The Outstater

September 8, 2021

Words: Jot Them Down Quick Before They Disappear

“Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.” — Syme of the Ministry for Truth in George Orwell’s “1984”

IT IS ONE OF OUR OLDEST bits of wisdom, attributed to Confucius: “When words lose their meaning, men lose their freedom.” We are living in a time when that wisdom applies. You are encouraged to begin your own list of words in danger of being redefined to meaningless. Here is mine.

Immigrant — As a nation of immigrants, Americans tend to romanticize the word. Even so, until recently it has meant someone who comes here with the intent of becoming American at least in the constitutional sense, i.e., the individual valued above the state, equality of opportunity, the chance to own property. In any case, an immigrant now is thought to be anyone who has managed to set foot on U.S. soil. That could describe an invader, an occupier or an accidental settler expecting Americans to pay him to live exactly as he lived in the failed society from which he so desperately came. The first of 3,000 to 5,000 Afghans, many with blank visas or no identification who took advantage of confusion at the Kabul airport to board evacuation flights, have begun setting foot on Indiana soil. We assume that with burkas, cousin marriage, child brides, Sharia Law and all they are to be treated as fellow Hoosiers until the Biden administration can figure out which ones have terrorist connections. Where, by the way, is Gov. Eric Holcomb?

Veteran — It was assumed in earlier generations that if you found yourself in the military there was at least some chance that you would be put in harm’s way in the defense of your country. Thus the rigor of boot camp. When somebody says they are a “veteran” today they could have enlisted with a $40,000 bonus and chosen a career path that involved no possibility they would be in any danger before retiring as a CRT leadership specialist at age 37 with 50 percent pay for life. The distinction should be made clearer.

Capitalism — This once described an incredibly successful economic system in which the prices and the distribution of goods and services were determined by competition and voluntary transactions between individuals rather than by government decree. It now means greed and crass consumption if not ecological ruin. The truth is that the free working of a capitalist system discourages all of that (when prices increase, consumption drops). In higher education, capitalism serves today mainly as the straw man for socialism, an idea that works so poorly in practice that it needs to be explained as a tangential abstract.

Racist — You are a racist if you are white and anyone decides to call you one, and furthermore you have been a racist since infancy. Don’t bother protesting that you do not believe that any particular race is generally superior to any other or proclaiming that you harbor no hatred or even disrespect for any other race. Nobody will believe you.

Liars — We were taught in journalism school that you should be extremely careful when you publicly label someone a “liar.” It is a legally precise word (one that must be proven true) and freedom of speech or not you could be liable for damages. But with the judicial system topsy-turvy, a liar can be anyone with whom someone disagrees or whom they dislike or whose reputation they have reason to destroy or cancel — all with impunity.

Investment — If you follow municipal economic development you need reminded that the government cannot “invest” in anything because it has no money of its own. That is true no matter how much your mayor would like it to be so or how much he would like you to believe it to be so. When the mayor promises to pay a private company a profit up front, that company is not an investor but rather a rent-seeker or government proxy. In sum, investing in a town once meant that someone was using their own money at some risk and therefore was expressing confidence in the economic viability of a particular venture, project or community. Now it is more likely to mean that a larger than usual deception is being carried out

Evolution — At a time when a record 60 percent of Americans say they believe in “evolution,” meaning that all life can be explained through mutation and natural selection over the expanse of time, science is telling us that Charles Darwin’s theory has limited application. Whatever that limit turns out to be, it will come nowhere near drawing an ancestral connection between an amoeba and, say, Whoopi Goldberg. Such an expansive definition represents a pet theory of 19th-century progressives that is past its prime, propped up by logic fallacies, bogus claims and empirical evidence that is disintegrating under modern microscopy and discoveries in the areas of common descent, natural selection, the fossil record, biogeography, information theory, evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence and the growing intelligent-design movement. Evolution, in other words, is devolving.

Property — If private property is mentioned at all in this age of equity and social justice, there is the allusion of passive self-interest: “This is my property, not yours.” Rarely is there an understanding of the dynamic force contained in the absolute right to own property, beginning with one’s physical self. It is the basis of Western Civilization and capsulizes a moral teaching thousands of years old, an economic expression of the Golden Rule. That is, those who own property can appreciate the need to treat the property of others as they would want their own treated. Those who don’t, don’t. History does not speak kindly of societies that have operated outside that paradigm. 

Language — Lastly, there is language itself. Social scientists have been working for decades trying to prove that chimpanzees, porpoises, dogs (but interestingly not cats) can “talk,” can develop a language comparable to ours. By that it is meant not just sounds or communication but a language that allows abstract thought, the recording of measurements for later use, comprehension of space, time, etc. We are pleased to say that they have all but given up on all that. Nor have evolutionists been able to find evidence that speech is either hardwired into human brains or evolved like an opposing thumb and the like. The thinking now is that speech came to humans relatively suddenly as an artifact, i.e., something borrowed from nature to serve as a cultural tool such as the flint ax, the moldboard plow or algebra. The late Tom Wolfe argued that language is the original artifact of all of man’s artifacts, as in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”— tcl


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