‘Why can’t human beings live simply and naturally?’ The trouble is that, as Susan K. Langer has said, ‘The symbol-making function is one of man’s primary activities. . .It is the fundamental process of the mind, and it goes on all the time.’
S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action
If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for, even if it isn’t there.
Having failed to distinguish thoughts from things, we then fail to distinguish words from thoughts. We think that if we can label a thing we have understood it.
Maha Sthavira Sangarakshita
Do you trust Fox News as one of the few truth-tellers in a web of liberal propaganda? Or do you despise it because it is a propaganda organ for racists and worshippers of Trump?
Today you get to read about both sides and…yes, decide for yourself.
The truth is out there.
I recently came upon Megan Garber’s attack piece “Do You Speak Fox?”
Megan is not a linguist, and her lay observations are belabored and arbitrary (gimme a break — Donald Trump, liberty, and anarchy are listed in the lexicon of “Fox language”). The whole piece is disingenuous, assuming, as a given, that since Fox is creating an “alternate reality,” then its language must reflect that.
Circular and biased
Thoroughly critiquing the piece would take another whole post, but suffice it to say that all of her points stem from this one unfounded assumption, so she rambles on, proving her points in a circular, just-so fashion.
Maps and territories
The piece is lacking in sophistication because it assumes that only the liberal account of reality is the correct one. In the vocabulary of general semantics, the nation is bitterly divided over different “maps” (i.e., word maps, language) for the same “territory” (i.e., America and its history).
Thinking in black and white
Never considered is the idea that Megan and The Atlantic proceed from their own bias. That’s a huge blind spot. The truth is that both perceived realities have a measure of validity, but people are encouraged – no, make that “brainwashed” — to think in black-and-white, either-or terms, and so we have the current chaos.
Language abuses of the left
Now we come to the supreme irony of attacking the “language” of Fox News: the aggressively predominant mode of speech, as enforced by almost every institution in society, Is left/liberal.
It is liberals who are obsessed with gender identity, pronouns, censoring literature, trigger-words, gender-free/ politically correct language, and long lists of things you can and cannot say, with new language taboos every day (I recently heard Amy Coney Barrett chided during her confirmation hearing because she referred to a sexual “preference.” No no no – it’s innate, you bigot.).
It is liberals who are calling for the “deprogramming” of their opponents and attempting to control thought and behavior by controlling language.
Is Fox so wrong when, as Garber says, it talks in terms of “we” and “they”? Insofar as there is any distinction between the two state-approved parties, the liberals are on offense, pushing far more aggressively to increase the size of the government and multiply its interventions in our lives.
It is liberals who make up bogeymen like “white supremacy” (a tiny percentage, whom Democrats like to demonize, thus provoking them further) and “systemic racism.”
In a country where Blacks occupy positions of authority at every level of government?
If you want to see racial supremacy and systemic racism, try China, where people of the wrong race get put in concentration camps and forcibly sterilized.
In real life, the reality precedes the word. You can’t just (i) make up words and assume they refer to something we can all agree on – and then (ii) put them into an arbitrary cause-and-effect relationship with other words in a way that suits your political purposes. That’s double deception.
Well, actually you can, as with the previous two examples, but it’s dishonest and manipulative.
The brilliant, contrarian economist Thomas Sowell has shown with facts and data that Black people’s lives before welfare were improving by every significant measure – marriage rates, education and income levels, and so on. He notes that in the 1940s Black kids in Harlem were achieving test scores comparable to those of working-class White kids on the Lower East Side.
Blaming white supremacy for Blacks’ woes is “propaganda,” Sowell says. “If you go back into the 1920s, you find that married-couple families were much more prevalent among Blacks. As late as 1930, Blacks have lower unemployment rates than Whites.”
Sowell and others argue that it is welfare that has been the ruination of Blacks. This is the truth that you arrive at if you look at the facts and really believe that Black lives matter.
Critique of the left
Fox’s words do gibe with reality when it comes to characterizing the opposition.
Many Democrats do respond to any criticism of their beliefs and actions with accusations of “racism” or “bigotry.” This is abundantly documented in print and electronic media, month after month.
Liberal Democratic policies almost always do involve more government and less liberty. I listen to their proposals and cannot find one that does not.
Democrats’ social policies do routinely ignore the second half of “live and let live.” See preceding paragraph.
Democrats and their lackeys do cancel and obliterate those who disagree with them. They remove them from social-media platforms. (Garber says she doesn’t know what “cancel culture” means.” As The Prez. would say, C’mon, man!).
Democrats do trash and violate the First Amendment. Look at the consequences that have befallen those who exercise their right to free speech and to – gasp! – criticize Democrats.
It’s just like the good ol’ USSR, where they tore pages out of history books and wouldn’t let you own a typewriter or a mimeograph machine. This is what tyrants do.
Those are the facts
These are verifiable facts, not products of Fox News’ delusions, as Garber suggests.
Ms. Garber should write an equally long piece skewering liberal language abuse. The fact that she will not shows the supposedly agenda-free publication’s loathing for all things Fox.
All the king’s horses and all the King’s men…
If we are ever to put this country back together again, then each side must accept the partial validity of the other’s world-view. Where disagreements cannot be ironed out by orderly debate, go back to the relevant underlying facts and data, as in Sowell’s powerful examples.
That’s how we get to a mutual understanding of what’s true and what’s real.