Calling things by their proper names is fundamental to being able to correctly deal with them. Euphemisms allow unpleasant realities to be avoided. The law and the administration of justice require accurate terminology. China’s history is replete with cycles of dynastic decline, and the recipe for reform was always, in the end, what Confucius called ”the rectification of names.”
Confucianism believes in social harmony that is achieved through stable relationships. To achieve stable relationships rectification of names is essential. Rectification of names simply refers to designating names appropriately and matching these names to responsibilities or actions such that a particular name has a set of responsibilities attached to ensure there is no confusion between the names or the responsibilities allocated to each. This generally provides the appropriate channels and form of interaction between different relationships towards the aim of fostering social order.
Illustration of Confucius from and edition The Analects, via Flickr
Although Jeff Sessions probably does not think of himself as a Confucian scholar, he clearly understands this bit of wisdom from the Great Sage, as CNN reports:
The Justice Department has instructed US attorneys offices not to use the term “undocumented” immigrants and instead refer to someone illegally in the US as “an illegal alien,” according to a copy of an agency-wide email obtained by CNN.
According to the email, the Justice Department uses terms in the US Code to describe an individual who is illegally in the US, and thus refers to them as “an illegal alien.”
“The word ‘undocumented’ is not based in US code and should not be used to describe someone’s illegal presence in the country,” the email states.
An immigrant who is in the US legally or whose status is unknown is to be described by their country of citizenship, it adds.
Somehow, I expect that instead of celebrating diversity in following the ancient wisdom of Confucius (not a dead white male), we will see the progressive media explode with rage.