The invocation to prayer in the new religion - or ancient superstition - goes like this: 'words have power.' What that means is that you ought to be silenced, or, you answer to us for what you say. I'd call it voodoo, but that's unfair to voodoo. It asserts that words are supernatural weapons that can be wielded to commit assault at a distance. It asserts that I can reach out and 'literally' commit violence against whole groups of people and the individuals in them (if we can indeed distinguish any individuals in them), by sitting here in York Springs typing. While I do appreciate the supernatural powers you are attributing to me, I am not actually a witch, and I can't actually harm you with incantations, spells, or writing a word of power on a piece of paper and folding it up just so. You think you can control reality as a whole by silencing people; and you're gearing up to impose your superstition by an authoritarian regime. You have already verbally cleansed America's colleges, which at this point are the merest re-education camps. Simulated unanimity and continual self-censorship, produced under massive social pressure and by policy, are incompatible with education in a free society, obviously. I don't think you are any more democratic, rational, or decent than Trump, and I'm beginning to wonder where I can go to escape you both. I don't think you're doing anything substantive for social justice, just trying to achieve the impression or illusion of it. I do think you should turn your attention to the math department and work on suppressing oppressive numbers.
It would be hard to deny that numbers have power, if abstract things like words can have power. It would be hard to argue that, if words are the sort of thing that could oppress people, numbers are not. Indeed, you are being oppressed by numbers right now, even as we reduce your ass to statistics and your personality to your membership in some demographic segment. You're oppressed by your SAT score, by the balance in your bank account, by the numbers on the bills in your mailbox. You might want to think about the historical role of numbers in racism, for example: all those ledgers and bills of sale. And what if i call you a 0, or put a minus sign before the name of your group? We are very oppressed by our divisions, which are multiplying. Delete these things from public space and your personal idiolect. Do it now. You're also being oppressed by fictional characters, mythological beings, sense impressions, logical entailments, Platonic Forms, and by the very concept of injustice, which should, along with the word 'injustice,' be ruthlessly suppressed. Anyway, of course, many actual numbers have been regarded as taboo or have been suppressed: that is, some numbers have been and are really offensive in the same sense as many words. So do to the number-line what you're trying to do to the language and delete delete delete!
To be fair, you also do want to ban, with regard to members of certain groups, particular hairstyles, hats, shoes, accents, musical styles, and so on (for example, because of 'cultural appropriation'). So it's not just words, but all kinds of signs and symbols and identities and expressions and arts. You want control of public space and people's self-presentations and expressions within that space. You demand control of my body in more or less every respect; you want to operate me like a marionette. You demand micro-control of my body to address possible micro-aggressions that could emerge from it. You want to rearrange my legs because i'm manspreading or whatever it may be. That's your cure for oppression, yes? That is the liberation you offer.
I have some news to break to you. We are not the stories we tell. This world is not a narrative. We did not construct this universe or ourselves or one another by weaving a tapestry of words. We do yap ceaselessly, but it usually amounts to next to nothing. We cannot make a new world by re-narrating or getting control of the signs; we can only make a collective delusion, and not even that, because the thing is too flimsy to delude. Words have power indeed in this account: the power to create worlds! a power not even Odin or Zeus could claim. Wait remind me how you reached this conclusion? because I never could quite figure that out even when I heard Richard Rorty do the schtick.
My view is that racism became unconscious when white people started thinking that racism was a matter of what words we use. We ditched all the bad words, and were innocent, and the structural racism of the country just went right on, or even intensified. You have got to learn from that, alright? Making people talk in some prescribed way just makes reality and representation, the real deal and the narrative, come apart completely. That is what you are demanding.
Remember when you were going to ban fake news? It was right-wing propaganda that was destroying our very concept of truth, blahblahblah. It took 30 seconds for 'fake news' to be appropriated by the right. Your enemy took your gun and pistol-whipped you with it. In general, all the mechanisms of social control, formal and informal, that you are instituting and want to institute can be reversed on you suddenly, and make you an enemy of the people, a traitor, etc. Your goals are different than your opponents'; your procedures the same. They will be visited upon you.
You might think that all this continues the beautiful legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr, of James Baldwin, of Malcolm X, of Ralph Ellison, of Zora Neale Hurston, of Richard Wright, of W.E.B. Dubois, of Fannie Lou Hamer, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells. Now I have a challenge for you: show me where any of these people advocated speech repression as a way to address racism. This is new, y'all: a distortion, a falsification, a disaster in which the oppressed seek to become oppressors, imitate their oppressors. This is where these movements turned from the physical reality of oppression to the symbolic reality of symbolic oppression, which can be addressed only by oppression.