Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Divided by a common language
A true story: In a nearby town, the librarian — let’s call her Marian — thought she should send out an official statement saying, “We support #BlackLivesMatter. We resolutely assert and believe that all forms of racism, hatred, inequality and injustice don’t belong in our society,” a virtue-signal more puffed-up than most.
I consider it an injustice that I am unequal to Dwayne Johnson in buffness, so does the missus. But rage as I might, that type of inequality will never change. Nor will many others found in the hyperbolic “all forms” category of Marian’s statement. We’re all humans; from that springs many unaddressable inequalities of body and mind, unjust though we think them.
If only Marian had run the draft through the library board, someone might have pointed out that her logic and language needed work. But she didn’t. Instead, her screed made it into print before it was fully baked. Consequences followed.
The county sheriff — let’s call him Andy — believing his department to be in the crosshairs, responded essentially, “OK, if you support #BlackLivesMatter, I guess you won’t be calling 911 anymore. Good luck with the stuff we’ve dealt with previously over there.”
The howling is just now dying, tamped down by statements from Andy that he supports people’s right to say what they think and from Marian that her epistle meant to say that “we are welcoming to everyone and treat everyone equally.” It would have been better had she just said that to begin with, but there’s an unfortunate tendency among leftists to use words not to communicate and clarify but for other, unhelpful, purposes.
Consider Marian’s first sentence. What does she mean by “Black lives matter?” If she meant “humans with Black skin are as possessed of integral worth, rights and freedoms as humans of any other skin color and, consequently, matter as much,” she probably would have had no argument from Andy. But “Black lives matter” has other incarnations not so benign.
The first is the general protest movement to which Black Lives Matter and antifa have lent their names and numbers. Their goal, voiced by Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, is to be rid of President Donald Trump. Second is to “defund the police.” There are other objectives like ending “state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism,” destroying the nuclear family and so forth.
This is a “Black lives matter” that might give Sheriff Andy pause.
Then there is the Black Lives Matter organization, which wants reparations for slavery, confiscation of white-owned and church property, voting and officeholding by those in the U.S. illegally, profound constitutional changes to create a “General Commission with administrative powers” to replace Congress with members drawn from among “experts” in the trades and industry and much else, according to its putative manifesto.
This is a “Black lives matter” to which Andy would give a thumbs-down.
Marian doesn’t say which “Black lives matter” she supports. Nor is it clear in the commonplace question, “Do you support Black Lives Matter?” And if one has the temerity to ask for clarification, high dudgeon and accusations of racism begin in earnest.
Because the question, and many others like it, aren’t intended to elicit information. Instead, they employ vague terms and sloppy syntax to create openings for an attack on the other party. It’s a reprehensible tactic with a long history: George Orwell cited it and other linguistic corruptions in his essays, and “1984” is full of examples of totalitarian “newspeak.”
We’re dealing with the same sordid stuff from real-life Neo-Oceanians, and it hasn’t improved with age. Consider that it’s no longer sufficient not to be racist, one must be “anti-racist.” When an explanation is requested, that is proof ipso facto of racism. “Racism” is now “systemic racism,” and the same rules apply. Ask for proof of “institutional racism?” Racist. Suggest that obliterating the memory of the author of our Declaration of Independence for slave-owning ignores the reality of human complexity? Racist. Offer evidence that the status of Black Americans is better today than it was in 1962 Mississippi? Racist.
It’s a cheap trick, a flaming pile of circular reasoning and question-begging that now passes for argument on the left side of the political aisle, and it’s getting worse fast. If it’s not extinguished, it will spread until the country is burned to the ground — evidently what Black Lives Matter and their leftist enablers want.
Better push back while there’s still something worth saving.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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