Language as a Weapon…the Political Spin & the Skewing of “Entitlements”

Remember the harried call for “the moral majority?” How about the clarion for “family values?” Or how Spiro Agnew called the left “effete, intellectual snobs?” The tone of the rhetoric of the right for nearly 2 decades was to accuse the left of violating the values of the American Family.
I have been asking a question for a few months now: why is it not “family values” to expect and support a citizenry that is
  • Nourished;
  • Housed;
  • Healthy;
  • Educated;
  • Employed and able to earn a viable living; and/or
  • Protected in their elder years?
Why is asking that our citizens can expect that which was promised for the entire Baby Boom now the tool of politicians who are spending millions, and eventually billions, of dollars to be elected? Why is the language so skewed and that bias is to demonize Americans for desiring, expecting, and striving for the American Dream? I just do not understand.
Language is a tool…a weapon…a volatile premise. I often ask high school students to tell me names of famous people who have changed the world through the effective use of language. Their list is comprehensive. I believe that I blogged some responses in previous posts. They also understand that there are negative changes that have been wrought through effective language and skilled speech writers and orators.
We have a field of politicians waging verbal war and not addressing the very pressing issues of the day. One that really bugs me is the notion of “entitlements.” The implication from the Right is that Americans are asking for something they do not deserve rather than being given title to the funds that they have deposited into the system since they first started working. And the press seizes that word and supports its usage from all sides of the fences. Just as the media supported the sanitized term “ethnic cleansing.” Every election and every administration delivers at least one term, one word or phrase that then becomes the lexicon through media enforcement. Remember “weapons of mass destruction” that started with Clinton and ran rampant in the Bush years. How about “embolden?” When was the last time you used that word before it coming from the White House press room during the Iraq war that has helped bankrupt our nation? How about “Not on my watch?” These are now commonalities because the White House, at some point in time, spoke them and the media seized the moment and tattooed them into the public consciousness. How about “maverick?” And the bold claim of the “Silent Majority?”
Language is precious and beautiful. Language is brutal and damning. It is both a weapon and a tool, and it is a way to “embolden” as well as enslave.
Our nation is in a weakened state. We must be ever conscious of the tone and scope of our words. And we must regain our own legitimate self-respect and power as a society. I am not sure how. It seems insurmountable. But I know that the current rhetoric is not going to do it. I know that the bullying of the right and the left of each other will not accomplish it. Breaking the unions, vilifying teachers, attacking those who work in public services, and defunding the many valuable programs that have made the quality of life in our nation what it has been until very recently (and is currently highly threatened by “reform”) will not achieve it.
I also know that being silent will be the worst option.
Thanks again for following my blog. I appreciate your consideration of my words and thoughts.

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