“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Much has been waxed, wroth and poetic, about that phrase since it was first penned by Edwin Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. At first blush, it is a sterling statement as to the power of the written word; to entertain, to persuade, to transport the minds of men into other shoes and allow them to walk roads previously unknown and unknowable.
At second blush – and second blushes are best blushes, since they are so unexpected – it is a testament to the ability to control. The sword can only kill a man; the pen can make him into something fit to make his mother cringe in horror.
Words are thought. Language makes up so much of who we are and how our brains work that a native language can be expressed with not merely a linguistic accent, but also a physical accent. Blind humans who have never seen the common body language of the speakers of their native language, will both use physical gestures to communicate and will also use similar gestures as those who can see them. Words are not merely things of our lips and tongue; they go down to the bone.
The ability to control the words of others is a blueprint to change their very thoughts. Society is rife with examples of altering what words mean or which words must be used in an effort to steer the conversation. Gun “safety”. Pretty much all of the media coverage of Trump’s campaign. The loss of perfectly functional terminology and colloquialisms: “-splainin'”, racist, fascist, liberal, feminist, Nazi.
Remember the push to stop calling people illegal aliens? It doesn’t matter which word one uses as much these days, as it’s all been lumped under the broad tent of immigration, of which one is either for or against. And being against immigrants makes the Statue of Liberty cry. You meanie.
We’re not banning homeless people, gods bless you sir, no! We’re just banning urban camping. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Insidious propaganda is insidious.
When words have been altered, taken – molded, primped, shoved into a tight dress and forced to pimp themselves on the streets for their masters – there often comes a push-back. Satire, mocking and Poe’s Law come into play. Frequently, the objects of this linguistic assault retake the word by embracing it and celebrating it. Pick the derogatory demographic slur, activists and cultural music will use it in earnest if given time.
This is not always as effective as intended. If in doing so we accept the new interpretation foisted upon us by those who seek to control the conservation, embracing a slur as a badge of honor is to win the battle but lose the war
Remember, the good football tackle doesn’t aim for the shoulders. Aim for the knees.
The first return for nationalism offers a definition as patriotic feeling, principles, or efforts. Wikipedia first line on it is: Nationalism is a complex, multidimensional concept involving a shared communal identification with one’s nation. Dictionary.com’s first two definitions are 1)
Google Trends shows that searches for nationalism have followed an identifiable pattern since 2004. Searches peak in November-ish and again in the spring before falling to an apathetic doldrum by summer. Searches have been trending upward since the summer of 2012, and sharply upward since spring of 2016.
You know what else follows that pattern? Election coverage in the MSM. And maybe searches for the weather too, sometimes the pattern isn’t as important as first blushes imply.
It would make sense that the language of the nation is particularly captured by nationalism when electing its national leaders. For the concept described in the aforementioned definitions, one can find it culturally expressed by the immortal Lee Greenwood, and no wonder politicians are so fond of borrowing nationalism’s evocative imagery.
What a surprise it must have been to the average voter to find the word in the media as a derogatory slur. Being a nationalist was bad and basically like Nazis. (TW: Scare quote abuse. It’s brutal.) Nationalism is gonna getchoo. It’s quite confusing, because sometimes it might not be bad? Context and qualifiers are key to understanding, since white nationalism is… well, you’d think it would be nationalists who are also white but let’s see what Wikipedia has to say this time.
White nationalism is a type of nationalism or pan-nationalism which holds the belief that white people are a race and seeks to develop and maintain a white national identity. Its proponents identify with and are attached to the concept of a white nation.
Well, that escalated quickly.
As a propaganda tool, it couldn’t have a worse basis in logic. Every redneck, pool player, bar rowdy and biker who ever closed out Karaoke Night with a communal Greenwood sign-along for all those left standing hears the message loud and clear: Look, nationalism is bad enough, but if you’re white and a nationalist, you’re this guy.
Say it insistently and often enough, and what’s the logical reaction? A hue and cry of white Americans shouting as one diversity-approved voice, “No! And we say again – no! We reject our heritage and traditional ideals, and the very familiarity bias with which all humans are afflicted, if the only other option is to be that guy!”
My word. It is to laugh. Some of them will just shrug and say, “I guess, sure, if that’s what it means now, then I must be a white nationalist.” In a linguistic climate which seeks to normalize the idea that being born pale says all it needs about the content of one’s character, whites have been called worse and it’s exhausting to try to correct the barrage. Plenty attempt to argue, but true thinkers know that this is just the rationalization of lesser minds at work and pay no heed. Heeding would be actively harmful, in fact, since the white voice is over-used and the construct of whiteness is complicit in oppression.
Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive. It likely would have been more accurate and fostered proper communication to describe Richard Spencer et al. as white-nationists. That might not have served the correct interests, however, and branding white nationalism dove-tails so handily with the efforts to cultivate racism as an actual significant problem, useful to those who would control us all.
Reject it. This land is our land, and those words are our words. It’s a fucked-up land, to be sure; like an old broken-in boot – comfortable, ugly as sin but still bringing a sigh to your lips when the worn leather molds around you knowingly, as few things can. We’ve stepped in shit more than we meant to. These things happen to us all, we’re only human. The soles are sturdy yet, though, and there’s life left in the good leather and craftsmanship.
Globalism is a fine concept when it comes to marketplaces. When it comes to ethereal communal ties, telling people they aren’t allowed to enjoy particularly the land of their birth is akin to an announcement that following any one NFL team is discriminatory and verboten. Good luck with that strategy. Let us know how it works out. American society is highly and vehemently tribalized. It’s astonishing that people can be reliant on tribal ties in virtually every aspect of society, from politics to clothes and wine, and yet a familiarity bias for the country we were trained to pledge allegiance to is the one tie it ought to be unthinkable to feel.
Unthinkable? It’s practically reflexive. Are we trying to give people a complex?
Much like immigration is now a broad subject one can only be for or against, nationalism is being used as a linguistic tool, a buzzword to steer the conversation. White-nationists such as Richard Spencer have been vaulted to the limelight as the media cries wolf about scary racists/nationalist for their own ends. This is how easily we are distracted from the real work at hand. We cannot do what we should be doing, we cannot talk about what needs to be addressed, because we are too busy discussing the will-o’-the-wisps the mainstream media and politicians would have us chasing. Just because someone has offered you poison, doesn’t mean you have to drink it.