Monday, June 19, 2006
RECLAIM THE WORDS!
I still haven't gotten over the spectacle of John Kerry standing mute when he allowed his service in Vietnam and his heroism to be called into question by no less than a deserter, and raised not a finger in his own defense. That was the ultimate degradation. I mean, come on. There was Kerry debating the little ferret on national TV. He had him in his sites, with the cameras rolling. All he had to do was ask him point blank: "Okay, Mr. President. Everybody wants to know. Where were you between. . ." and cite the dates when Bush went missing from his National Guard duty. This is basic lawyer stuff, isn't it? You ask the crook a question to which you already know the answer, then watch him hoist on his own petard.
But Kerry let the moment slip away, along with his shot at the White House. When you're dealing with the likes of Rove, Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney, you just can't keep on being Mr. Nice Guy, for they will chew you up and spit you out. They had Kerry on the ropes for the entire ten rounds and our guy never got off a lick.
Now, I've run across this article by the Reverend Jim Rigby on Alternet, called Don't Bow To God's Bullies. In the comments section, which ran on for well over three hundred responses--quite lively it was--there erupted a mini-firestorm of debate over the issue of certain people calling themselves "Brights." "Brights? What the hell is that?" I asked myself. Well, turns out they're just agnostics and atheists. But those particular words have been so shit on by all the so-called Christians and various wingnuts on the right, that now everybody's scared to use the actual words to describe what, in fact, they are. Just like they're too frightened to call themselves "liberals."
Basically, we have allowed this wrecking crew to manipulate and undermine the language. Because why? Because we're too damned nice.
To me, the word, "agnostic" is a perfectly acceptable term, and I'm not afraid to use it in describing myself. According to my Webster's Dictionary, the word was coined by Thomas Huxley in 1870. It derives from the Greek, agnostos, "unknown, unknowable." It is defined as "a person who believes that the human mind cannot know whether there is a God or an ultimate cause, or anything beyond material phenomena." What's wrong with that?
But no, that word has been ruined. So now we have the word "Bright." Great. I guess we'll see how long it lasts. Because I'm willing to bet money it won't be long till all the mindless cretins sieze on that word for a new target, for that is what they are good at, and then it, too, will go the way of "agnostic" and "liberal" and even "revolution," which was first co-opted by the likes of Newt Gingrich and the odious Grover Norquist, then spread like wildfire among the Neocons, till now the word doesn't even resemble what it originally meant.
The only right thing to do is to reclaim the language, indeed, to stand up for it, instead of always shrinking away, scrambling around like timid mice in search of ever more pleasing and obsequious alternatives. Yes, sir, I believe in the Constitution and Democracy and the rule of law. I believe it is wrong and unAmerican to incarcerate people without due process, and it is a grotesque wrong and a sin--if ever there was one--to torture people. I believe everyone has a fundamental right to food, water, health care. I believe in libraries. I believe in a living wage. And if all these things make me a "Liberal," then Hallelujah!--sign me up! Rather than hide from it, I embrace the term.
And if I'm not sure if there's a God in the heavens, and that makes me an "agnostic," then all it means is "I don't know," and where's the shame in that?