To those offended by the word 'American'

If you reside in the U.S. and you are offended by the word “American," then this could get awkward

To those offended by the word 'American'

Photo by Michael Dougherty/Flickr

By Jeff Edwards

If your body physically resides in the United States of America and you are offended by the word “American”, then prepare to call your therapist, because this is going to get awkward.

The University of New Hampshire recently released a biased-free language guide so that everyone could feel welcomed on their apparently enlightened campus. It, of course, included words regarding race, gender, and sexual orientation that can certainly be abused.

However, they then went full trigger warning crazy and decided that any word that is apparently descriptive at all must surely be offensive to someone and therefore discouraged. Among them were dastardly words like: “fathering”, “mothering”, “elders”, “overweight”, “dumb”, “manpower”, “freshman”, “mailman”, and yes, “American”.

University of New Hampshire, biased free language guide
Yes, this is actually happening. (via kplctv)

The Cliche

Now, let me go ahead and apologize ahead of time to the female mailman who decided on this career when she was a freshman in college to help the postal office achieve its manpower goals because the dumb overweight elders of the post office had poor mothering and fathering. This article is not really about you, but did I get all the words in?

For the sake of this article, I am going to zero in on one specific word in this tirade of tolerance. Namely, American.

The premise put forward by this guide is that the Americas are actually two continents full of many nations and it is offensive that America would claim to be Americans in light of such diversity. Now, I have traveled the world to some extent and I have met many people in South America. In fact, I have visited Brazil on multiple occasions and you know what no one ever called themselves? American. That is right, I never once heard someone refer to themselves as American in those lands.

So I find it somewhat amusing that persons from the American continent would somehow come willingly to the United States of America and be offended that Americans — that‘s right I just said it again — call themselves, Americans.

It would be too cliche to say, "If you don‘t like Americans then you should leave," or "GTFO," as the kids text these days. While that certainly remains true, that is not the route I will chose to take. But should you GTFO, I‘ll not lose any sleep.

Emotional Resiliency

At our current pace, I am absolutely certain that the Earth will be invaded in 100 years by aliens who will conquer us not with superior technology, but with offensive words that our delicate sensibilities just can‘t handle. Don‘t get me wrong, I support the idea of teaching empathy towards others, as I teach this to my own children. But, I also teach my children to grow up and not be offended by everything they see or hear.

That‘s right, I am teaching my children to have thick skin so they are not the pansies of the planet in future generations. I am pretty sure pansy made the biased-free language list too, but I can‘t say for sure.

What are we teaching the world when the burden to not be offended is on the other people rather than our own ability to cope? What does it say about a society that can‘t handle the term American in America? If I should say something that genuinely offends someone, I will often apologize. However, if that word was American then I will tell you to go play hopscotch or something because you are a freaking child and your mommy and daddy must have done some pretty piss-poor parenting because they raised a baby. Too strong?

Well, after all, this is America and I am an American.

I don‘t care if you call yourself an American if you are from Brazil, Mexico, or Argentina. I have the age appropriate cognitive ability to understand what you really mean and the emotional resiliency to cope with it.

So to the students of the University of New Hampshire, I just have this to say: Toughen up children, and keep reading my articles. Because if you can survive the words I will regularly say to you, then you just might make it in this world. In fact, when it comes to emotional resiliency, with my help, you just might be the best. Oh, and by the way, American.