Assaults on our enlightened democracy come so frequently these days that before you can absorb one mind blow, another slams you in the cortex. And they come from within this great land of ours. In case you haven’t heard, Dimwit Donald and his AltRight goons launched last week another sneak attack on Western Civilization and its institutions, this time on our own nation’s Center for Disease Control, of all bodies. They banned seven English words from the Center’s discourse. They are:
1. Fetus. Why? Just guessing, but I suppose it’s so we don’t differentiate a fetus from an out-of-the womb baby—part of their anti-abortion campaign.
2. Vulnerable. Puzzling, this one. Maybe it’s a subtle tactic in the coming defunding of the CHIPS program that addresses the health needs of nine million poor children. They are surely vulnerable.
3. Diversity. No surprise here. That’s a naughty word to Trumpenproles. It suggests there are Americans who are not WASP descendants of transported felons and religious dissenters. We know better.
4. Transgender. Obvious, this one. There is no such thing. And if there is, there shouldn’t be.
5. Entitlement. A favorite sleight-of-word trick beloved of Republicans everywhere. In this enduring grand scam, they want to con you into believing the social programs you spend your working life paying into are really allowances they give you from the wealth they manage, stipends subject to cuts at their whim. Cover your backsides now for what’s in the planning stage.
6.-7. Science-based and Evidence-based. A no-brainer. Modern medicine rests its case. Science, and its method, has brought us healing wonders never dreamt of just decades ago, and to impede its progress now is sheer idiocy and a threat to our wellbeing. Yet that is precisely what Trump and his band of know-nothings are doing in their ongoing war on science, demonizing findings that stray beyond Biblical limits.
We should remind ourselves that language is the taproot of culture. Our language, English, is not only the wellspring of our culture, and our success, but it has become the world’s default language, the go-to tongue for art, commerce and science. It has also been “weaponized” by the Trump regime in its war on learning generally, but science particularly. No surprise that this war is clumsily waged. What would you expect from a leader whose vocabulary is that of a fourth-grader and command of grammar is less than that of a sixth grader? A guy whose “prose” is a leash of misspellings, run-on sentences, Byzantine punctuation, and dead-horse diction that relies bigly on three fuzzy adjectives—“incredible,” “tremendous,” “fantastic.” Believe me.
Will English survive Trump’s reign? I think so. Deliverance for it and us is on the way in the person of Robert Mueller and his relentless inquisitors. And odds-on, Herr Reichsleiter will be found guilty of crimes against more than language and science. We will welcome Judgment Day and its verdict—guilty of all charges. But will our Dear Leader? Not likely. And how about his friends at “Fox and Friends?” A hard-sell, for sure.
Let’s try anyway, but with an approach suggested many years ago by a true mistress of our beloved language:
Tell all the truth but tell it slant—
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
Tell all the truth but tell it slant--
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —