Edge of the west
Watch Your Mouth
By Scott Smith
Nov 2, 2008 - 12:25:00 PM

Words matter.  Even their pronunciation matters.

Take a word, any word, “nuclear” for instance. How much longer do we have to endure people in power mangling that word?  Sara Palin, learning from the same “English for Dummies” playbook that George W. Bush has mastered, now sits with her finger perched precariously close to the “nucular” button, not even knowing how to say the word. 

Does sloppy language= sloppy intellect= sloppy leadership?

Turns out there were no “nuculars” in Iraq and maybe if George Bush had been a little more diligent with the language, he’d have been a little more diligent with the policy. And maybe some 4,500 Americans and some million-or-so Iraqis would be a little more alive. 

The country that starts with the “I-r-a” and ends with the “q” never had the “nuculars” and gets attacked because they might have had them, while the country that starts with the “I-r-a” and ends with the “n,” clearly doesn’t have them but rushes to get them because they have been branded “evil” by the current American president, and wouldn’t you rush to get them if you were them? Especially when they hear Sara Palin say in no uncertain terms, day after day, that John McCain knows what “evil” is?

Words matter and “evil” is one that must be handled with care. Building an entire foreign policy around the fear of it brings to mind a few other words that may be appropriate —“shallow,” “arrogant,” and “stupid” come to mind.  

And there’s just plain somethin wrong with not puttin the “g” on the end of participles when it’s comin from someone who might soon be rulin the world. Annoyin, isn’t it?  Gotcha and do you think we could lose the folksiness for a minute and vice presidential candidates could start calling us “you” instead of “cha”? Well, some of you will say that’s how common folks talk, and that the writer is employing “elitist” banter, but since when did “elite” morph into such a bad thing? Could our American leaders, chosen for their wisdom, could they ever be even the slightest bit of “elite” anymore? We may be all craving a little “elite” right about now.

See, I don’t want to give my buddy over there at the Joker Bar on Pico the authority to come up with the solution to the national health care crisis just because he’s cool to throw back a couple of Buds with. This nation is staggering out of an 8-year kegger with Bush, who we put in there ostensibly because he’d be easier to have a beer with than the “elitists” —Al Gore (2000) and John Kerry (2004). Well now here we are, hiding the keys from “W” while he staggers home, with all of us bracing for the hangover that will have us rubbing our heads for years.

Words matter.

Like “kill.” Not a word you want bantered about at hate-filled, right wing campaign rallies directed at young black candidates for the presidency of the United States of America. At McCain-Palin events, when either of them goes off into their fear-mongering, citing Obama’s “terrorist” ties, shout-outs from the crowd of “kill him” have been heard, and aside from the yahoos who yell it being a prime example of my “stupidity-is-the-heart-of-evil” theory, it is a bone-chilling reminder of the danger this candidate’s life is in every day out there. And it is a bone-chilling reminder of America’s most shameful litany of words:  John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Robert F. Kennedy.

The New York Times recently quoted McCain-Palin supporters in Alabama. “Come as one. Don’t create other breeds,” said Ricky Thompson, a pipe-fitter.  James Halsey, environmental clean-up worker: “He’s going to tear up the rose bushes and plant a watermelon patch.”  And just for good measure, here’s Bud Rowell, retired oil field worker: “I’ve always been against the blacks.”

These people live amongst us.

As this election on November 4, closes in on us, a vast majority of white American citizens have the chance to step forward and shout up to that mountaintop that the Reverend King so painstakingly scaled. To Barack Obama and all black brothers and sisters, at long last it can and must be shouted: “We’ve got your back.”

 It’s been too long in coming, everybody knows, but right here, right now, as the young Democratic candidate says, this is the time. This is our time.



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