What’s going on: The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) “inclusive” language guidelines, published in 2021, have been circulating the press this past week. As a government agency tasked with advancing technological competition and innovation in the U.S., the NIST’s guidelines have sparked criticisms about how the federal government puts more focus on progressive policies than American interests.
Language restrictions: The guidelines advise staff to avoid racial or gendered statements like “blacklist/whitelist” and “male/female connectors.” It also tells them to “avoid terms such as master/slave that perpetuate negative stereotypes or unequal power relationships” and “avoid identifying an individual’s gender unless necessary for comprehension.”
Politics in institutions: Over the last decade, federal agencies have become more politicized, playing into leftist ideologies regarding diversity and inclusion. The Pentagon, for example, has invested in programs incorporating gender ideology and critical race theory into training and policies while consistently failing audits and facing potential shortcomings in its defense production capacity. The Department of Defense received similar criticisms for its recruitment policies.
Zoom out: With the Russia-Ukraine war raging, tensions between Taiwan and China rising, and China gaining more influence in the Middle East and Africa, critics of progressive language guidelines like those of the NIST argue that the government’s priorities are off. Federal agencies should be focusing on advancing technology and protecting American interests, not using taxpayer money to regulate speech.