From the people who gave us ze and other pronoun replacements comes the latest edict. Henceforth, thou shalt not capitalize.
As NewsBusters notes, the memorably named Linda Many Guns, who recently became associate vice-president of Indigenization and Decolonization at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada, released a statement affirming that capital letters are a form of oppression. The entire memo is in lower case except for the word indigenous, which is capitalized for obvious(?) reasons.
“the [sic] goal of equity, diversity and inclusion of all people,” Many Guns writes at one point, “is synonymous with the interests of Indigenous people.”
She goes on to name three people who have been “leaders” in that effort, one of whom you’re heard of: the twentieth-century poet E. E. Cummings. Anyone who has read Cummings knows that he usually (though not always!) eschewed capital letters in his poems. He almost always capitalized the first letters in his name (it was his publisher who first wrote out his name in all lower case), though on rare occasion he signed his name as “e. e. cummings.”
But was Cummings a champion of “equity, diversity and inclusion of all people,” as Linda Many Guns asserts? You’d never guess it from some of the poems he left behind. Here are two (both redacted):
one day a n*gger
caught in his hand
a little star no bigger
than not to understand
i’ll never let you go
until you’ve made me white”
so she did and now
stars shine at night.
a k*ke is the most dangerous
machine as yet invented
by even yankee ingenu
ity(out of a jew a few
dead dollars and some twisted laws)
it comes both prigged and canted
Cummings rejected calls from friends and editor to withdraw the poems from publication, claiming they were intended as a comment on prejudice not an acceptance of it. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine that Many Guns approves of the works or would hail them as evidence of Cummings’s dedication to the cause.
In any case, Cummings’s fascination with capitalization — which extended to other aspects of typography, including spacing, word and line breaks, parentheses, and punctuation — had solely to do with technique and his craft, not because he was a leader in the struggle for equity, diversity, and inclusion.