Apparently, in some alternate reality where words and phrases have no objective meaning or intrinsic value and where Emperor Jaquith has appointed himself the official arbiter of carving their definitions in stone.
What am I referring to?, the peanut gallery inquires. Why, Charlottesville’s very own Waldo Jaquith who, despite running an admirable (and, in many respects, invaluable) site in RichmondSunlight.com, also deigns to opine personally on his own blog. And, when he does, he exposes himself as the lowest sort of political pundit- the eternally irritable and indiscriminate bombthrower (think Air America, not Irish Republican Army).
His recent post regarding a line Laurence Verga tossed out at last Saturday’s 5th District candidate forum proves my point in glorious fashion.
…that voting for Barack Obama was “political correctness.” … “Political correctness” is conservative-speak for “supporting minorities.”
When people talk about teabaggers being racist, this is exactly the sort of shameful horsesh*t that they’re talking about. F*ck this guy.
(I added the asterisks.)
So, we have two terms here: “political correctness” and “racist,” both of which Waldo takes it upon himself to define in the quotes above, and elsewhere in his post.
Nevermind that his premise is complete nonsense based entirely on fictitious revisionist definitions, but he proceeds to use these erroneously ascribed meanings as the sole foundation for the rest of his presumptions.
So, a bit of clarification is in order, and it would do him and the rest of you some good to read the rest of this post carefully, especially since I am about to drive more traffic to his site than he’s seen in months.
First off, I am in no way defending Laurence Verga’s statement. His premise was just as wrong (and almost as silly) as Waldo’s. In the interests of context, here’s the background:
The question for the candidates last Saturday evening was “What do you see as the greatest threat to our national security?” Verga’s response (and I’m paraphrasing slightly) was: Ourselves. I mean, not anyone here, but the people who put the current administration in power. It was political correctness gone awry.
Okay, number one (in the interests of full disclosure), I remember listening to Verga’s first interview on the Rob Schilling show, WAY back when I was in the Republican nomination race, and positively grimacing at his use of the word “regime” to describe our current Presidential administration. While this particular quote did not include the word “regime,” I’ve heard Laurence toss it around several times since that Schilling interview. Disagree on policy issues all you want, and vocally decry them, by all means, but “regime” has taken on connotations that render it extremely derogatory to a duly elected Commander-In-Chief.
“Regime,” as defined by Merriam-Webster, means “a method of government.” Harmless, right? Well, here’s the thing: it may just be a matter of semantics to some, but the distinction is clear to me. In America, our “method of government” has already been outlined. We have a Representative Republic, founded on the rule of law, being our Constitution. So, to ascribe a “method of government” to one man, let alone the nation’s chief executive, is a bit of a stretch.
But, if you want to make the case that our current chief executive is laying the groundwork to circumvent our method, thereby instituting his own “regime,” well, the facts are there to make just such a case. But to throw out words like “regime,” (without presenting that case) when the same label has been ascribed to Castro, Hussein, Ahmedenijad, and other brutal dictators of late, is not exactly cool in my book.
Respect for the office should not be granted or denied on the condition of policy agreement, and I think even our liberal friends would agree on that (at least since about noon on January 20th of 2009).
Now, with that out of the way, on to Waldo’s creative redefining of terms: To be fair, there are a multitude of people in this country who have little or no understanding of the term “racism” and its true definition, with Waldo simply being a recent (and local) example of one such person. It is high time we had a dialogue to, once and for all, put to bed this insidious belief that “racism,” “bigotry,” and “discrimination” are interchangeable.
As some radio guy once said, “Words mean things.” We would do well to take a little refresher course on this increasingly novel concept. To discriminate means simply to make a choice, whether through conscious or innate and visceral processes, between two or more possible options. When you purchase a box of Golden Grahams instead of Cap’n Crunch, you are discriminating (and foolishly so, because Crunchberries trump Golden Grahams all day long and twice on Sunday, you blasphemer!).
There are varying degrees of discrimination, and they range from bias to prejudice to bigotry. Discrimination can be completely innocent of any racial connotation (as in the cereal example above), as can bias and even prejudice. For a good example of prejudice, think of that one person you know (and everybody knows at least one) who absolutely refuses to eat at a restaurant that serves Coke products (or Pepsi products, depending on their preference). This is, yes, prejudice.
The only form of discrimination that rarely stems from anything other than race is bigotry. But you will notice that, over the past several decades, bigotry exhibited by certain people on the starboard side of the political spectrum has been trumpeted as racism. Contrary-wise, out and out racism by some folks on the port side has been pooh-poohed as merely bigotry, or perhaps even as minor as bias. (And I can give countless f’r'instances, should you care to delve into that can of worms with me. But, I’ll warn you now, it’s “shovel-ready.”)
Some may be chomping at the bit to lambaste me for the preceding paragraph, so let me dig into my bag of pre-emptive “shhhh!” I am neither defending those on the right, nor attacking those on the left, who have engaged in bigotry or racism. Read that last parenthetical phrase closely. See? I even lumped them together into my allegorical “can of worms.” And they are, without exception, worms. So, as I said, “SHHHH!”
Now, this blatant double-standard I just referred to is a classic example of the political correctness Laurence was talking about. A far cry from Waldo’s idiotic suggestion that:
“Political correctness” is conservative-speak for “supporting minorities.”
Supporting minorities? Really? I have read this quote from C.S. Lewis on my radio shows several times:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
That quote beautifully sums up the entire goal behind the so-called “Great Society” instituted by Lyndon Baines Johnson (a Democrat) and his Congress (both houses of which were completely controlled by Democrats). And you don’t have to take my word for it. Just look at the poverty statistics, especially for black families with households led by single mothers, which can be found easily on the US Department of Labor and Health & Human Services websites.
The Great Society was put in place for one reason only: to oppress minorities under the guise of, as Waldo put it, “supporting” them.
Another quote, if you’ll indulge me. This one from none other than the great Frederick Douglas:
Everybody has asked the question. . .”What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!
This sentiment from such a great champion of abolition, by the way, just happens to be the same exact idea represented by the conservative principles of smaller government, personal responsibility, and rugged individualism. Casting aspersions on individual achievement, especially when it includes wealth, is the realm of the modern Democrat Party and, coincidentally enough, is ideologically opposed to what Douglas sought.
So, Waldo, you and your party’s “support” of minorities? How has that worked out for them? We see the evidence, daily, of how it’s worked out for your party: they’ve created a dependent class, which was their aim, to secure a seemingly permanent voting base.
But how has your incessant “doing with them,” as Douglas put it, increased their standard of living, improved their prospects for greater opportunity, or even raised their self-esteem one iota? It has, indeed, “played the mischief” with all of the above.
Now, let’s bottom-line this thing right here and now and be done with it: THE definition of racism is a belief in the genetic superiority of one race over another, just as sexism is belief in the genetic superiority of one gender over another. And when a particular political party has consistently kept minorities under their thumb, whether in the form of overt oppression (masked in pointy white hoods) or covert oppression (masked as “compassion” or “helping”), what other root cause can it possibly be attributed to?
In short, then, were Verga’s comments stupid? Hells, yes. But is he a racist for saying that political correctness played a part in Obama’s election? Absolutely not. And anyone who would suggest such a thing is either ignoring objective facts or so blinded by their own zeal to see their agenda made manifest that they can’t see the facts. They reveal this blind spot even more when, at the same time, they ignore the blatant actual racism embedded in comments made by Al “White Interlopers” Sharpton, Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson, and even their beloved Harry “Selective Negro Dialect” Reid who, in giving Barack Obama that backhanded compliment, also put on display for all the world his utter disdain for several million Americans who have a “Negro dialect” (without choosing it), and his deep-seated feelings of, yes, genetic superiority over them.
Waldo, and everyone else who engages in this deliberate misuse of terms (wherever that person falls on the political spectrum), MUST be called out for doing so. If they are not held accountable for the words they use, and their proclivity to play fast and loose with the meanings of those words and phrases, the distinctions will continue to be blurred.
All pundits are entitled to use whatever words they choose, but their definitions are not arbitrary. If we continue to pretend they are, we denigrate and erode the very communication we must engage in to achieve any solution to any problem our society faces. Including actual racism.