Working with library staff at the Ivy League school, members of a Dartmouth coalition for immigration reform petitioned the Library of Congress in 2014 to replace the subject heading with a more accurate and less offensive term.
Officials concluded that the meaning of “aliens” is often misunderstood and should be replaced with “noncitizens,” and that the phrase “illegal aliens” has become pejorative. The heading “illegal aliens” is being replaced by “noncitizens” and “unauthorized immigration.”
“The heading Aliens is one of the oldest headings in Library of Congress Subject Headings, having appeared in the first edition of Subject Headings Used in the Dictionary Catalogues of the Library of Congress (published in parts between 1910 and 1914), the precursor to today’s LCSH. According to the current scope note for the heading, it refers to “persons who are not citizens of the country in which they reside.” The heading has been somewhat problematic over time because the word aliens has several dictionary definitions, one of which corresponds to the LCSH scope note and another that means beings from another planet. Because of the resulting confusion, PSD decided that it would be useful to reconsider the heading Aliens during its reconsideration of Illegal aliens.”
Even the dumbest, most illiterate liquid petroleum flow engineer of a gas pump jockey, even a Dartmouth student – but then, I repeat myself – can distinguish between a drug-carrying peasant creeping through the Arizona desert, still dripping Rio Grande water, and a visitor from Mars who lacks a tourist visa. And even the government employees at the Library of Congress know this, so their specious argument that eliminating the term will eliminate confusion is just insulting, and deliberately so.
As for the offending term illegal alien being “pejorative”, “illegal” is pejorative: it expresses disapproval, just as the dictionary says. And while it is true that the Obama administration and this country’s liberals no longer disapprove of Mexicans and their cousins breaking the law and entering this country to stay, that act is still forbidden and still on the books as an illegal act. The Library’s New Speak is clearly intended to help along the process of legalizing border crossing, but to lump illegals in with others in the category of “noncitizen”: green card and visa holders, permanent residents, and tourists alike, stamps the criminals with the imprimatur of official state approval, long before Congress itself has conceded defeat.
It’s also confusing, which is probably also deliberate.
If we can’t hang’em high, can we at least descend on Washington with tar and feathers?