To celebrate the end of a year in which we learned that words mean nothing anymore, let’s look at some of those words, and let’s start with “agency.” Apparently, it’s a very important thing to have, and very bad if one does not have it. But what is it? And what was it called before?
I ask the question and pass on.
For the book reviewers: Can you please stop with “luminous”?
No novel in the history of the world has been luminous.
Novels are not written in candles or in light-emitting diodes. And even if they were, that does not excuse it.
Book reviewers are supposed to uphold standards, not debase them.
“Luminous,” like most words did until this year, has a meaning. It is a respectable, upstanding adjective, which book reviewers have abused and tossed aside like a modifier of the night.
“This luminous object can be had at your bookstore for $29.99! If your town has a bookstore! If you can tear your eyes away from YouTube!”
Come on, book reviewers, come up with another one. How about “salacious”? Or “interesting”? Or “not as interesting as it would be if were salacious, but at least it’s not luminous”?
I observe and pass on.
“Liberal” has been a curse word in our republic for years, though not one in 100 Republicans could define what liberal democracy is. It’s just something to hate, whether we know what it is or not. There are many other words like that.
“Community organizer,” for example, have become curse words, and hate words, because Barack Obama was a community organizer before he became a state senator, a U.S. senator, then President of the United States.
As a reasonably happy and possibly sane member of our great republic, allow me to say: Community organizing is, and always has been, the basis of our country.
Read the Federalist Papers, the Articles of Confederation, Rousseau’s Social Contract, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Alexis De Tocqueville, Benjamin Franklin. They all say that the basis of freedom is community organizing.
But today, we are told, there is something wrong with it: as if we have outgrown, or transcended, the keystone of our republic. For the first days since Tail-Gunner Joe McCarthy drank himself to death, “community organizer” has become A Thing Of The Devil.
For the life of me I cannot see why. Perhaps it’s because I live in Vermont, where our neighbors, like them or not, are still our neighbors, and sometimes they need help.
We come to our final word — businessman: a sainted word in our benighted nation, so blessed by the gods. Today we are asked to believe that if businessmen ran the republic, and our lives, things would be so much better than letting community organizers do it.
Allow me to doubt it.
I know of no high crime or misdemeanor ever perpetrated by community organizers. Surely, some of their tired minions might have sipped an illegal dram or two in a union man’s house during the days of Prohibition, before collapsing exhausted onto a grimy floor. Or snatched a kiss here and there. But I see no reason to fear community organizers for this. I believe that community organizers, whether I agree with them or not, are acting in accord with, and in the highest interests of our republic.
Pardon me, then, if I propose that businessmen may not act in the highest interests of the republic so often as the community organizers do.
Pardon me again if I recall instances in which businessmen poisoned women and babies for a quick buck, lied to Congress, lied to the FBI, suborned perjury, murdered whistleblowers, bought legislatures, bought Congress, demanded war, sold poisons as cures, stole outright, and bought judges, prosecutors and juries to clear themselves of all these charges, not to mention adultery, lynching, and stealing from the public treasury.
Can anyone deny it?
Well, then. Long live the Republic.
Long live free enterprise too, and businessmen, and community organizers.
But please, let’s not call any of them luminous.