Okay, so the continent-spanning, talk-radio-consuming fixation on mid-term elections has passed. Can we now, please, get back to what’s actually required — the bottom line — if we’re to salvage America?
Voting into office a particular House Rep here, replacing a certain Senator there, tweaking the balance of power a bit in each chamber may mean many things. A presto-change-o remedy to the national crisis, however, isn’t among them.
The United States has a heart problem. It is sick and disordered at its core. The Republic’s culture is invidiously diseased, its governmental and electoral system isn’t operating on all cylinders. The non-negotiable solution to this condition remains well beyond the cheering results of a handful of political races. Tectonic shifts are required — in “the people” ‘s entrenched attitudes and priorities.
Take, for instance, the topic of dealing with reality: something increasingly kidnapped and mutated into something which wouldn’t be recognized even a short decade past. “Reality apathy” someone has called it. Washington Times columnist Robert Knight alerts: “The ruling elites aim to make us say that up is down, right is wrong, sweet is bitter and life is death.”
Which brings us to the matter of “doula”. What’s that? Not familiar with the term? Neither was I until I read about it the other day. Eric Metaxas enlightens: “[T]raditionally she’s a woman who helps mothers through the birth process … the doula participates in a life-giving, life-affirming, communal act, welcoming a child into the larger community.”
However, in the newly minted phrase “abortion doula” we find the opposite: she’s one who helps a mother through the killing of her offspring; the ferociously life-ending, life-denying, un-welcoming of a child into the larger community. “[T]he term ‘doula’,” continues Metaxas, “has, like many other terms, been appropriated by the culture of death in order to hide the horror of what is actually taking place.”
That’s how the dark side operates: it rips off and soils everything good and high-minded, hijacking it for their iniquitous designs.
Pro-aborts, Leftists and secularists of every stripe, you see, recognize the war on words is a matter of survivalist significance. How human beings speak, after all, shapes how they face everything around them. “[O]ne principal way in which our civilization is rendered vulnerable to the assaults of its enemies … is by the undermining of linguistic truth,” writes historian Paul Johnson. “[Language] is the bloodstream of our culture, the real infrastructure of civilization … So long as we have language, we cannot be wholly enslaved”.
A Confucian proverb puts it: “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names.” Years ago, the editors at National Review concurred: “[P]hilosophers care deeply about names and words since they are the building blocks of thought.”
This arrangement has its positive advantage: emollient words can ameliorate even the most wretched circumstance. But there’s a negative facet to it, as well: “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,” George Orwell observed. Novelist Joseph Conrad trenchantly dubbed words, “the great foes of reality.”
The battle for America’s culture incorporates this battle for honoring the way things really are, which involves the battle for language. Not seeing the connection? I present the depredation of once common, casually familiar terms which has been going on for over a generation, at least. The corruption of words, and thus of the reality they’re supposed to represent, is old news — an ugly dynamic to which Western society has been yielding since my youth.
I recall in the mid-1970s my tenth-grade English teacher briefly, but memorably, flaring into a rant about the rapine of the adjective “gay”, a once perfectly serviceable term for “happy” or “lovely”, by that time rendered effectively un-usable except for one narrow and salacious application. I can easily speculate how she’d react in 2018. Consider the shanghaiing of constructions like “partner”, “marriage”, “husband”, “wife”, “man” “, “woman”, not to mention “he/she”, “his/her”. The once transparent meaning of all these can no longer be assumed.
When packs of caterwauling progressives menacingly mob conservative politicians attempting to eat a restaurant meal or walk through public spaces, we’re sternly tutored we can’t identify them as “mobs”. When traditionalists or constitutionalists dare vocalize disagreement with politically correct pieties? Why, that’s lately defined as “hate speech”.
Clearly, this game playing with words is joined at the hip with reality distortion. Life is plenty complicated and challenging enough, and these outbreaks of language-mischief only exacerbate the situation. Yet, a twenty-first century person defies these lexical demands at his/her own peril. Samuel Adams declared the “tools of a tyrant” is to “pervert the plain meaning of words”.
As long as bullies can ransack our means of communication for their nefarious purposes and the general populous plays along, bovine-like, with the make believe? Mere election results don’t stand a chance of generating meaningful, enduring improvements to American society.
So, what’s a reality-cherishing guy to do? Stop playing along with the language-manglers. Uphold or retrieve endangered but respectable words. Orwell again: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
This could entail taking stands that are uncomfortable, occasionally confrontational, once in a while risky. Did you hear about the Shawnee State University Christian professor “who’s taking his employer to court after being reprimanded for not using female titles and pronouns in conversations with a gender-confused male student”?
That’s a propitious start. Across the nation, sensible folks need to follow that example, tirelessly sending up recalcitrant signals: Language and definitions matter, because so does reality.
Republicans managed to hold the Senate this go-round, thus, some citizens might be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief and turn their attentions away from foundational concerns like this widespread assault on language. There’s a word for that kind of thinking and last time I checked its meaning hadn’t changed: delusional.
Image: CCO Creative Commons; https://pixabay.com/en/letters-numbers-blocks-alphabet-691842/