wikipedia article title for the place formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands now has been changed to Haida Gwaii.]

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