Stop Using the ‘W-Word’

Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN, April 2, 2013

In a recent interview on Ketchikan Public Radio in Alaska, Rep. Don Young, the state’s only congressman, offered this unhelpful tidbit:

“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wet—- to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine.”

There it is–the equivalent of what Groucho Marx used to call “the secret word.” It’s a word that is so offensive that I won’t say or write it in the long form–although many people do so freely, which is a problem.

Just as Americans have been conditioned to refer to the “n-word” as a sanitized alternative to the filthy and hurtful long-form version, so we too should start referring to the “w-word” when describing that ethnic slur used to describe Mexican immigrants who came here, shall we say, without proper documents.

I started this crusade in April 2007 with a column for In it, I pointed out that the w-word is used with reckless abandon by right-wing cable talk show hosts but also left-wing journalists and celebrities. I couldn’t imagine these folks using the long form of the n-word even if they were merely repeating what someone else had said. Yet they did not hesitate to use the w-word.


Let’s face it. Americans are not good when it comes to condemning the loaded language of race and ethnicity. We’re not careful. We’re not consistent. And we’re not sincere. It’s part of an overall breakdown in civility in our society and how dismissive we have become of anyone who raises concern. We’re too mean, too childish, too petty and too personal.



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  • Nathanwartooth

    I’ll be holding my breath waiting for the article condemning the use of the “c” word and “h” word.

  • bigone4u

    No one with a name like Ruben Navarrette Jr. is going to control my vocabulary. Ruben buddy, respect the First Amendment or move to Mexico. If Mexico is your choice, then take a few of your comrades with you.

    • betsy

      Navarette has been writing pro-illegal articles for decades.

      • The__Bobster

        He’s VDare’s enemy #1, a real Reconquista dirtbag.

        To even more definitively pound home the reality that U.S. citizenship is of scant concern to illegal aliens, it’s pertinent to quote a recent utterance from special pleader and Professional Hispanic* Ruben Navarette:

        Illegal immigrants don’t care about citizenship nearly as much as politicians do. Their concerns are practical, not ideological. They want driver’s licenses, the freedom to go to work without living under the threat of being picked up and deported and the ability to go back and forth between the United States and their home country.

        • mobilebay

          The trouble is, Bobster, when they shuttle back and forth as you say, we’re the ones picking up the tab for their “visits”home and everything else. Mexico and the other countries who send their people for us to babysit, feel no responsibility for their people whatsoever. And you’re right about the citizenship angle. It’s only our government who wants to stand at the border and trade our most precious possession for votes from the invaders and their supporters such as the author of this article. In this, the Obama administration is very transparent. Rather than worrying about name-calling, Senor Navarette needs to urge Mexico to keep their people home by providing jobs. Mexico has never taken responsibility for their own citizens and it’s about time they woke up before Americans realize they’ve had enough and take action. From day one, I’ve believed we need our military on the border. That would immediately stop the leaks. Then demand that illegal aliens (see, Ruben, I didn’t use the “W” word) leave the same way they got here. Wouldn’t cost a dime and would satisfy the oft-repeated, “We can’t possibly deport eleven million people.” No one ever says why, but Eisenhower did it, and aren’t we the nation that went to the moon? The naysayers need to add…”because where would we get out cheap labor for those who’ll then support us?” Let’s call it a reverse invasion.

      • racist lib stink

        that liberal pos is a total white hating racist

    • Felix_M

      Is it okay, then, if we call him a cholo?

      • bigone4u

        No, don’t speak Mexican to him, just speak English and call him whatever you think appropriate. Speaking Spanish encourages them.

        • ms_anthro

          Just don’t call him “Hispanic.” Mestizo or Indian is fine, unless he’s actually a White European (Spaniard), in which case just call him a traitor and be done with it.

        • ProWhite son of Jacob

          Call them: “Cucarachas que abandonaron sus países destituídos y en la miseria, así que podrían odiar y despreciar los Anglo Sajones que han construido una Patria mejor que el terreno donde las cucarachas nacieron.”

          I think that’s probably the Politically Correct phrase to use.

  • sbuffalonative

    I didn’t use the word before. Maybe it’s time I start.

    • The__Bobster

      I do on rare occasions, but since I now find that it ticks off the squat monsters, I’ll be using it more, along with “illegal alien”.

      • Daisy

        I’m sticking to illegal as it reminds people they are in fact *illegal.*

        • NeanderthalDNA

          Guy was sloppy to say the least. Not that I care, but ol’ Senator Congressman caused himself grief – sloppy.

          • ms_anthro

            If more people were so “sloppy” then free speech wouldn’t be vanishing before our eyes. Say what you want and let them cry about it.

      • So CAL Snowman

        illegal wetbacks

  • Bill

    Not gonna do it Ruben. But thanks. I’d forgotten that descriptor and was growing weary of the longer term illegal alien. Short and sweet, that’s the ticket. Wetbacks.

  • Mr. Officious

    The cultivation of the fear of these words is equal in effect to “blasphemy” laws: this is making human beings into gods and granting them sacred status. This is dangerous fanaticism.

  • Jefferson

    Carlos Mencia refers to himself as a Wetback all of the time. Is Carlos Mencia racist against himself ?

  • brengunn

    I don’t mind people refraining from using those words and I don’t mind people using those words. What I really hate is when people quote someone else and censor the quote, like these words are so powerful they cannot even be used secondhand. That really gets my goat.

  • Eagle_Eyed

    I know far worse terms we can use Ruben. With 20+ million of you guys illegally migrating here, draining our educational and medical services, undercutting our working class, and destroying social cohesion; wetback is about as nice as we’re willing to go at this stage.

    • Felix_M

      How about leeches? Sanguijuelas if we must say it for them to understand.

  • I agree, we should not say wetback or illegal alien. THEY ARE INVADERS!

  • George White


  • MekongDelta69

    It’s a word that is so offensive that I won’t say or write it in the long form

    ALL leftists, minorities, gays, feminazis, and every ‘perpetually oppressed victim’s group’ are ALWAYS ‘oh-so-offended’ at anything and everything. These people are the most spineless people on earth. These people disgust me.

    They couldn’t have lasted 10 minutes in any schoolyard in NYC when we grew up.
    They couldn’t have lasted 10 minutes on patrol with us in Vietnam.
    They couldn’t have lasted 10 minutes in life without the Nanny State to protect these wusses.

    • Gerónimo Anónimo

      The line of people just waiting to be offended would stretch from the earth to the moon and back.

    • Anon

      If your such a bad ass and then kill every black person you see starting now. Don’t talk about it. Be about it. You’re talking about hiding but here you “white supremacists” are hiding in plain sight with the veil of subtlety . If the state doesn’t bother you and you’re so upstanding citzen to your infintely small sub culture; then do something. Let’s see: you want to exterminate us , right? Your president is black, there you go. You guys are living in a ignoramus cloud of illusion. If “whitey” kills a man of any color he is right and not savage but if a “black” man murders he is a savage animal. But the problem is that you are “savage”. A suit , a tie, a nice house, and 401k doesn’t make you a upstanding individual. You’re reaping what you sow. You brought “blacks” here for labor to build your nation after you exterminate the native americans and mexicans and took their land. You also hung any “black” person you could for trying to learn. Why? If we’re monkeys and we can’t fathom the understanding of sense. Then, why punish something for which you know can’t happen. The ironic thing is, when a black person does achieve greatness, then your rebuttal is “a monkey can learn tricks”. Would the trick be a “black” being smarter than you academically? It sounds to me that “you” are threatened. If you aren’t then why hide in a cloud of twitter accounts, why

    • vladdy1

      They wouldn’t last 10 minutes teaching in a majority-black school. Naw, never mind, they would, due to their practice of “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

  • Hugo

    Ruben, I’ll make you a deal. I won’t sat wet-back if you won’t say undocumented. From now on we will both just use the legal phrase, Ilegal Alien. Deal?

  • Daisy

    But are liberals still allowed to call whites ‘Redneck?’

    • I am a redneck though. And a hillbilly to boot.

    • bigone4u

      They do on the Huffington Post all the time. When I have the time I usually leave a reply that goes something like this: “Your use of the word “redneck” proves that you are an anti-white bigot.” Sometimes I stop there; sometimes I ream them out really good.

      • Andy

        🙂 I like seeing your comments on Huffington Post. A rare bit of sanity.

      • nobody

        Liberals always either try to take something you said out of context and put words in your mouth or deflect the statement and personally attack you. They have a million little tricks that they use during debates. They have to focus on stuff like that because they know that their crazy ideas won’t hold up to even rudimentary scrutiny. I honestly believe that 9 out of 10 liberals are genuinely mentally ill, probably still holding a grudge against their Conservative father, basically stuck in the stupid rebellious teenage phase for life. If they didn’t fill me with such disgust I would almost feel bad for them.

        • vladdy1

          Those “little tricks”…it can sometimes be helpful to say we’ve all read Allinsky now, so they can stop with the BS. And to all of you here, thanks for the “little trick” (like truth and logic) I learn here.

      • Gerónimo Anónimo

        Save your breath ! Anti-white bigot to them is a badge of honor.

        They also are living validations of Hoffman’s Theory along with MSNBC. Oh I left out Chrithy Matthews.

      • vladdy1

        Great. It’s good, too, to remind them that leftists (definitely not “liberals”) are supposed to be against stereotyping….aren’t they?
        They’te always doing it with age, too, tho’ I’m sure a lot are aging hppies (who never got the message about race like we smart ones did)….They’re always using “old” right along with “white” (and “southern” and “Christian”) as slurs.

  • Shorter “polite” society: There are no illegal alien wetbacks, only right wing extremist gun nuts who are part of the Nazi KKK.

  • NorthernWind

    I’ve actually never heard someone use the word “wetback”. It’s not being used with “reckless abandon”.

    • Plato1

      Apparently NorthernWind you have not spent much time in El Paso Tx. The Texas born Mexicans and the ones with dual citizenship commonly, openly and without the least hesitation refer to the illegals as “wetbacks”.

  • Glickstein44

    Isn’t that the proper name to call them? Once upon a time that’s what White children were taught in their early formative years of education in the hallowed halls of ivory.Those who crossed over into the U.S. from Mexico by way of the Rio Grande River were called “wetbacks.” None of the children or the teachers who taught history believed the term “wetback” was derogatory but rather aptly described what they were.

    Operation Wetback was a 1954 operation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization service to remove illegal immigrants.President Eisenhower was our President.

    • Felix_M

      They’ll always be wetback to me.

  • NM156

    Alaska has two other Congressmen, their US Senators, two of which are appropriated to each state according to the Constitution. Maybe this new generation of journalists doesn’t even know the US Constitution exists.

  • Fed Up

    I don’t give a rat’s ass what political correctness wants or says. I am WHITE and I am damned proud to be White! White people. . . that’s right. . . Our WHITE ancestors, starting in 1501 accumulated the mass of knowledge and learning to make today’s world possible for us. With only slight help from Asians and NO help from Africans — prior to 1901!

    For heavens’ sake, people. Take your children in hand. Get them to take PRIDE in their White skins, in what their White ancestors accomplished. The only way to counteract the brainwashing your children get in school — by liberal teachers, educators and later college professors, is to get through to them at as early an age as possible.

    They need to give lip-service to that slop pumped into them — BUT NOT TO BELIEVE IT! That’s where YOU and your spouse, their parents, come in!

    • ms_anthro

      Better yet, cut off the brainwashing at the primary source: homeschool.

  • dd121

    Funny, liberals don’t mind shoving the abomination of homosexuality down out throats. If we protest that it’s immoral we’re the ones they call bigots, insensitive, homophobic. The good shall be called bad and the bad called good.

    • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

      “Tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society. When an immoral society has blatantly and proudly violated all the commandments, it insists upon one last virtue, tolerance for its immorality. It will not tolerate condemnation of its perversions. It creates a whole new world in which only the intolerant critic of intolerable evil is evil.” – Hutton Gibson

      “It is not the evil itself which is horrifying about our times — it is the way we not only tolerate evil, but have made a cult of positively worshipping weakness, depravity, rottenness and evil itself.” – George Lincoln Rockwell

  • NM156

    Leftist immigration advocates attempting to turn Mexican illegals into another class of victims and appropriating the language of victimization-that’s all this is.

  • Glickstein44

    When the MSM stops reciting with glee the term “redneck” and other derogatory terms for Whites perhaps i will give it a thought not to use the non-derogatory term “wetback” in conversations about illegal mexicans who cross our border by way of a river. But we all know that’s not going to happen…When racist violent black gangsta rap artists get around to creating anti-hispanic lyrics with the same energy they do denigrating Whites then perhaps Reuben might have a ligitimate complaint.

  • PBL

    Secret word? No, secret weapon! We whites are innovators in all realms, technical, social and artistic.

  • RisingReich

    If by ‘break down of civility’ this goon means recognizing racial realities for what they are then we need more of it.

    Common theme is this clinging to ‘civility’. If you want to live and you are White – you’d better get over it soon.

  • MikeS

    “It’s part of an overall breakdown in civility in our society”

    Is this part of his standup routine? The following are true breakdowns in civility: flashmobs, gangs, knockout games, shooting children in strollers, riots, smash and grabs.

    • Felix_M

      Civility broke down a long time ago. It’s a symptom of the problems afflicting our country, not a cause.

      Plus, I think it’s downright uncivil for people to invade our country, suck off of our public services, drop a bastard anchor baby or 6 and then expect the law-abiding citizens not to be angry at the homely squat-monsters and their own “leaders” for allowing the invasion to continue unabated.

      • Gerónimo Anónimo

        Anyone who needs evidence of the breakdown of civility need do no more than to watch and episode of Jerry Springer. I’m surprised that he hadn’t been accused of racism. I guess it’s because he balances it out wiht displays of White slime as well.

  • kjh64

    Well, I’ll tell you what, when Mexicans stop using the G-word (gringo) and other non-Whites stop using anti-White slurs, then Whites can watch what they say.

    • Felix_M

      I kind of like the word lameculos from lamer to lick…and, well, you figure out the rest.

  • Who cares if the term ‘wetback’ was used? That term adequately and accurately describes ILLEGAL mexicans….

    Liberals HATE facts and the truth….

    I will STILL consider ILLEGALS as WETBACKS–nothing ANYONE can do to prevent me from using those terms….

  • Bobbala

    It’s a good thing we have still constitutionally protect freedom of approved speech in this country.

  • MAJ

    Something has to happen to change the direction, What little filters through is giving you the wrong impression, It’s a sorry state I say to myself.

    What are words for when no one listens anymore.

    What are words for when no one listens – it’s no use talking at all.

    – Missing Persons

    How can a word be so damaging to someone? It’s as if they cannot even hear it. Why? The newly banned “w” word is the latest in illegal (oh, I can’t use that word either, can I?) words courtesy of the Thought Police.

    Of course, nothing the trumps the all-powerful “n” word. I got to thinking, why is that? Perhaps it’s because it simply states the truth. Nearly all Whites, even the self-hating liberal pandering cowards, immediately associate blacks in 2013 with a rather specific mental impression and picture – and it isn’t pretty. The impression – inarguably true – comes from repeated examples of the horrific nature of blacks in America and are, sadly, on display daily thanks to the internet, forced school and workplace integration, even reporting from the MSM that can no longer hide it, among many others.

    This mental impression – one of incivility, crime, stupidity, and waste (to name a few) which is bringing down American society – can be summed up in one word. That word begins with the letter “n.” The word is not actually a slur. It goes deeper than that. It is a way to describe what blacks are as Whites understand their behavior (or lack thereof) as well as their place/role in the nation. The word is feared because it speaks the TRUTH. So it is banned to keep people from speaking the TRUTH.

    When you read about a baby shot in the face, flash mobs, assault, women with 6 children from five different fathers who cry for more welfare because the baby-daddies are long-gone or are in prison, out of control gunfights, crowds demanding more government benefits for doing nothing, rampant corruption of school officials and elected officers, high school graduates who cannot read, a once nice neighborhood reduced to crack houses, a generation of characters screaming “racism” to cover up for failures, and on and on, you can basically sum that up with one word. But you can’t say it – or even think it – because it might open your eyes.

    • ms_anthro

      I say it and write it on a regular basis, in mixed company. It has a talismanic power over people and using it is like throwing cold water in their dull brainwashed faces. It wakes them up and makes them think.

      Use whatever words you want. Speech is only as controlled as we allow it to be. Say it loud, say it proud. Only kindergarten teachers and people with the mentality of small children allow themselves to be humiliated with terms like “the N-word.” I am a grown woman and I will use whatever word I please, whenever I please. I censor my language for no one. In fact the power of the word is what makes it so very useful in certain situations. The taboo factor makes it worth using.

  • MBlanc46

    Jeez, if Ruben doesn’t like “w-tb-ck”, I can think of several other words to refer to our South-of-the-Border neighbors. “S—” and “g———” come immediately to mind. I won’t give the full versions, as the Mod might deem them inappropriate.

  • Morris LeChat

    Oh, are they talking about the term “WETBACK”, a simply objective term to describe a person who swims a river to cross a border illegally?

  • LHathaway

    These same folks use the word ‘redneck’, a racial slur who’s nearest corollary is the ‘n’ word, they use this racial slur to Prove to everyone else how enlightened they are. There won’t be any important ‘discussions’ of That anytime soon on daytime TV.

  • Realist

    Liberalism reductio ad absurdum:

    Thou shalt not take the black man’s name in vain.

    But God’s name (if you believe in God)? that’s fine!

  • Sherman_McCoy

    The comments over at the original site are pretty good. Anybody else going to join me?

  • IKantunderstand

    Let’s see, Ruben, Americans have been “conditioned” to not use ni&&er? You mean like Pavlov’s dogs? Or, Skinner’s rats? Uh, huh. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, public discourse is one thing, but what is said privately, well that’s a horse of another color, so to speak. That whole negative reinforcement gambit? Ain’t working.I know you wetbacks aren’t that bright, but how is “n-word” a shorter version? Amigo, both versions require two syllables for pronunciation. You do know what a syllable is, right? Oh, and if you include your adorable little hyphen? The number of characters to spell each is mathematically equal. Arithmetico! This country will be sooo much better after you geniuses take over. By the way, good luck with that. Woof.

  • Felix_M

    Okay, folks, stop saying “wetbacks.” Start saying mojados, instead.

  • Eric Shun

    I haven’t heard the term, “wet back” in over ten years.

  • Hunter Morrow

    Can I say the S word? It starts with “S” and ends with “pick the lettuce and welfare checks in your own country!”

    Spicks. See, I added a K. This should be added to the AP Style Guide.

  • TheAntidote

    The word is wetback. It was a part of my vocabulary but I stopped using it only because no one of the younger generation knew what I was talking about. They use the term “undocumented immigrant.” Among themselves don’t the greasers and spics use the word “brasero”—-very similar to wetback.

    • TeutonicKnight67

      There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with “wetback”. It is a perfectly fine English word and simply descriptive in nature, just like the word “redneck”.

  • While I don’t like political correctness, it’s generally not good to use these kinds of words AT LEAST IN PUBLIC DISCOURSE, especially if you’re a politician.

    Now, I don’t think this politician was trying to be offensive. In his youth, maybe people around him used the word casually with harmful intent. But ‘wetback’ always had a negative connotation, and it can reflect even on Hispanics who came here legally or had lived here for centuries.

    That said, this controversy seems overblown since ‘redneck’ and ‘cracker’ are still used by respectable public figures.

    • jeffaral

      Wetback is a funny word: Use it as often as you can.

      • Michael_C_Scott

        I call them “greasers”; they’ve called me “gringo” to my face, so this seems reasonable.

  • White Trash

    Sure… The “W” word is “white trash”.. Use it in every sentence. America and Europe are so full of white trash that they need millions of industrious brown and black immigrants to work just to keep their white trash-run economy humming smoothly… True story…

  • FourFooted_Messiah

    Whether you use the long spelling or the short form, they both mean the same thing in the end.

  • vladdy1

    Please join me in pressuring commenters across the net to “abbreviate” a particular word we all know so that as time goes on, it will always be spelled “cr*****”” or pronounced as “the cr word” (or the c word). There is no reason for special rules for certain people, unless we are already officially dhimmis in our own country, as this is the way non-muslims are forced to restrict their speech in muslim countries. (My other campaign is to urge people to stop giving those cronies of Obama (hey, my spellcheck just capitalized Obama — Twice! WTF?)…Anyway…stop giving publicity to “those guys” by saying “Google it” as a short cut or cute way to say “look it up” or “research it.”)