Is there nothing in the worlds of negotiation, of convincing people to think and do things they aren’t entitled to, with the elegance, the power, the pure majesty of simply capping off one’s argument with a jaunty “full stop”?
If Abraham Lincoln had told Jefferson Davis “abolish slavery and rejoin the union, full stop!” there would’ve been no Civil War.
Had RIchard Nixon said “I am not a crook – full stop“, there’d have been no Watergate, no impeachment, no resignation.
If WInston Churchill had punctuated the Dunkirk speech – “…we shall fight on the beaches and the landing grounds, we shall never surrender, full stop!”, Hitler would have pulled back from France, abdicated, and fled to Mongolia.
Had the Pope responded to Martin Luther with a decisive “Iustificamur ex operibus, plenus finis” (“We are justified by works. Full stop“), there’d have been no Reformation, no 100 years war. \
If the guys in Milli Vanilli had simply said, “We are the real singers! Full stop!”, they would be bigger than Madonna, Elvis, the Beatles, Taylor Swift and Slim Whitman today.
So pity the poor Minnesota GOP. Who can stand in the face of such remorseless logic and deft rhetoric?
For example – I, personally, started out believing that “Rights” are inalienable, non-material things with which one is born, and from which one can not be legitimately separated except by very solemn due process.
But then I read this:
And voila! I’m convinced! A “right” is a bit of material swag bestowed on the deserving by the political process!
Even “Lieutenant” Governor Flanagan, who punctuated one of her (very, very few non-risible) arguments with this…
“What if someone built a restaurant named ‘Swastika’?”
It wasn’t a question I ever got to ask the owner of Uptown’s late, lamented (?) Soviet-themed restaurant. I wasn’t going to ask the waitstaff or the bartender; they’re working stiffs and they don’t need to care one way or the other. But when friends asked me to meet there, I was a little uncomfortable; nobody would attend, much less open, a restaurant named “Swastikas”. You could probably sneak a few themes through: Blutwurst und Boden, or maybe Ein Fork, Ein Stein, Ein Menu.
But Hammer and Sickle? A direct reference to the emblem of one of the three most lethal regimes in history?
I went – long story. Great selection of vodka, and the best piroshki I’ve had since the Vomit Comet killed off the late, great “Russian Tea House” on University Avenue. It wasn’t my party, didn’t need to make a fuss…
Another new restaurant, this time on the East Side of Saint Paul, gets into funky historical and cultural turf – maybe.
Juche is the official ideology of the North Korean regime. It’s Stalinism with a Korean accent. In terms of cultural and historical overtones, it’s a simple word that, viewed through a Nork lens, is as loaded as Lebenraum or Wrecker.
Not viewed through a Nork lens, it’s not entirely unlike the idiomatic and unobjectionable-to-admirable Finnish maxim of Sisu – self-reliance, grit, determination, stoicism.
And I’d love to figure it out. So, long story short, I guess I know where I’m eating next weekend.
In my 20s, I had a section of my bookshelf that I called my “Know Thy Enemy” section.
It had an assortment of books that, broadly, are antithetical to Western Civliization: Marx, Mein Kampf (in German and translation), even a copy of “The Turner Diaries” at one point (although that last one got tossed along the way).
Point being, while I don’t still literally have that bookshelf, I find it useful to know our enemies.
So I listen to NPR. Not all the time. Mostly when I’m stuck on a long drive. I seek out the blinkered, the entitled and the depraved.
The New Yorker Radio Hour rarely disappoints on any of those counts. Like it’s fellow WNYC production, NYRH is a reliable stenographer for the inner id of eastern transatlantic progressive reflexes.
This past weekend? The etymology of word “woke”…
…which, we are reminded, doesn’t really exist:
Lately, conservatives have blamed “wokeness” for everything from deadly mass shootings to lower military recruitment. Still, few have a ready definition for what the word means.
The episode then goes on to provide its etymology (I’m a linguistics geek, I live for that stuff) and several working definitions and its history of use on the “progressive” left…
…on the way toward telling us the whole thing is a conservative messaging scam.
This is, of course, the leftist pattern:
Coin a term – “Politically Correct”, “CRT” “Woke”, “Mostly Peaceful” – to describe one of the left’s activities or goals
Turn it into a social cliche.
When conservatives turn the cliche against them, declare it never existed and that that it’s all right-wing messaging (leaving behind a residue of people who didn’t get the memo, and continue to use the term in its original form with dogged, entitled obstinacy).
Move on to the next term, lather, rinse, repeat.
My project for the coming year: do my little bit to push “white supremacy” down into Step 4.
And if you expect something that the Babylon Bee might have passed on as too implausible, you’re half right. The Bee makes better satire. But if you work in modern corporate culture, it’s all too plausible.
The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) is a multi-phase, multi-year project to address harmful language in IT at Stanford. EHLI is one of the actions prioritized in the Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Action, which was published by the Stanford CIO Council (CIOC) and People of Color in Technology (POC-IT) affinity group in December 2020.
The list has gotten a raft of derisive coverage – all of it justified.
Pick a favorite.
Mine (so far):
Seminal: Replace with “Leading, Groundbreaking”. Term reinforces male-dominated langauge.
Well, no – Seminal (and “Semen”) are derived from the Latin term for “Seed”. A “seminal” thing is something from which something bigger grows. It’s not “male-dominated”, it’s Latin-dominated.
Transgendered: replace with “Transgender”. This term avoids connections that being transgender is something that is done to a person and/or that some kind of transition is required.
Grammatically? That’s just bizarre. Adding “ed” is a common way to turn a noun into an adjective.
Biologically? That’s even more bizarre. The word “Trans” itself means some sort of, uh, transition is required.
Oh, go ahead. Pick out your favorite and leave it in the comment section. I can’t fight the language war by myself.
Big Left’s latest atrocity against the language – a perversion that looms large in the “Twitter Files” story – is the debasement of the terms “Attack” and “Safety”.
The “attack” was more commonly or germanely known as “showing evidence of wrongdoing on Fauci and Roth’s parts”, of course. And the fact that Roth was Twitter’s “Safety” czar, with “safety” in this case meaning “insulation from conservative dissent”, closes the circle on my lede.
But the larger point is, Big Left is actively debasing terms that used to have fairly vivid meanings.
“Attack”: Leaving out actual physical assaults, it meant a malicious verbal or written aggression – not “building a case for someone’s malfeasance”.
“Safety”: The state of being protected from or preventing harm – once upon a time. Now: the existence of an informational echo chamber.
The list goes on: Fascist, Holocaust, Nazi, Hitler, Man, Woman, Family, and on and on.
It’s not accidental, of course – controlling language is a key part of controlling society, and removing the redolence in language that harkens to the lessons of the past ensures that any future tyrant can dispense with any foreknowledge of what they are up to.
First: Thoughts and prayers for the people of Puerto Rico. Two devastating disasters in five years – the mind reels.
Second: It’s generally good manners to try to pronounce names and places relatively close to their linguistic originals. It’s why “Beethoven” and “Bach” are proncounced “BAY-to-ven” and “BAKH”, rather than BEE-Thoh-vun” and “BATCH”.
But now that there’s a big story in a Hispanic country, it’s time for National Public Radio reporters to indulge their most annoying affectation.
During standard NPR newscasts, we get a steady diet of reporters and anchors with otherwise traditional “Public Radio accents” – mild-mannered, neutral and and unobtrusive in a way that still bespeaks upper-middle-class roots, the sound of an Oberlin College graduate who interned in DC – abruptly switching out of their public radio lack-of-brogue to wrap their tongues around words like “PWAIR-toh RRRREEEE-koh”, rolling the “R” like Ricardo Montalban in his prime, dare I say *appropriating* a Puerto Rican via “West Side Story” accent …
…and then back to the NPR accent.
And for some reason, it’s ONLY Latino words (or the occasional South Asian one like “POCK-ee-stawn”) that prompts this affectation.
You never hear:
Bair-LEEN, BOON-des-re-poo-bleek DOYCH-land
Or, these days, most of all, “KHYIV, Ooo-KHRAI-nah”.
Pick one affectation and stick with it, I say.
SNL did in fact nail it, back when SNL was still capable of nailing, well, anything:
 One exception to the peeve – the reporters who are actually Puerto Rican or at least Latino, who manage to pull off the “NPR Accent” until it comes time to pronounce something Hispanic. No reason for them to dumb down their own language.
Dominant liberal culture is, if nothing else, fiercely rule-abiding: they get very upset when they see anyone defying decrees from authorities, even if the rule-breaker is the official who promulgated the directives for everyone else.
While I appreciate the willingness of Glenn Greenwald, a man of the Left, to call out the hypocrisy of our Ruling Class, this observation isn’t quite right, actually. Dominant liberal culture is all about rule promulgation, not necessarily personally abiding by rules. As time goes on, the pretense fades, and why wouldn’t it? Nothing ever happens to the Ruling Class.
Dobie Gray, a more perceptive social critic than our man Greenwald, was all over this way back in ’65:
I’m in with the in crowd I go where the in crowd goes I’m in with the in crowd And I know what the in crowd knows Any time of the year, don’t you hear? Dressin’ fine, makin’ time We breeze up and down the street We get respect from the people we meet They make way day or night They know the in crowd is out of sight
Back in ’65, the term “out of sight” roughly meant cool, fashionable, au courant, like that. Some 56 years later, out of sight has a more conventional meaning: in the shadows, behind the curtain, holed up in nondescript office buildings in and around the Beltway. Our in crowd is an industrious lot, and they keep coming up with more rules at all times, whether our Congresscritters weigh in or not.
Any time of the year, don’t you hear? Mocking fools, making rules
But many of our fellow citizens don’t hear, nor are they listening. Instead, we all hear our animatronic Leader of the Free World as he is sent out to joust with the Teleprompter.
We make every minute count Our share is always the biggest amount Other guys imitate us But the original’s still the greatest
It’s been 12 years since we last updated “The DFL Dictionary” – the official guide to translating from “leftist” to English.
And in today’s politics, that’s a couple of eternities, pureed to a fine sheen.
Looking back at the Second Edition, last updated in 2009, it almost looks like a trip back to a more innocent time, doesn’t it? Like an archaeological artifact when it seems like the languages were just a difference in argot, rather than rapidly diverging dialects of English?
It’s high time for an update.
I’ve got my suggestions. I welcome yours in the comments.
My Proposed Additions
Cancel Culture: It doesn’t exist, and never existed. And if you suggest otherwise, a mob will come after you, your employer and your family, as a consequence for saying things that aren’t and were never true.
Gender: (Noun) A social construct that is simultaneously dispositive on Intersectional matters, and doesn’t exist.
Hate: (noun). Any political thought that isn’t covered in the Democratic platform at the appropriate level of government.
Orwell, George: A British author who, despite his decades of activism on the left, and his own admissions, really wrote 1984 and Animal Farm about Republicans. Not leftists. Nosireebob.
Odd tourism ad, doncha think? Usually you get a picture of nature, or a soaring skyline, or beatiful people enjoying dazzling nightlife. But not this time.
So what does a tourist do in Portland? Apparently you can cross a bunch of bridges. That might have some allure. I have it on good authority that Portland has a number of restaurants, but it’s difficult to tell what the bill of fare might be from this brown paper ad. It’s possible the restaurants in Portland feature word salad. “We’re a place of dualities that are never polarities.” What does that even mean? Does it mean this?
“We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
…when I read this twitter thread:
To plumb the depths of our culture’s intellectual collapse, here’s the NR article Cooke wrote on the subject.
I first observed that Big Left was devaluing the term “Holocaust” – redefining it as “any social change Big Left doesn’t approve of” – over 30 years ago. To be fair that one never really took off – at the time, when people still took “Never Forget” seriously. I’m less sanguine about Big Left’s next attempt to sandbag that word.
Next came “Fascist”. “Anti”-Fa was only the latest among decades of hijacking, during which “Fascism” became equated with “any idea I, a member of Big Left, disagree with on any level” (as opposed to “Socialism combined with nationalism”).
“Hitler” and “Nazi” started taking it in the shorts during the George W. Bush administration, but their devaluation in the not-very-informed minds of a generation is proceeding apace.
Likewise “Racist”, “Misogynist” and pretty much any socially-loaded “-phobia”.
Culture is shaped, to a disturbing extent, by people who want to try to influence it.
And it’s been a cultural cliché for generation that television in its many forms has an overwhelming influence on society.
And as someone who spent way more time in Ramsey County family court, and dealing with culture’s assumptions about fathers and children, the subject of how media treats fatherhood has been of far more than casual interest to me for a long time.
I’ve observed since the early days of this blog that much of modern culture’s perception of fathers seems to be derived from Fred Flintstone (if you’re lucky – the cartoon rendering of Jackie Gleason was much preferable to the neutered George Jetson, albeit similar in every other way).
The good news – sociological reasarch  shows I’m right.
…we studied how often sitcom dads were shown together with their kids within these scenes in three key parenting interactions: giving advice, setting rules or positively or negatively reinforcing their kids’ behavior. We wanted to see whether the interaction made the father look “humorously foolish” – showing poor judgment, being incompetent or acting childishly.
Interestingly, fathers were shown in fewer parenting situations in more recent sitcoms. And when fathers were parenting, it was depicted as humorously foolish in just over 50% of the relevant scenes in the 2000s and 2010s, compared with 18% in the 1980s and 31% in the 1990s sitcoms.
At least within scenes featuring disparagement humor, sitcom audiences, more often than not, are still being encouraged to laugh at dads’ parenting missteps and mistakes.
Thing is, as more children are raised in single-parent housholds (a majority, in many communities), and given that the vast majority of those households are female-led, popular entertainment is going to have a disproportional role in shaping how children feel about what fathers are supposed to be.
I don’t watch a lot of current network TV, so it’s fairly academic to me at the moment.
But I’ve also noticed, again for over the past twenty-plus years, that the way fathers are portrayed in commercial is equally condescending  – but that there’s a pattern to this.
Remember – nothing in major media advertising, least of all on network or cable TV, is accidental. Every ad, down to the lowliest 10-second sweeper spot, is focus-grouped to a fine sheen before it goes near a broadcaster. The subtext of every ad is as carefully tuned as the messages themselves.
And I’ve noticed  that there’s a pattern:
Spots aimed at products most commonly aimed at guys (the social group, as opposed to “men”, the sex), products like beer and athletic gear, tools, blue-collar workers’ tools, vehicles bought for work (as opposed to lifestyle accessories), tend to portray women (if at all) as improbably attractive, but not as the focus of the spot/s.
Products aimed at women (by inference, women who lead or co-lead households, especially with children) are the ones that tend to show husbands as bumbling, dubiously competent, and very frequently not in their wives leagues, if you catch my drift.
Remembering that nothing in big-dollar advertising is accidental, what other conclusion is there than “Evidence tells advertisers that men see their women as ideal and attractive [which is sort of an evolutionary tautology], and women who spend money want to think that men – in general, and maybe their own – are hapless buffoons who’d be lying in their parents basements in a puddle of their own waste without them.”
Not sure that’s a great message for the young women or the young men of tomorrow.
 And yes, I now – sociology, like all soft sciences, is not a science. Soft science produces soft data, at best. And soft data is good enough for the point I’m making.
 Although somewhat less so if the fathers in the ads are black or Latino. And it seems that the fathers in mixed-race couples, who seem to make up a disproportionate number of couples in TV advertising these days, get portrayed pretty neutrally-to-favorably, although both of those observation are just that – impressions from a guy who doesn’t watch a whole lot of TV. Now, that would be an interesting study. And one ad that stuck out at me – the morning-TV spot for Hi-Vee supermarkets featuring the 1983 song “Our House” – indicates, albeit with a sample size of one, that even being a stay-at-home caretaker while the improbably gorgeous mom runs off to her office job doesn’t protect dad from that same level of condescension.
 Yep, anecdotally, not a controlled experiment bla bla bla.
Modern American “progressivism”, like all its many forebears in the past 200 years, has been all about rallying people against boogeymen. From “monarchists” in the French Revolution, to “Wreckers” in Stalin’s USSR to the Wobbly’s “Bosses”, up through “the patriarchy” and “the man” and “counterrevolutionaries” in Red China and San Francisco in the sixties and seventies, and if you have a hard time distinguishing between ’em, join the club.
Today, the boogeymen…er, boogiepeople on the left are pretty much all the things that people who are included are told to be “anti”. “Anti-Racism” “Anti-Misogyny” (not just sexism, anymore – it’s the more active, more malevolent noun these days), “Anti-Fascism”, “Anti-Transphobia”, and on and on – all of which sounds like good things to be “anti”…
…and, unsurprisingly, when you dig into the “Root Causes” of all those nouns, all things trace back to “Western Civilization” in all its particulars: the Judeo-Christian value on the individual and their worth, value, rights and responsibilities and potential of each and every person, as a person with a mind, a point of view, and at the end of the day an indivisible soul of personal, societal, political, intellectual and metaphysical worth.
Those aspects of humanity are anathema to progressivism in all its flavors. The focus is on the group – the Marxists “classes”, the Nazi’s irreducible focus on race, the modern academic Left’s obsession with a byzantine network of intersectional identity groups. The individual is nothing but a vote (for now), an appetite, a widget to be moved through the production line of life (like Obamacare’s awful caricature of Progressive humanity, “Julia”). Progressivism is “Materialist”. Souls, individual intellects and thoughts and reams, all are ephemeral; humans are widgets that consume and produce, and whose worth and value (to those in power) is expressed via their membership in the collective.
Those widgets have a term. “Bodies”. Not people. Not brains. Not souls.
She’s “a gun owner herself” – which might be seen in several ways. Is “P”M moderating? Are they realizing that the culture war has slipped far enough away from them, especially over this past year, that they have to start speaking to people who need to be convinced?
And she’s apparently incredibly famous, since she apparently just goes by “Rashmi”. I’ve turned “Protect” Minnesota’s website, Facebook feed and other social media upside down, and not been able to find any reference to a last name, which is Seneviratne, by the way.
But even during the reign of the serial fabulist the Reverend Nord Bence, “Protect” MN wasn’t nearly extreme enough in its hatred of guns and (law-abiding) gun owners, enough for some people.
“P”M spawned a breakway group, “Survivors Lead” – basically a woman, Rachel Joseph, with a long history of progressive activism and a story; an aunt who was murdered, according to Ms. Joseph’s story, by a gun.
Quick aside: I don’t minimize anyone’s trauma over having a loved one murdered. But in the many times I’ve heard Ms. Joseph’s story, she’s never once mentioned a perpetrator, someone actually holding and using the gun that killed her aunt; that persons evil motivation, the legal fallout from the murder, whether that person was sentenced or not. It’d be wrong to crack wise – “what, did the gun animate itself?” – but omitting a perpetrator, his/her motives and the like from the conversation is incredibly intellectually dishonest.
Anyway – “Rashmi” and her apparent moderation are not going over well with “Survivors Lead”:
The extreme heckling the not-as-extreme about getting less extreme. That qualifies as “dog bites man”, at the very most.
Rather less so? There followed some more, er, ethnically pointed traffic on one social media feed (from which I’ve long been blocked) or another.
After which “P”M – operating through its usual social media persona, the omniscient third person that used to be Martens and Nord Bence – responded:
On the one hand, watching the agents of Big Left eating each other is one of my favorite spectator sports.
And if the biggest semi-organic anti-gun group in MInnesota (shaddap about Moms Want Action already) is pivoting from pushing Linda Slocum’s gun grab bill to highlighting the inequity of gun control (“Race, class and geography all play into who gets to have a gun and who doesn’t” – which is something every Second Amendment activist has known for 50 years) and speaking in the first “person” to the prudence of victims of violence to arm up, then in culture war terms that’s the sound of the first tank crossing the pontoon bridge at Remagen.
But…”white bodied privilege?”
What the flaming hootie hoo?
I thought for a moment – is this a shot back at the Rachel Dolezals and Elizabeth Warrens of the world, with their flip-flopping identities, by “actual” “people of color”, reinforcing the idea that while you might “identify” with one degree melanin or another, your apparent appearance still wins out in the great privilege lottery (which will, I suspect, get pilloried hard by the Trans crowd, for whom perceived identity is everything? I’ll let the fight that one out).
But no. It’s much less hilarious than that.
It’s “inclusion language” – slang or argot that one class of people use to track who is in, and who is “out” – to be sure. That’s part of it, and people are noticing:
Referring to people as bodies is a reminder, writer Elizabeth Barnes says in an interview, that “racism isn’t just about the ideas that you have in your head.” Barnes is the author of “The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability, The Girl Behind the Wall.” In intellectual discussions, theories about social oppression sound almost disembodied; “we talk about prejudice,” Barnes says, “like it’s just a matter of ideas.” The point is to emphasize the physical violence done to black people through slavery, lynching, and police brutality. In the case of women, the term “bodies” highlights “what happens to women’s bodies in health care contexts, in sexual contexts, in reproductive contexts.”
But behond that?
It’s a nod to the materialism of the left – that the mind, the thoughts, the indivisible soul of the indivisual human being is not merely irrelevant, but inconvenient to the obsession with identity.
Your melanin defines you.
In some ways its a cheap ad hominem – “of course you’d think that, you are (add a reference to your target’s melanin, or lack thereof)”. But pointing logical fallacies out to the foot soldiers of Big Left is a little like arguing salinity with sharks; it’s just part of the water they swim in.
So – gun groups eating each other? Good.
The debate contributing to the ongoing hijacking of the language? Bad.
The whole thing participating, in its own little way, in the further erosion of one of the ideals that’s made Western Civilization the most successful, and humane , civilization in human history?
My hypothesis: “Progressive” politicians can say anything, no matter how outlandish or false, not only because they know the media will nearly never call them on it, but – more importantly – because they know people who are susceptible to voting for them are gullible, lacking in critical thinking skills, and so poorly-informed and in curious that they’ll never know better.
Data point: Alexandria “Tide Pod Evita” Ocasio Cortez claims President “disrespected”  her by calling her AOC.
Experiment: Does she make “AOC” a part of her public persona?
Observation: Why yes, she does! #Unexpected
Conclusion: AOC isn’t a gullible rube. She can merely count on anyone who takes her seriously to be a gullible rube.
 If you use “disrespect” as a verb, I dis-hear and dis-care-for, and have no respect for, anythingi else you have to day. Disrespect is an adjective.
Last night at a prayer meeting one of the members of the group told us that Minneapolis public schools made a change to job titles. This friend of mine is a teacher at Minneapolis South. He said it was announced yesterday that all titles in the Minneapolis public school system with the term Chief in them will be changed. It’s the end of racism as we know it.
Excising a word that existed in a constant context in the English language for hundreds of years?
I keep hearing these words used interchangeably, typically by liberals. That is wrong; they are not the same words. They do not mean the same thing.
Equality is when everyone gets the same. Equity is when everyone gets what they deserve.
You studied hard, went to class, turned in assignments on time. I never cracked a book, skipped class, failed to turn in assignments.
Equality means we both get A’s. Equity means you pass and I fail.
Doesn’t matter that you came from a culture which values education and I came from a culture which does not. Culture has nothing to do with equity or equality of results. That’s just an excuse for lack of individual effort.
Now, it’s gone even farther. Now equity means reparations. Someone whose hair and nose looked like yours had a rough life 150 years ago? Sorry about that, let me adjust your grade . . . here’s your A.
All that, and it’s unsustainable.
Problem is, society may well find that out by the literal and figurative collapse of everything that “equality” built that can’t, in all equity, continue.
“If You’re Not Part Of The Solution, You’re Part Of The Problem”
People who use this statement always use it incompletely. I’ll do it again, filling in and emphasiing the words that are unstated but that actually define the statement.
“If you’re not part of the solution I’m demanding, you’re part of the problem that’s in my way“.
It’s incumbent on you to convince me – everyone – that your solution isn’t worse than the problem. If you are a socialist, if your “solution” can be shown via a rational argument based in fact to be worse than the problem you see, then you’re going to have a tough time of it.
And if you use statements like “If you’re not part of the solution…”, it’s going to be even tougher, because if you knew all that rational, factual, “convincing people” stuff, you wouldn’t have to resort to such twaddle.