Monday, January 14, 2019

Representative King and why it's imperative to employ precision in the use of language

You surely know the dustup that is causing the present consternation:

. . . a New York Times report published on Thursday quoted him seemingly defending white nationalism and white supremacy. During an interview with the New York Times reporter King asks, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”
Now, anybody, from any point on the ideological spectrum, right or left of center, would be understandably and rightly condemned for that utterance.

King attempted to clarify what he'd said in remarks on the House floor.

“One phrase in that long article has created an unnecessary controversy. That was my mistake, Mr. Speaker. And so I want to start this out with some context of that discussion. And that is this: If you can control the language, you can control the policy. Labels have been hurled in this country at people like we have never seen in this history of America,” King added.
He went on to, quite correctly, note that the Times was gunning for him, as evidenced by the title of the piece.

He said the title of the article, “Before Trump, Steve King Set the Agenda for the Wall and Anti-Immigrant Policies” was prejorative. “I have never been anti-immigrant, I have been anti-illegal immigrant, and I remain that way,” King stated.
Yes, every politician - every public figure, including celebrities - misspeaks and has to retract certain utterances. But one ought to be mindful of the track record one is compiling, so that when one's time comes, there's no baggage to answer for:

Over the last several months, the congressman has compiled a distressing record: endorsing the political campaign of a protest candidate for mayor of Toronto who appeared on a white-supremacist podcast and has repeated white-supremacist mantras; approvingly citing white nationalists on social media and, when pressed, refusing to admit error; and nodding to fringe tropes such as “cultural suicide by demographic transformation” that reduce the legitimate issue of national cohesion to an ugly exercise in racial bean-counting.
Just dandy, Representative King. At a time when it's crucial for the Republican Party to engage a wider array of demographic groups, you open the door to the identity-politics crowd being able to disseminate the notion that "Western civilization" is code for white supremacy. The West is already taking a beating in our nation's educational system.

And speaking of our educational system, it no longer inculcates post-Americans with an insistence on precise articulation of intended meaning. We obviously get no help from sloppy polemicists such as the Very Stable Genius or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and now it's clear that we really get no help from this Iowa Congressman.

You burned your bridge with your careless mouth, Congressman. The only value of this episode you caused is the cautionary example you've provided. Now go.



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