Moves by officials in the EU and U.K. to cleanse the insufficiently inclusive term “Christmas” from holiday season nomenclature are meeting resistance amid signs that authorities may be backtracking from a sweeping top-down campaign to weed out speech rooted in traditional Western usage that could be construed as insensitive to minorities.
In the European Union, an internal document by EU Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, first reported on by Italian daily Il Giornale, recommends that expressions that are offensive to minorities or “aren’t inclusive enough” — including “Christmas” — shouldn’t be used ahead of the Christmas season.
Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package refers to mothers as both “pregnant” and “lactating” individuals on 11 separate occasions.
Though the spending package specifically mentions the word “mother” three times and the word “maternal” 50 times, the spending bill avoids gendered language and refers to “pregnant, lactating, and postpartum individuals” on 11 other occasions when discussing maternal health conditions or concerns.
You wouldn’t think any possible controversy could append itself to that day, except that we are living in preternaturally contentious times. Two days ago, Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from St. Louis, was testifying about racial disparities in health care, focusing specifically on childbirth. While describing her own medical experiences, Bush used the unwieldy phrase “birthing people” instead of “mothers.” Apparently, this was an awkward attempt to use inclusive language.
Predictably, this rhetorical gambit earned her a fair amount of ridicule on social media. I’m sure Rep. Bush has many virtues, but neither self-awareness nor self-deprecating humor are at the top of that list. Just as predictably, Bush lashed out at those who mocked her wording for their “racism and transphobia.” She also accused her critics of trivializing an important subject, which was a more substantive rejoinder. Bush was discussing racial disparities in America’s medical system, which is no laughing matter, and invoking her own harrowing experiences in hospital delivery rooms to do it.
Yet breezily trying to replace the word “mothers” as a sign of wokeness a few days before Mother’s Day wasn’t likely to go down well. It was Cori Bush’s own peculiar choice of words that distracted listeners from her story.