Saturday, April 15, 2023

April 15, 2023
The brink of collapse

    There are clear signs that American society is in danger of a fall from which it will not recover.  One indicator is the continuing cost of our love affair with firearms.
    Another school shooting occurred on March 27 in Nashville.  There the attacker fired 152 rounds, killing three 9-year-old students and three adults.  The awfulness of that incident was enhanced by the fact that it is only one in an endless series.  Before we could absorb the horror of that event, another mass shooting occurred on April 10, this time in Louisville, where five people were killed at a bank where the shooter worked.   According the The Gun Violence Archive, there have been 155 mass shootings in the U.S. this year.[13]
      Perhaps the ultimate demonstration of the gun menace occurred in Newport News, Virginia on January 6, where  a six year old child brought a gun from his home to school and shot his teacher.
    In a rational world, such events would cause us to conclude that, since we cannot remain peaceful and safe with so many guns in private hands, we should start limiting that number and restricting their use and availability. However, the Republican response to these shootings has been, for the most part, indifference or active worsening,
    Taking another step toward the edge, Governor DeSantis of Florida signed a bill on April 3 which allows carrying a concealed gun without a permit.[14]  Again, this development is made worse by its not being original.  Florida becomes the twenty-sixth state to allow that.  In Kentucky. a bill to make that state a “Second Amendment sanctuary” has been enacted; it prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing “any federal laws or regulations enacted on guns, ammunition and accessories since Jan. 1, 2021.”[15] 
    Right on cue, the NRA convention opened, with potential Republican presidential candidates in attendance.


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Monday, April 3, 2023

April 2, 2023

    The constant use of “woke” by the right as a way of describing the evils of liberalism is an indication of their lack of real ideas and of desperation.  However, it’s also a sad reminder of how debased our political discourse has become.
    Although “woke” is tossed around so casually as to become meaningless, it has been defined.  When I first came across it in 2018,
[10] I found that The Urban Dictionary advised us that “Being Woke means being aware. . . Knowing what[‘]s going on in the community.”  More recently. Merriam Webster offered this definition:  “aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” However, its current use has less to do with definition than with political warfare; it is used merely as an all-purpose insult and declaration of virtue.
    A thoughtful recent article by Solomon D. Stevens
[11] noted that “woke” is used to refer to a baffling  range of perceived social or political sins. Because of that muddle, “[t]he word ‘woke’ has no clear meaning, but to those who use it to condemn others, that doesn’t matter because the word is just a way of announcing one’s membership in a kind of club or gang.  It is a culture war badge.”
    Stevens refers to George Orwell’s 1945 essay “Politics and the English Language.” 

    Orwell points out that when we use sloppy, imprecise language, our thinking becomes sloppy and imprecise. In that respect, he says, our words can be both a cause and an effect. Our language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” And that is the problem with using the word “woke.”
     Orwell noted that much writing in his day was characterized by “staleness of imagery” and “lack of precision.”  One falling into such habits may be “almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not.”[12]  So with the use of “woke.”  As Stevens puts it, “It is “employed to vilify others; ‘they’ are not simply wrong, they are enemies of civilization. Those who are ‘woke’ are portrayed as a threat to everything decent and good.”   It is a variation on the old theme on the right that liberals are not real Americans.


10. See my note of October 6, 2018
12. “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell: Essays, Everyman’s Library (2002), p.956

Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day