Earlier this year, Stanford University shelved its Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) in response to public scrutiny and faculty pressure. Professor Russell A. Berman said the initiative, which attempted to suppress the use of commonsense terms such as "American," "ladies," and "white paper," was a "catastrophe for the university."
Stanford has apparently not yet fully absorbed that lesson, as it still maintains an internal "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) Content Style Guide" that is "intended to serve as a resource for campus communicators."
The guide states that "it is not intended to constrain the academic freedom or free speech rights of members of the Stanford community," but it takes positions on topics that remain matters of public and academic controversy, and it is part of the university’s official "Identity Guide."
The entry for "gender, gender identity" says that "Not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender, according to leading medical organizations, so avoid using both sexes, either sex, or opposite sexes to encompass all people." Colin Wright, an evolutionary biologist, maintains that sex is binary, as do many other scientists and doctors. Should a university communications office be canonizing beliefs that may well be pseudoscientific?
The DEIB guide also claims that "Islamophobia" "encompasses the belief that Western and Eastern civilizations have irreconcilable differences in political, economic, and social beliefs." Is no one at Stanford allowed to agree with the ideas of political scientists Samuel Huntington, Bernard Lewis, or even the politically liberal Sam Harris?
The willingness to decide these controversies by assertion is fundamentally at odds with the nature of a university, which should provide a forum for the free pursuit of truth. This guide demonstrates that the bureaucrats at Stanford still do not understand the purpose of the institution for which they work.
It also reveals the depth of their desire to colonize people’s minds.
Like the EHLI, some of the entries prohibit words that Americans use regularly. Under the phrase "extended family," it dictates, "Use family. Extended family is usually meant to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but for many cultures this isn’t an extended family – it’s family."
Other entries amount to progressive imperialism. The guide says that "Latinx" is "increasingly used ... to refer to people of Latin American cultural or ethnic identity," even though surveys show that most Hispanic and Latino Americans neither use nor like this term.
Inclusive language guides like this one have swept through American colleges and universities as progressive activists seek to advance their views without debate or even acknowledging disagreement. They often advance the most faddish progressive ideas, such as the brand of anti-racism promoted by people like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi.
A glossary produced by Harvard University’s Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging includes an entry that defines "non-racist" as a "non-term" before going on to define it as a term "created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism." It adds, "Responsibility for perpetuating and legitimizing a racist system rests both on those who actively maintain it, and on those who refuse to challenge it." The chilling conclusion: "Silence is consent." This is Kendi-ism at its worst, and it is unworthy of America’s oldest institution of higher learning.
Many inclusive language guides note in eerily similar language, as Stanford’s does, that "Language is dynamic and continually changing and our goal is to periodically update this document." Of course, it is true that language is dynamic, but progressive language requirements change so rapidly that even well-meaning progressives cannot keep up.
Unlike the Newspeak of George Orwell’s "1984," which constricted language to control thought, progressives seek power over the minds of others by inventing neologisms, changing definitions, and introducing new prohibitions at a dizzying pace. Political scientists might recall the "permanent instability" that Hannah Arendt found at the heart of totalitarianism.