Stanford Gets Rude Awakening by Own Professor After Including 'American' in 'Forbidden Words' Index


I’m not one for trigger warnings, but there are a few things you should know before you read the following:

1)If you have high blood pressure, relax and try not to get mad. But on the other hand, 2) You may not want to be drinking a liquid while reading this, because anger or laughter may cause you to spit it out onto your computer or phone.

Okay? Let us begin.

One of the world’s great universities, Stanford, has put out a document called the “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative.”

The initiative lists all kinds of words one should not use: “paraplegic,” “brave,” “chief,” “people of color” and more.

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And there is one forbidden word that has set off a prominent Stanford medical school faculty member: “American.”

“I remember how proud I was when I became a naturalized American citizen,” tweeted Dr. Jay Bhattacharya in response to Stanford’s language directive.

“I’m still proud to be an American, and I don’t care that Stanford disapproves of my using the term.”

Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine who specializes in health policy, infectious diseases, COVID, health economics and scientific freedom.

If his name is familiar to you, it’s because he is co-author of The Great Barrington Declaration, a dissenting document against the establishment’s policies on COVID, signed by 16,000 medical professionals and scientists and 47,000 medical practitioners.

Speaking of harmful language, Bhattacharya is one who has been called a “fringe epidemiologist” whose beliefs needed a “quick and devastating published take down,” according to former National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins in a 2020 email to Anthony Fauci.

At any rate, Bhattacharya proudly calls himself an American, despite the goofy Stanford language initiative.

“I don’t think lists of banned words have the intended effect of causing people to treat others with compassion,” he tweeted. “In my experience, they often have the opposite effect. Eventually, the thought police convict everyone.”

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The term “American” should not be used, according to Stanford’s categorization of “Imprecise Language,” since “this term often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas (which is actually made up of 42 countries).”

Do you think woke colleges are too far gone to save?

Ah, no, Stanford. As with so many terms, “American” is universally recognized as a term meaning a citizen of the United States. Just like “Mexico” is what we say instead of the official title of United Mexican States. And a lot of North Americans who live in Canada would be insulted to be referred to as “Americans.”

Instead of “American,” Stanford wants us to say “U.S. citizen.”

Also, we should not say “paraplegic.” That is ableist language.

Rather, according to Stanford, we should use the terms “person with a spinal cord injury,” or a “person who is paralyzed.” Note that one way to tell if something is a top-down, politically correct term is its multiplication of words.

And why should we jettison “paraplegic?” Because, according to Stanford, “This term generalizes a population of people while also implying that people with disabilities are not capable.”

No, I don’t understand that explanation either, but then I haven’t spent $58,000 annual tuition at Stanford, so it’s no wonder it’s a mystery to me.

We should not use the word “chief,” since that is cultural appropriation from indigenous communities.

Rather, instead of “chief,” we should just use the person’s name. Somehow I believe police chiefs around the country are comfortable with their title and have never thought in terms of cultural appropriation.

Same with the word “brave.” Can’t use that, either – cultural appropriation. So now I guess it should be: “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Somethings.”

The word “user” is forbidden, too. It might make those “who suffer from substance abuse issues” feel bad. Say “client” instead.

You should not write a “white paper,” since that “assigns value connotations based on color (white = good), an act which is subconsciously racialized.”

Never speak of “killing two birds with one stone,” since that “normalizes violence against animals.”

Oh, and the term “trigger warning” is out, too, since “the phrase can cause stress about what’s to follow. Additionally, one can never know what may or may not trigger a particular person.” Instead, say “content note.”

Okay. “Content note” it is. Forgive the first sentence of this commentary.

“African-American” is a problem, too, or as academics like to say “problematic.” That’s because “Black people who were born in the United States can interpret hyphenating their identity as ‘othering.’

“As with many of the terms we’re highlighting, some people do prefer to use/be addressed by this term, so it’s best to ask a person which term they prefer to have used when addressing them,” the Stanford language initiative intones.

One can imagine how this can be applied.

Stanford white person: “What do you want to be called?”

Stanford black/African-American/person-of-color: “What do you mean?”

Stanford WP: “Should I call you black or African-American?”

Stanford b/AF/POC: “You can call me Robert.”

Incidentally, the term “people of color” is a problem, according to Stanford. Instead, it should be “BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color)” and “if speaking about a specific group, name that group.”

Why? Well, you’ll just have to pay $58,000 per year to learn these fine details.

And think about how bright guys like Jay Bhattacharya not only have to deal with misguided, perhaps dangerous, people in public health, but also with the foolishness that goes on at their very campus.

You can read more goodies in the Stanford Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative linked here.

Please note that it begins with a trigger warning — er — a content note. Actually, it’s a hybrid term: “Content Warning: This website contains language that is offensive or harmful. Please engage with this website at your own pace.”

You have been warned.

And I can’t wait for the new forbidden words coming in 2023.

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.