The Corner

The Hyphenation Game . . .

. . . or, Clunkification. In a column last week, I offered a tidbit or two on a conversation with Thomas Sowell. Here is one paragraph:

Somehow, the term “African-American” comes up. And Sowell is one to say “black.” I ask him what he thinks of “African-American.” He notes that the average black family has probably been here longer than the average white family. Of all Americans to be hyphenated, so late in the game! And who would say “European-American,” such a clunky phrase? Sowell further notes that black Americans typically have less connection to their ancestry than white Americans.

Okay, check out a letter from a college student:

Mr. Nordlinger,

You asked, “And who would say ‘European-American,’ such a clunky phrase?” You may be saddened to learn that this phrase is used throughout my Juvenile Delinquency and Criminology textbooks. I am a senior at a university in Texas and most of our criminal-justice textbooks refer to white people as “European-Americans.”

Being more outspoken than perhaps is prudent, I asked my professor about the label the first time I read it. His response was a shrug and a short statement about not wanting to offend anyone. Maybe I am too young, but is that not a ridiculous notion? What white person living in America would be offended if he were referred to as “white”? I have never heard even my far-Left friends talk about such a thing.

Just thought I would let you know.

Screwy world, screwy country — not least racially. And how about that phrase “Being more outspoken than perhaps is prudent”? Kind of sad, isn’t it?


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