As California Goes to Pot, Gov. Newsom Signs Woke Legislation to Remove 1 Word from State Laws


California is a mess. But it doesn’t use the word “alien” in official state codes anymore.

The state is in the midst of a homelessness crisis. It has the highest gas prices in America. Its COVID lockdowns and mask restrictions have decimated small businesses. Its leaders don’t feel bound by it — least of all Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose infamous dinner at the French Laundry has become emblematic of how our ruling class doesn’t play by their own rules.

But at least it doesn’t use the word “alien” in state code anymore.

Last week, U.S. Labor Department data revealed unemployment claims in California had skyrocketed, reaching their highest level since April. The state is dealing with an epidemic of shoplifting thanks to a 2014 law that turned theft into a misdemeanor provided under $950 of items were stolen. The state is currently in the midst of a spate of wildfires which are threatening its sequoias.

But, thank heavens, they’re not using the word “alien” in state code anymore. I was getting worried there.

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Proving that neither he nor the rest of California’s Democrats learned anything from the recall election other than he won by a sizable margin, Newsom signed legislation Friday which, yes, struck the word “alien” from the state’s code.

The bill, AB 1096, “removes the derogatory term ‘alien’ used to describe foreign-born individuals,” according to a media release from Newsom’s office.

“As the nation’s most diverse state, we are stronger and more vibrant because of our immigrant communities,” Newsom said in the statement.

“This important legislation removes the word ‘alien,’ which is not only an offensive term for a human being, but for far too long has fueled a divisive and hurtful narrative. By changing this term, we are ensuring California’s laws reflect our state’s values.”

Is "alien" an offensive term?

Wait, how is widely accepted legal terminology “an offensive term for a human being”? Let Newsom’s office explain.

“The term ‘alien’ has been used to identify individuals who were not born in the United States by the federal government since 1798 and in California since 1937,” the statement read.

“In the 1990s, the word ‘alien’ began to be used as a political dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using traditionally racist language. By 2015, the term was officially replaced with ‘noncitizen,’ however ‘alien’ is still widely used in many aspects of California law.”

Ah, yes, the old “dog-whistle” feint. In case you haven’t encountered this liberal tactic, if the left wants to declare certain language off-limits, one easy way to do it is to call it a dog-whistle.

For instance, “undocumented migrant” sounds a lot nicer than “illegal alien.” The latter gets to the heart of the matter: It’s a foreign-born individual who’s not legally in this country. The former sounds almost like someone who lost a few immigration papers.

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Ergo, “alien” is a dog-whistle. No evidence needs to be presented. Just stop using it.

Even the media release demonstrated Newsom’s misplaced priorities. In addition to AB 1096, his office announced, he’d “signed a series of bills to protect the health and safety of immigrants, including legislation to clarify safety standards at detention facilities, ensure rights and protections for unaccompanied undocumented minors, and cement protection for immigrants under hate crime legislation.”

Each one of those is more substantive than removing the word “alien” from California’s state code. Whether or not you agree with those things is beside the point — they have a tangible effect.

What did Newsom’s office tout right at the top of the release? Extirpating a “dog-whistle” word from the books because it’s “fueled a divisive and hurtful narrative.”

Newsom may have won the recall election by a reasonable margin, but he still fails to understand why there was a recall in the first place — and why the polls were reasonably close until his campaign started raising and spending huge amounts of cash on the race.

California’s COVID policies paralyzed the state’s economy. The state remains as unaffordable as ever. Homelessness is rampant. Its leaders are hypocrites. The state is going to pot.

What needed fixing? That word, apparently.

California had its chance to stop this madness in 2021. It has another chance in 2022. If its citizens don’t avail themselves of the opportunity, they have only themselves to blame for their problems.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture