Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Joe Biden Proves He's Out Of Touch By Using Term "Orient"

The man that's a fishbone in the gullet or an errant golf ball away from the presidency of the most powerful country in the world has continued his career of verbal gaffes by referring to the area of the world between the Black Sea and the International Date Line as the "Orient".

This is unacceptable vocabulary because? The word itself comes from Latin and means "East", it doesn't refer to people. It doesn't have a racial, ethnic or religious component. In this article that describes the simple VP's verbal transgression the statement is made that "The terms “orient” and “oriental” are considered widely outdated and offensive to Asians." What determines when a word is "outdated"? How could it be offensive to Asians? What about the term "Asians", itself? Have we taken a poll of people with origins in the land mass east of Europe to see if they're satisfied with that word? Maybe it's offensive as well. In Minnesota it's now verboten to refer to an invasive fish species as an "Asian carp" because that somehow offends the Orientals.

Verbal denigration of "the other" has been a feature of human communication probably since humans moved on from monosyllabic grunts. In the case of the US, there's never been a shortage of derogatory nomenclature for those lower on the social totem pole, although some are more disrespectful than others. The use of mick, kike, wop, polack, greaser, spic, slopehead, gook and other terms has fallen into disfavor except in situations where the individuals to which they refer are not present or some secret agent of the thought police might be near. But there isn't a correspondence between these nasty expletives and a geographic term like "Orient". I hadn't considered it but perhaps the company advertised as "Northwest Orient Airlines" beginning in 1949 failed to change its name quickly enough by not dumping the "Orient" until after its merger with Republic Airways in 1986. In fact, the airline doesn't exist in that form any longer, having been absorbed by Delta. Delta was never known as "Cracker" Airlines or "Redneck" Airways, despite generally buzzing around the Atlanta area.

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