Whew–it's still OK to refer to the Founding Fathers as…the Founding Fathers.
Even in our era of political correctness gone as haywire as a computer in a ransomware lock, the city of San Diego's insistence that its employees quit using the term "Founding Fathers" went a bit far.
City Hall recently published an edict on bias-free language – part of a larger correspondence manual for city workers.
“Our goal is to encourage bias-free language – language that does not create or perpetuate real or perceived prejudice – in our written and spoken communication,” the city explained in its manual.
So in the spirit of inclusion and neutrality the city directed employees to stop using words like mankind, manpower, gentleman’s agreement and Founding Fathers.
The politically correct term, accordng to the manual, was "Founders."
Even though the people who signed the Declaration of Independence, ghost-wrote the Federalist Papers, drafted the Constitution, and set up the first U.S. government in 1789 were, um. men. Yes, Betsy Ross designed the flag, and Molly Pitcher (or somrone just like her) fought alongside her husband in the Revolutionary War. Martha Washington and Dolley Madison were fabulous hostesses, and Dolley saved the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington when the British set fire to the White House in 1814. But those patriotic deeds didn't add up to designing and building a brand-new country, which is what the–excuse me–Founding Fathers did.
Fortunately, the "Founding Fathers" ban, which had been around for several years but appeared in a recently updated version of the guidelines, didn't last long. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“Suggesting that our Founding Fathers should be referred to as 'Founder' is political correctness run amok," [San Diego Mayor Kevin] Faulconer said in a statement released to The San Diego Union-Tribune on Wednesday. "We are proud of our nation's history, and there is nothing wrong with referring to the Founding Fathers. At my direction, this was removed yesterday from the City's correspondence manual. The manual will be reviewed for other misguided examples that defy common sense and changes will be made accordingly.”
Faulconer's statement came in response to a letter by a conservative legal group, the Pacific Justice Institute:
“Many Americans, including city employees, will no doubt be surprised to learn that the city considers them biased for merely mentioning ordinary words and phrases, like ‘the common man,’ ‘mankind,’ ‘manmade’ and ‘man up,’ to name a few of the parade of horribles,” the letter states. “Most alarmingly, though, is the guideline directive, on Page 76, that city employees should refrain from mentioning those to whom we owe our most fundamental freedoms, the Founding Fathers. The manual’s inane attempt to recast the fathers as simply ‘the Founders’ reaches a level of political correctness, censorship and insensitivity toward time-honored American values that is indefensible.”
The letter by senior staff attorney Matthew McReynolds went on to cite 1,500 references in Supreme Court rulings to the “Founding Fathers,” by justices of all political stripes.
What fascinates me is that, history aside, the very word "father" has become off-limits among the politically correct. Do they have something against fathers?