In the 26 years since I tossed my tasseled cap into the air along with hundreds of other proud graduates of Princeton University, I have never felt as ashamed of my revered Ivy League alma mater as I did this past month. In a move that seems almost to have been designed to tarnish the vaunted institution's reputation, the school's Office of Human Resources issued a document entitled "Guidelines for Using Gender Inclusive Language" that quickly became a running joke, as well as a starkly sad commentary on the state of American liberalism.
Simply put, the four-page memo seeks to censor the use of "gendered pronouns" such as "he," "him" or "his," and even dictates doing away with so-called male-leaning words and dropping terms such as "mankind" and "manmade."
Welcome to Princeton University's "man ban"! Though ostensibly aimed at promoting greater tolerance, the policy is in fact an act of narrow-mindedness, representing a puerile attempt to pillage the English language and blur the Judeo-Christian values that underlie Western civilization. Some refer to it as "political correctness," but I think a more appropriate term is "pitiful silliness."
"Gender-inclusive," the Princeton document states, "is writing and speaking about people in a manner that does not use gender-based words." And then it offers the following gem: "Gender binary is the traditional view on human gender, which does not take into consideration individuals who identify as otherwise, including and not limited to transgender, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, and/or intersex."
Hence, says Princeton, terms such as "man and wife" or even "forefathers" should no longer be used, lest anyone be offended, even though these are linguistic constructs that are as old as humanity itself.
Indeed, just go back to the sixth day of creation, as described in Genesis (1:27): "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
It is a good thing that the Creator didn't choose to seek the approval of the Princeton University human resources team before giving the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Who knows what they might have wanted to do to the sacred text.
I don't mean to sound like a middle-aged nostalgic alumnus, but this is just not the Princeton that I remember.
The soaring Gothic architecture and ivy-coated buildings that I lived among for four incredible years housed a vibrant educational and intellectual landscape, one that was bound by decency (except for some memorable parties) yet also open to grappling with ideas rather than shunning them.
Founded back in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, Princeton has produced two American presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, a chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, an astronaut who walked on the moon, a starting pitcher for Major League Baseball and even a member of the NBA Hall of Fame.
Men such as James Madison, one of the fathers of the US Constitution, graced its halls, as did author F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cold War diplomat George Kennan and a long line of esteemed Nobel Prize winners.
But instead of making headlines for advances in science or breakthroughs in our understanding of history, Princeton is now garnering media attention for waging an assault on language and common sense.
It has allied itself with the worst kind of social engineers, those who try to decree what we can and cannot say, as if freedom of speech and thought have lost all meaning.
But this is not merely a matter of semantics. In truth, it conceals a far more sinister agenda, one that wishes to tear down the ethical underpinnings of the West, reshaping morality to fit the latest fad.
As George Orwell wrote in his 1946 classic, Politics and the English Language, the manipulation of words has a profound effect on society, subtly shifting how people view and perceive things. "Political language, and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists," Orwell said, "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
Make no mistake: those seeking to ban the use of the word "man" are attempting to muddle and obscure the traditional view of gender and sexuality, and to ostracize anyone who dares to stand in their way. Soon enough, they will label anyone who employs words such as "man" an extremist or bigot, thereby resorting to the very sort of intolerance they claim to abhor.
So at the risk of arousing the ire of my Princeton mentors, I will state this as adamantly as I can: those who seek to engage in thought-control and suppress words threaten far more than the language we use.
They endanger the moral values at the heart of our collective heritage and the very principles upon which society and academia itself are founded.
Whether they like it or not, a "man" is a man, and no amount of bluster or bullying can ever change that.