AP TO REPORTERS: NO ONE IS 'ILLEGAL' When the Applied Research Center (ARC), a racial justice think tank, started its Drop the I-Word campaign in 2010 to persuade people and the press to stop using the words "illegal immigrant," eye-rolling critics said the term was correct, or it was just semantics, or it mattered less than policy, or, simply, that it couldn't be changed. But it mattered hugely to many immigrants, reporters and friends. The stakes were high: winning meant we'd loosen up the immigration policy debate to include questions of family, survival, race and national identity—the things Americans pretend to ignore when immigration is framed only as a matter of law and order.
On April 2, the campaign celebrated a major victory when the Associated Press announced that it would no longer condone the use of the term. It was the result of years of hard work by many. At ARC, we took up a threefold strategy: one, to raise the voices of people who live under the shadow of those words; two, to generate more debate in journalism circles; and three, to ensure that news outlets hear from as many people (and as far across the political spectrum) as possible.
These tactics solidified enough of a base that when reporter Jose Antonio Vargas, who revealed his undocumented status in June 2011, challenged fellow journalists to stop using the word "illegal" last year, he landed on a playing field where the goalie was already overwhelmed by the size of our team.
Now is the time to build more momentum. Americans should ask their local newspapers to align their policies with the AP and press larger outlets like The New York Times to change their style guides, too. Dropping the I-word will enable a better immigration policy debate, and it will ease the integration of immigrants into our cities and towns.RINKU SEN
WINNING IMAGE: Congratulations to Nation illustrator Steve Brodner, whose work has been selected for American Illustration's annual book, the country's most prestigious collection of illustrations. Brodner's winning image, depicting Bill Clinton dancing with a donkey in a blue dress, appeared on Brodner's live art blog on TheNation.com covering the Democratic convention. It was drawn by Brodner in pencil and colored in Photoshop by Lisa Reist. "We worked hard at something totally strange and new," Brodner explains. Kudos! THE EDITORS
HAGEL'S BAD BUDGET RHETORIC: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's speech at the National Defense University on April 3 left a lot to be desired. Hagel was supposed to discuss "the challenges posed by a changing strategic landscape and new budget constraints," as well as "the opportunities that exist to fundamentally reshape the defense enterprise to better reflect 21st century realities."
Neither Robert Gates nor Leon Panetta, Hagel's predecessors, would have seen budget constraints as an "opportunity." Both warned incessantly that budget cuts at the Pentagon would be a catastrophe. On that score at least, Hagel's speech was less alarmist and more realist.