By Joe Rector

The world faces continuing problems: assaults by extremists groups who seek to destroy anything or anyone that opposes them, threats of war from countries with chips on their shoulders, and natural disasters that leave millions homeless and helpless. With all that goes on each day, it’s hard to believe the petty, ridiculous things on which individuals waste time and energy.

On television, I recently viewed a commercial for vitamins. I believe in taking them daily, no matter what the newest studies say. What made me roll my eyes is the fact that now adults have gummy vitamins. Our adult population has become a bunch of wimps, so much so that now many have to have a “taste good” product. What’s the big deal with having to swallow a pill? Okay, some individuals have throat problems that keep them from taking a tablet, but most of us can half-chew and then swallow most anything we want. Is it that important to the world to have a chewy vitamin that takes young adults back to their childhood?

In the last week, one big news story concerned illegal immigrants. Many people took offense to the term “anchor baby.” In fact, calls for apologies for the use of the term came swiftly and loudly. What’s the big deal? The definition of anchor baby is, “a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country who has birthright citizenship, especially when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.”

Too many times, the noncitizen is someone who has illegally crossed the border into this country. The fact that plenty of individuals actually cross over so that their newborn is a citizen of this country is well documented. Even rich people from other countries fly pregnant women to the US to have their babies so that they can have citizenship.

If that does occur, then isn’t that newborn child, in fact, becoming an “anchor baby?” It would seem that being born here and automatically becoming a citizen serves as an “anchor” for the entire family of “noncitizens.” Perhaps eliminating automatic citizenship of babies born to noncitizens would end the term and also clear up many of the problems with illegal immigration.

The most absurd thing to come around of late has its origins here in Knoxville. The Office of Diversity at the University of Tennessee has encouraged students, staff, and faculty to begin the use of gender-neutral pronouns. New pronouns for “he, she, and they” would be “xe, xem, and xyr.” Heaven forbid that we offend or fail to recognize any minority group that raises hell about being excluded. Here’s a news flash: most folks don’t correctly use the pronouns that we now have (“THEM boys sure have a good team!”)  I, for one, never plan to use these absurd words so that some group feels better about themselves. We have masculine and feminine pronouns in our language. No matter how some might protest that they are gender neutral, the fact remains that they are one sex or the other. If they choose to change that designation, I say fine. However, don’t expect me to screw up an already difficult language to make them feel better.

This country faces many obstacles. Murders in major urban areas continue to increase each year; distrust between minorities and police fuels riots and violence; politicians are more interested in solidifying power than in working together to find solutions to problems. Those are things on which all of us should focus our attention. That includes those at universities that allow even a second of consideration for such trivial subjects as new pronouns.

“Xe, xem, xy”—SERIOUSLY?