Attacking Words and Phrases


When a writer or speaker frames an issue, they outline the boundaries of its discussion, the limitations and the emphases on what can be said. While framing the issue can be helpful, particularly if one wants to examine different points of view, it can also exclude essentials while zeroing in on minor or even irrelevant details.

A case in point is the recent attempt to shape the immigration debate according to the alleged offensiveness of the term “anchor babies”. Those who disfavor the enforcement of our immigration laws and the deportation of illegal aliens want to shine the spotlight on “offensive language” by the current scrum of presidential candidates or the detractors of their own position.

The nascent effort to declare “anchor babies” offensive and insulting, thereby to declare unfit for office those who use it, came to light during recent press questioning of Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, and later others.

Though I live in a state that has witnessed a huge influx of people from south of the border, I had never heard the term “anchor babies”, much less understood it to be offensive.

An anchor baby is the child of a pregnant illegal alien whose birth on U.S. soil will allow the woman and her family to “anchor” themselves to the country they have entered illegally, i.e., stay. It bypasses the established path for citizenship in place for decades, if not more than a hundred years, as well as the procedure for allowing aliens to reside legally in our country for a set period of time.

I suppose the word police who have declared use of “anchor babies” illegal, so to speak, are the same people who decry use of the term “illegal alien”, even though it is correct. An illegal alien is a citizen from another country who has entered the United States and is staying here in disobedience to the laws of this country. As such, the illegal alien often makes use of public resources without paying taxes, resources which are funded by lawful citizens and residents who are paying taxes.

The brouhaha is kind of funny because for years we have spoken about mail order brides preying on American men just so they can obtain residency or citizenship then, after an appropriate period, divorcing the American, taking his money, and living the high life in the U.S. instead of the impoverishment or diminishment of the country from which they came. Ulterior motives to obtain citizenship or residency should come as no surprise.

The effort to call illegal aliens undocumented workers, or something similar, is inaccurate and silly but allows the pretense of civility or dignity. A person is either here legally or illegally. I’m not sure what it would mean to be documented or undocumented. Are my children undocumented until they get their learner’s permits? Is it enough if I can produce their birth certificates? But what if an illegal alien can produce his or her foreign birth certificate or, better, his or her driver’s license from the country of origin? Are they then documented and, if so, has the question of their legal presence in the U.S. been resolved on that account?

Obviously not.

It’s not about illegal aliens being documented or not; it’s about them being here lawfully in the U.S.A. The word police fiddle with words and phrases to muddy the issue and stifle free expression. They are inaccurate, and their inaccuracy is bred by their dishonesty.

So how did some reporters determine that use of the term anchor babies was wrong? Who told them that? And why did that become an issue for them? The indignation is contrived.

It’s funny to hear Hillary Clinton puff herself up and wax moralistic and judgmental of those who use the term anchor babies. When she was asked a direct question about whether she “wiped” her private server, she coyly feigned ignorance and replied, “What, with a cloth or something?”

I am registered NPA – no party affiliation – but it shocks me that Democrats aren’t flying to Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, or even Joe Biden. How can they tolerate such disdain for the common man’s intellect!? Superficially, it appears her disdain is directed at the reporter. While reporters don’t always ask the right questions (see above), in this case most people want to know whether she wiped the server, if for no other reason than to put the issue to rest. So Clinton is really disdaining them and keeping the issue alive. One is right to suspect that she is at least doing something she believes is illicit, if not illegal.

In the end, complaints about candidates using the term anchor babies boil down to both an ad hominem attack and a straw man fallacy. Attacking the phrase creates a straw man that diverts attention from the fact that illegal immigrants have swarmed across our borders and are eating up our resources. It also represents an attack on a speaker’s character for its use. While perhaps not every couple has sought to have their baby on U.S. soil for the gambit of averting the consequences and responsibility of their illegal acts, at least some have. Those who try to liken anchor babies to the derogation “niggers” have misfired. Nigger was used deliberately throughout our prejudiced history to belittle a person solely because of his or her skin color. That was and is wrong. Anchor babies reflects a deliberate choice, an act with intent that masks the crime of illegal entry and stay in this country. It is using one’s own children to cover a crime. It’s like a convict complaining about being called a criminal. He is one.

All that said, there is one legitimate argument for a measured response to illegal immigration: the fact that private businesses quietly aided and abetted it for decades for their own financial gain, and the government turned a blind eye to help those agribusinesses. Together, they sabotaged American citizens and foisted this economic burden on them. They should pay a price for that, and even illegal immigrants, the good ones, deserve a chance to rectify their situations in a way that satisfies the law. By now too many immigrant children have grown up in America. To them, this is their country.


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