American Culture

WordsDay: things people can do with words…

A little over a year ago I wrote a piece for S&R in which I discussed the issue of words we use. In our time (to cite Hemingway too obliquely for most) we’re hearing an array of words being used. These words add up to a code. The problem is, as one historian notes, the average American seems to be too damned stupid to understand the code. So instead of the usual noodling I like to do about literature for WordsDay, today I’d like to talk about how three words are being used right now.

“Unelectable” – this word is being used in referring to Barack Obama. Those using this word are arguing that Obama cannot win the 2008 election – that he is “unelectable.”

This column by Charley Reese argues two of the points being bandied about concerning the Illinois senator and why he shouldn’t be voted for: he’s inexperienced in foreign policy and his librul ideas on gun control are tantamount to assaults on the Constitution. But at least Reese opens his column by addressing the real issue – “He has two things working against him. He’s African American and…” (does it really matter what the other thing is after baldly stating that first “thing”?)

What Reese is really saying is simple: “unelectable” = “America can be counted on to be racist.” Leave it to American punditry to couch such an inconvenient truth in “political” terms.

“Fixing” – this word is a hot topic right now because it brings the third of the major American sports to national attention for scandal – disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy has cast aspersions on his colleagues and on the NBA itself for “fixing” the outcomes of crucial playoff games.

Following on the heels of MLB’s steroid scandal and the NFL’s cheating scandal involving the NE Patriots, it becomes apparent that our professional sports leagues are reflecting the general brokenness of our government and culture. And that “fixing” actually means “breaking the rules” for that most important of American reasons for doing anything: $$$.

“Apology” – just yesterday President Bush “apologized” for his rhetoric during the run-up to the Iraq War. He said that he thought that “I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

He didn’t apologize for starting the war based on lies and misinformation, for causing the deaths of thousands of loyal Americans, for putting the American economy into a tailspin from which it shows no signs of recovering any time soon. I guess he thought no apology was necessary.

So one could say that in Bush’s case “apology” means “not really sorry.”

Categories: American Culture

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3 replies »

  1. Wow, nice liberal hatchet job. Lets have you comment some more on strawman targets please? Yes, Racism exists, but it’s an crappy thing that all people should fight both in their personal and public lives. Yes, illegal activity for the gain of cash exists, but its not an institutionalized behavior in the western secular world yet. Yes, GW Bush went to war in Iraq, but almost all of the people charged with being his checks and balances agreed that going into Iraq was an either good thing, or an acceptable thing, and voted him both the funds and the power to do so.

    Sorry to disagree with your tone. Freedom and the right to dissent are also words that can be twisted. Feel free.

    Vlad

  2. America may not be Utopia…but it is offering up a minority candidate as a potential President. Now that is an achievement to be proud of.

    I suspect Obama may have a problem with a number of people for the support he gives to the country of Israel.

    I really, really do not get how someone like Bush made it to the No 1 job.

  3. For this. . .

    He didn’t apologize for starting the war based on lies and misinformation, for causing the deaths of thousands of loyal Americans, for putting the American economy into a tailspin from which it shows no signs of recovering any time soon. I guess he thought no apology was necessary.

    . . . you could have added another phrase, one the neocons are fond of: creative destruction.

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