“We’re all Americans,” you might say to express solidarity, or a sense of kinship, with your fellow citizens.
But don’t do that anymore! You might hurt somebody’s feelings.
The Americas encompass a lot more than the United States. There is South America, Central America, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean just to name a few of 42 countries in total. That’s why the word “americano” in Spanish can refer to anything on the American continent.
Yet, when we talk about “Americans” in the United States, we’re usually just referring to people from the United States. This erases other cultures and depicts the United States as the dominant American country.
Even if you believe in the power of words (as I do), it’s hard to see how calling a U.S. citizen “an American” “erases” other cultures.
This is encouraging young people to go out of their way to take offense or spot offenses where none exists.
Before you laugh at this as the latest example of political correctness, the Inclusive Language Guide protests:
The guide is not about political-correctness or policing grammar, but rather helping communicators practice inclusive language and helping everyone on our campus feel welcomed, respected, and valued.
You’d have to have a pretty big chip on your shoulder to be offended when somebody says, “I am addicted to Netflix,”
But the Inclusive Language Guide sees potential for hurt feelings:
While addicted can be appropriate in some situations, it can also cause harm to those who are truly experiencing drug addiction or are in recovery, or have friends/relatives who have experienced addiction.
A suggested substitute (for now) is “I’m hooked on.”
But aren’t addicts hooked on drugs?
Once you head down this road, almost anything can offend.
Still, it takes a vivid imagination to believe that modern person of Irish descent will experience hurt feeligs by hearing the term paddy wagon.
Nevertheless, the Inclusive Language Guide discourages the use of paddy wagon–just in case you run into a hyper sensitive person of Irish descent.
What might be better is a guide telling young people how to buck up, suck it up, and not take offense at just about anything.
That, after all, is the American way.