Congress Institutionalizes Dangerous Distortions of Language

The rules package for the 117th Congress requires pronouns to “to be gender neutral or removes references to gender, as appropriate, to ensure we are inclusive of all Members, Delegates, Resident Commissioners and their families—including those who are nonbinary.” The rules banish words like father, mother, son, daughter, uncle, or aunt. In strict compliance, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat and an ordained United Methodist minister, concluded his prayer with “Amen and a-woman.”

Such distortions of language generally send critics scurrying to George Orwell, author of 1984, Animal Farm, and the essay “Politics and the English Language,” in which the author finds that “the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes.” Those works hold enduring value but Orwell is not the only one to weigh in. According to Eric Voegelin, “ideologies destroy language inasmuch as the ideological thinker has lost contact with reality and develops symbols for expressing not reality but his state of alienation from it.” The new congressional rules showcase that disconnect with reality.

As Orwell and Voegelin both noted, distortion of language is a favorite practice of totalitarian dictators such as Stalin and Hitler. With remarkable foresight, 1984 showed what totalitarianism would be like under INGSOC, English Socialism. In The New Science of Politics, Eric Voegelin revealed an underlying principle. Those seeking to create heaven on earth, within history, set out to “immanentize the eschaton.” All previous attempts have resulted in tyranny, poverty and death on a massive scale. 

There is no reason to believe AMSOC, American Socialism, would be any different. Distortion of language by Congress is a disturbing development. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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