Words are essentially a collection of letters that together make sounds and are commonly understood to refer to a object, person, idea, thought, etc. (Please don't quote me on that, I am not Webster's Dictionary). Words have meaning. Over time, words that by themselves didn't mean anything specifically are then given meaning by historical events, such as the words "Affirmative Action" did not mean anything before the Civil Rights era gave them a specific meaning.
I have noticed that along with our regular vernacular, there are a whole bunch of "dirty words" in the English language. Now, I am not talking about the conventional swear or cuss word. I am referring to words that are used to insult or hurt a person or a group of people that otherwise shouldn't be insulting at all. Some of these words are used in certain circles or in discussion of certain political topics while others have become dirty words due to current events or past historical events that have attached negative connotations (and feelings) to them.
So let's review a few current "dirty words"that are thrown around the media:
Ah, yes. If you are a Republican or Conservative there is nothing worse than being called a liberal. It is a straight up insult! Just go into Google and put in the terms "Senator John McCain" + "liberal" and see how many right-wing political pundits are up in arms about McCain being the presumptive Republican nominee. This is ridiculous! Since when is it preposterous for a candidate or any politically active person have both conservative and liberal viewpoints?
And this dirty word is used on both sides of the political spectrum. Political pundits have also accused Senator Barack Obama as having "the most liberal voting record" in Washington. More liberal than any other Democratic nominee (well, it's only Hillary Clinton left...so his record is supposed to be more liberal than hers). What is liberal being equated to here? Is liberal supposed to mean unpatriotic? Does being liberal mean you just don't believe in God and in our savior, Jesus Christ? Does being a liberal mean that you just have no moral standards? I think not.
As proof of this, just pick an hour to channel surf between CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and the prime time cable news programs to see how often the word liberal is thrown around as something that one should be ashamed of being. I like to think of this dirty word to be equivalent to how women and girls accuse each other of being sluts. One woman will accuse another of being one...then a debate ensues where the accused must defend themselves against the title and prove (through some long list of personal merits, church attendance records, her upbringing, and statements on her commitment to her boyfriend/husband/community/family/ the environment/pets) that she is and could never be a slut. Yup, I think that analogy fits just right.
I missed the memo that came out after September 11th that all Muslims are extremists that are trying to kill all Americans (which includes me now...see previous post). I missed the second memo from George W. Bush that said that those Muslims that attacked us are in Iraq too. I think it's incredibly sad that the United States government has gone from being supported in their war against terrorism (do you remember how many countries stood in solidarity with us right after the attacks?) to being hated by most state governments for ignoring the UN and going to war with Iraq. Whatever happened to diplomacy? Whatever happened to going through the right channels and not undermining the international organizations put in place after WWII? This is why we are in this mess in the first place...
Anyways, somewhere along the way we Judeo-Christians became convinced that the whole nation of Islam was against us. Millions of Muslims became discriminated against and harassed for practicing their religion and wearing their traditional clothes. Many others were discriminated for just being Middle Easterners who looked like "one of them," regardless of whether they were Muslim or not. America was looking for someone to blame, to ostracize and demean for the actions that were committed against our country. We did everything short of establishing internment camps and locking up every Muslim in them - just like America did with Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. History almost repeated itself!
I personally do not know any Muslims...but I believe that they are just like any group of faith. Most people in any faith (about 99%) will be good, honest, hard-working individuals who love God, love their home, love their neighbors and are just trying to do the right thing every day. Then there is always a small percentage (1% or less) that ruins it for everyone and gets all the media attention. They are the ones with extreme beliefs and who see no contradiction between honoring their beliefs and killing innocent bystanders. Most Muslims are not bad people, just as most Christians and Jews are not.
Just turn on any of those news channels and see how some fear-mongering politicians are trying to spread rumors about Barack Obama being a Muslim....as if it is a bad thing to be. A picture was re-released this week of Obama in Kenya in 2006 wearing traditional clothes that were given to him as a gift. It's just clothes people. Wearing a turban doesn't make you a terrorist. This is probably one of the most non-threatening pictures on earth. If you are afraid of this picture, then you must have some serious disconnect from world cultures. Also, whoever is spreading this photo in order to get people to not vote for Obama is just a horrible human being. Shame on you! Shame on you for making Muslim a dirty word! You sir (or madame) have offended millions of Muslims around the world for insinuating that any politician that puts on a turban (or other traditional clothes) must be a terrorist or an anti-American.
I'm not even a Muslim and I am offended! Moving on...
Part 2 of "Dirty Words" will continue next week.....
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments!
~Jade, The Intern