Sticks and stones may break bones, but words are natural born killers. Words can kill careers, relationships, and opportunities. The graveyard of political correctness is filled with the corpses of rodeo clowns and Southern chefs felled by various ‘ist’ and ‘isms’.
We learn this lesson at a very early age. How many parents have had their little cherub return home from a play date or a day of school and share a “brand new word” which the parent has gone to great lengths to keep the child from hearing, or especially from learning? To make matters worse, the child is often unaware of the definition of the new word they have mastered. This forces the parent to enter into a conversation they would much prefer not to have with their child – especially at such a young age. The explanation and resulting realization ends in a death of sorts. Just as in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened after partaking of the Tree of Good and Evil, the child’s natural innocence also dies a little.
Children do not inherently know the meaning of the word itself, but they intuitively pick up on the meaning behind the word, because it is not the word, it is the intent that is the issue. Jesus Himself said, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22) “Raca” is an old Aramaic term meaning “vain, empty, or worthless.” It seems to be derived from a term that means “to spit.” The Jews of Jesus’ day used it as an insult, but there is no historical proof to support the theory that ‘Raca’ had to be referenced as “the R-word” in print or in politically correct conversation. The more familiar derogative “fool” is in vogue even today (and, incidentally, is the reason my parents never allowed me to watch an episode of The A-Team when I was a child. Way to go, Mr. T). As a former elementary schoolteacher, I have never heard one child shout the word “raca,” but seldom a recess passed without a student using any of a variety of modern pejoratives.
Today’s playground tots have many more ugly and hurtful words in their verbal arsenal, yet there is still not one quite like the timeless tag “cootie” for its simple construction, yet amazing ability to get under a small child’s skin. The two-syllable structure of “cootie” enables it to be drawn out and emphasized in a sing-songy manner and its phonetic acoustics allow it to carry over long distances. Though “cootie” may sound awfully close to “cutie,” children intuitively infer they are not the same. Even if they have no clue what a cootie actually is, kids know, whatever it is, they don’t want it – and they definitely do not want their fellow classmates to even suspect they have it. It is the exceptionally mature child who can laugh off such a ridiculous accusation and thereby thwart its intended effect.
The purpose of such a verbal attack is to isolate, belittle and disparage. The evil beauty of such an accusation is that it is impossible to disprove. All the child can do is plaintively wail, “I do not.” Sadly, as we grow up, the ones among us with evil intent seldom change their ways. They just master more ruthless and efficient methods. Because adults would rightly laugh to scorn another adult pointing a finger at an individual and yelling, “Cooties!” a more age appropriate word must be selected and weaponized.
The Left obviously feels the most deadly weapon in the adult verbal arsenal is the word “racist.” The way this accusation has been so baselessly and infuriatingly overused would have neutered its effectiveness long ago if were we living in a world of mature adults. If a ‘usage tax’ was placed on the word “racist,” we could pay off the national debt. The irrationality and inconsistency with which this word is thrown around reveals the hypocrisy and dishonesty of those who employ it. The Left’s mantra is “Racism from thee, not from me – or anyone that furthers the Progressive agenda.” That is why pointing out the obvious double standard is ineffective. The intent of the Left is not to point out a wrong or correct an error, it is to gain a desired reaction from the accused and halt productive debate.
So, how do we deal with such dishonest attacks? We must follow a similar course of action as what we would advise for the child facing cootie accusations. After all, those on the Left are on the same emotional development level as the bully on the playground. While we cannot just ignore the accusation, we simply must not grant those on the Left the reaction they so desire. Dissolving into a state of hysteria by protesting that we “have friends who are fill-in-the-blank” and then apologizing “if we have offended anyone” is exactly the reaction the Left seeks, expects, and, far too often, receives. Playing the “friend card” gives credence to the attack and apologizing is, at best, a tacit admittance of guilt. All the while, we are on the defensive and essentially neutralized.
Godfather of the Left and Obama mentor, Saul Alinsky’s fifth Rule for Radicals states “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” It is indefensible, irrational and infuriating. The only way to counter it is to outdo it. We must take the verbal grenade that is being lobbed at us, ridicule it, and toss it right back. The false accusations lose their sting when we refuse to be stung. We must remember that laughter and ridicule is kryptonite to the bullies on the Left. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted from our mission by little Leftists who cry, “Cooties!”