The Trump Administration’s Version of ‘Political Correctness’

As a reminder of something we heard a lot from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, take a look at this ad:

One of the ways that this president appealed to nostalgia voters who are rooted in the politics of resentment was to eschew “political correctness.” He was hailed in certain quarters for the idea that, unlike other politicians, he gave the American public straight talk.

Who knew that, once Trump became president, his administration would identify certain words that veer so much from the party line, they’d need to be banned from public documents?

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

Of course, the repercussions from this kind of language control at an organization like CDC are alarming and dangerous. But what happened to the straight-talking politically incorrect guy? Do they think Americans are such snowflakes that we need to be protected from the kinds of ideas that stem from the use of certain words?

Most of us have known for a long time now that when Republicans talk about political correctness, it is just code for “don’t stop me from expressing my racism, sexism, or xenophobia. The fact that this administration is now banning certain words is a perfect example of that truth.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.