On reading Jennifer Graham’s article “They’re ‘incarcerated persons,’ not inmates, and you’re the bad guy if you don’t agree,” a few thoughts came to mind. Her point about “incarcerated persons” being an unnecessary change from “inmate” is well-argued. I concede her point.
However, including the phrase “and you’re the bad guy if you don’t agree,” as well as referencing Ron DeSantis’ favorite phrase “woke ideology,” indicates the article’s parentage in Trumpian culture wars.
The word “woke” means to be aware; aware specifically of history, and how certain groups have been harmed and treated unfairly. Awareness of injustice is not a dangerous or unpatriotic thing. To the contrary, it has deep roots in American history all the way back to the Revolution.
To treat awareness of injustice as not only un-American but even anti-American is wrong. By locating this awareness on the left, it does a disservice to the many conservatives who have rallied against injustice. It also creates division where none need exist. Graham cites multiple examples of liberal-generated changes in language (ending the use of “mentally retarded” and “fireman,” for example) which are broadly accepted today.
These examples show how being aware of injustice is not particular to either conservative or liberal. It also shows how ideas germinating on either left or right can take root more broadly. Graham, however, focuses on some absurd examples such as the (supposed) campaign to eradicate terms like “Mom” and “Dad.”
My kids call me “Dad.” And no, I don’t think Graham is “the bad guy” for using the term “inmate.” Real liberals are comfortable with debate.
Eagle Mountain, Utah