Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More on hate words and inflammatory rhetoric

I'm afraid that my previous post wasn't very clear, so I'll try to say what I meant in a more direct way.

The establishment – in the academic world, the media, finance and politics – has lost touch with the people. Let's remember, for example, the scorning words of the presidential candidate Obama about those back country folks holding to their religion and their guns to fight their sense of insecurity. He presented himself as the bearer of new tidings, but actually he was the topmost exponent of that establishment. So he paid lip service to religion, and even presented himself as a kind of savior of the country… from whom? Well, it is easy, from itself.

What does the establishment hold against the people? Well, Obama said it: not to give up guns and religion.

And why should they? It could be asked. Guns are dangerous, you could say, but religion? Why does it offend the establishment? Tough question, hard to answer.

Let me try to do it by recalling the peculiarity of American experience compared to Europe.

The United States of America were formed by affirming the primacy of society over against the state, which had taken in Europe a sovereign character. This implied the power of the state to make laws, as an absolute power, not tied to any superior sense of justice and the law; not tied, most of all, to ancient customs grounded on Christian religion. Getting rid of this had been in Europe the way for the new bourgeois establishment to supersede the old monarchical and aristocratic one, which had rather made of religion an instrumentum regni. Not so in America, where religion was free from the state, so that Protestant Catholic and Jews all contributed to the making of "the American way of life" as a kind of civil religion (as used to say an old professor of mine: Will Herberg).

Since many decades, though, a europeanizing new establishment has grown in America, tending, as in Europe, to dissolve religious ties to subordinate society to the state: an establishment that considered itself enlightened, because it substituted to the alleged divisiveness coming from differences of religion, culture, race and sex, the equality of all people (no longer, mind me, men and women) before the law made by the state. Substituting the God of the old religion, this becomes then the great equalizer.

So, holding to their equality in God, and just in God, the people offend the establishment, as being ungrateful for all the benefices it brought to them.

Ok, you could legitimately ask, what does all this have to do with what you spoke about in the previous post?

Well, religion contributed to keep people passably virtuous, held families together, made for good neighborhood, etcetera. Sure, there has been in America the problem of slavery, with its aftermath of racial discrimination. But also this seemed to be on the way to be solved, in a religious way, thanks to leaders like the reverend Martin Luther King.

Making religion irrelevant, the establishment followed another way: exclusively that of law. Or of a law like etiquette that prohibited the use of certain words. To the point of wanting to expurgate classics. And it doesn't matter that Mark Twain, while using the word nigger, showed niggers to be people just as the whites!

Not teaching virtue, but erasing words from the vocabulary is for the establishment, self styled liberal, the way to keep people good.

This has made on the opposite side the word liberal to become itself a slandering one. That's why, as I said, I'd rather not use it. Even though I consider the establishment I am speaking about tyrannical. Also because it kills, with other virtues, that which makes people capable of rational conversation.

Instead of conversation, such an establishment only knows outrage, before whatever popular use of language it disapproves, or it finds convenient to disapprove.

If I said that all liberals should be shot, it is a metaphoric hyperbole. If someone else singled them out through the sight of a rifle, again it is a metaphor for wanting them kicked out of office, and as such all sane people take it.

Should we then think that banning words and metaphors would save us from prejudice and crazies? I don't believe it.

Besides, let the man without sins throw the first stone. I mean, liberals have not refrained from slandering conservatives, or abstained from bellicose metaphors.


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