Apparently, the phrase "native American" no longer exists in politically correct language. Even my computer knows this.
When I was teaching for the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, a colleague had penned a book, titled "Dancing at Halftime." After meticulous research, she concluded that it was wrong to use Indian dress for halftime ceremonies, but she also concluded that the best way to define American Indians is to say American Indians.
Other politically correct language is just as strange as Native American. We no longer have law enforcement majors. Instead, we have criminal justice majors. Ponder that for a few minutes. We now have persons of interest, who may or may not be interesting persons. "Suspected criminal" is insensitive. We no longer offer remedial English classes because we're suggesting that something (like language usage) needs to be remedied, and to suggest a language flaw would diminish a student's self-esteem. The replacement was developmental English. One day, developmental English could be replaced since it, too, could scar self-esteem.
When I asked my developmental students to write about three of their main writing weaknesses, one wrote that she was having trouble with her comas. Working hard, she awoke and conquered commas. Did something there need a remedy? You bet it did. I found it was easy to begin questioning my own knowledge of language when I read placement essays with the same misspelled word in paper after paper.
While we English professors were evaluating those essays, I looked across the table at a colleague and said, "Have I been misspelling peer all these years?"
He said, "I know what you mean. I was beginning to wonder, too." Almost all the students had written that they were having problems with pier pressure.
As for political correctness, one male student, in an effort not to offend anyone, wrote the following on the topic of premarital sex: "I don't believe in premarital sex because he or she might get pregnut (sic)." Those students are probably running Fortune 500 companies now, for they learned to be sensitive and were filled to the brim with self-esteem. In today's job market, those are important qualities.
Contact writer Dolly Withrow at ritew...@aol.com.