When Time magazine announced its "short list" for Person of the Year on NBC News Tuesday, the term "Undocumented American" projected a political agenda more blatant (and effective) than anything witnessed on MSNBC's prime time shows.
The legal term for those who live and work in our country illegally is "Illegal Alien," but that term has been stricken from polite conversation, as it is seen as politically incorrect hate speech meant to demonize minorities. Never mind that the term is purely descriptive and is completely free of racial or ethnic overtones (a white Canadian can easily be an illegal alien), the word police have deemed it off limits and, therefore, it shall not be used in the media.
However, the term "Undocumented American" is so insidiously deceitful in its not-so-subtle attempt to push a political position, it's almost admirable Time was so shameless in using it. Break the term down: Undocumented American. It conveys that the person described is an American, even if they hold a passport for Russia or China or Albania. It conveys that they are merely lacking a document. And, what is a "document" anyway? It could be a word processing document. Or a letter from the DMV. Just a bureaucratic missive, some technicality standing in the way of this American being considered just as fully American as you or I.
But the point is, they are American, document or not. They may have just arrived last week, after living their entire life in Yemen. And they lied to obtain a student visa and they are actually here for purposes other than getting a degree in veterinary sciences, so they don't have the correct documents, but just shut up about it, they are American... just an Undocumented American.
Of course, the politicization of Time's POY should not come as a shock. Last year's selection of "The Protester" was designed to lump the Arab Spring and Occupy Movement into one righteous political cause. Within weeks of the selection, Occupy was exposed as a lawless entity rife with sexual assault perps (and victims), buoyed by tons of Big Labor donations. And we now see the Arab Spring manifest in an Islamist quasi-totalitarian government in Egypt and terrorist attacks against the US Ambassador in Libya.
As the Person of the Year rolls out this week, look for the heavy-handed political agenda on full display as the midtown-Manhattan editorial board enjoys lecturing the rest of America about whom we should and should not care about, and what we should be calling them.
Language. It's all we have.