One thing I’ve discovered about bloggers is that many if not most of them have a fondness for language. Some of the most inventive invective and ribald retorts can be found on blogs of both sides of the political spectrum. This is why we read them. Blogs are entertainment for the mind as well as nourishment for the soul and to deny that the interesting turn of a phrase or juxtaposition of metaphors doesn’t gladden the heart and cause the spirit to soar is to deny the reason most of us read in the first place.
But that same talent and inspiration can also be used in ways that degrade and debilitate the meaning of words themselves while at the same time, revealing the scribbler to be ignorant of the facility of language and oblivious to specific definitions that have come about as a result of more than 300 years of modern English language usage.
It is said that language can be an inexact medium of communication. This is true insofar as many people misuse words both deliberately and in ignorance. As for the former, there has been a movement afoot for more than 30 years that sees definitional language as a form of tyranny, that words themselves are binders that tie the user to an archaic pre-modern set of concepts wedded to the idea of white, Anglo-Saxon, male dominance. These post-modernists decided to pull the rug out from underneath the New Critics by claiming that instead of concentrating on text (or the language itself) to glean meaning from the written word, one should instead throw context to the four winds and substitute referential formulations that are anti-subjective hence, free of the biases inherent in a language created and maintained by white males.
As for the latter reason – ignorance – I quote that great American philosopher Forrest Gump who wisely said “Stupid is as stupid does.”
This tug of war over language and its meanings is not some exercise in academic obscurantism. It is of vital necessity because those who seek to free language from some imagined tyranny have instead made it infinitely more difficult to communicate. They having succeeded in grafting some of their ideas about meanings onto the tree of general usage. The damage this has done to political discourse in this country has been superficial so far but threatens to make debate on any number of issues impossible because important concepts are being defined in entirely different ways by people of different ideological stripes.
To wit: Recently several writers have accused me of being a “racist.” The context is unimportant except to note that they are accusing me with this nauseating epithet not because of any comments about someone from a different race. Indeed, this is the crux of my argument because I am being accused of being a racist against a group from my own race – the Arabs.
The online American Heritage Dictionary defines “racism” and “racist” thusly:
racÂ·ism ( P ) Pronunciation Key (rszm)
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
racist adj. & n.
The races of man are in a constant state of flux but even today, we see three highly delineated groupings of human beings based largely on color but also on other factors. For instance:
Caucasoids. 1,000 million people with variable skin colour; white-dark brown. Hair variable, never woolly, body hair often thick. Lips tend to be thin. Three subdivisions exist, the Nordic, the Mediterranean and the Alpine.
The Nordic group are often tall, blonde and narrow headed – Scandinavia, Baltic, Germany, France, Britain The Mediterranean group (Southern France, Spain, Italy and oddly, Wales Egyptians, Semites, Persians, Afghans and some Indians. Lighter in body build, dark and narrow headed. The Alpine group extends from the Mediterranean to Asia. Broad headed, square jaws, olive skin, brown hair.
In other words, Arabs (belonging mostly to the “Semite” subgroup but also could be “Egyptian” and a small group of Indo-European peoples who reside in areas of Afghanistan) are more closely related to the French than they are any of the Negroid populations further south in Africa or Mongoloids to the east. To say that I am a racist because I hate the Arabs is like saying I’m a racist because I hate Italians.
But don’t try and tell this to the purveyors of political double-talk – not when there are points to be made by using the term “racist” in order to delegitimize your opponent’s arguments. It has now become second nature to the racialists (people who traffic in the use of race and issues of race to illegitimately take a superior moral position in argument) to bandy about the epithet in public discourse doing damage to both discursive conversation and the general sensibilities of the public with regard to the use of language.
This usage does not impress me nor does it faze me – no more than any other imbecilic argument made by people who are generally uninformed about other things. It does however gall me that the English language is being hijacked by a bunch of what R. Emmett Tyrell referred to as “dirty necked galoots.” And that is where my name calling critics have gotten my goat.
So to all who wish to call me a racist, I would consider it a favor if instead you substituted the more accurate pejorative “bigot.”
At least then, I’ll understand what you’re talking about.
Kender has similar thoughts and complaints.