How much can you blame Whoopi Goldberg? The very language we all use has been irradiated until it produces mutant offspring. It’s a process that’s been going on for a long time.
Let’s take an old example. When the word “rights” was used by America’s founding generation, it meant something very specific. The rights listed at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence and in the Bill of Rights refer to things that “Nature’s God” endows us with — our life, our liberty, and our drive to pursue happiness by employing our properties, both of talent and of material wealth.
But by the end of the 19th century, those on the Left were working hard to sell the public on a different meaning of the word. Their program aimed to take power away from the common people and give it instead to their approved experts. But how could the people be persuaded to give their rights away? Even in the age of COVID, we can see that many people choose their own liberties — we hope still a majority — over approved government expertise. Just look north to the streets of Ottawa to see that.
So the Left decided to rephrase their program as really a program of rights and freedoms as well. And it has been quite successful. Abortion rights, the right to medical care, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — they’re all part of the leftist agenda, yet they sound as if they are the same sort of thing that Jefferson, Adams, and Washington stood for.
Yet every one of those left-endorsed freedom refers to something that comes at the expense of someone else. One is not born with medical care — people have to provide that. The only way that can be made a “right” for everyone is by forcing other people to provide it. The same is true for freedom from want — we are not all born with wealth. Unless we work for it or we get it from others, we won’t have it. Force will come into the picture. And, of course, to provide a right to abort requires removing the most elemental of all rights from the human who is aborted.
This perversion of language is manipulative and dishonest — at least it was for those who forced the mutation. Those who merely inherited the dishonesty unaware are not to blame, but their mutated language continues its toxic work, irradiating the discussions that we have as a nation and turning them cancerous.
That’s at the bottom of L’Affaire Whoopi. The Left has for decades been irradiating the term racism. We who fought against the state-sponsored and enforced segregationist system of the Democrat South and who embraced wholeheartedly Martin Luther King Jr.’s mighty dream of an America in which people would be judged for the content of their character rather than the color of their skin — we know what racism means and we hate it for the noxious poison that it is.
But for a long time now, people have tried to appropriate the virtue of that supremely worthy cause by perverting the meaning of the word and attaching it to causes that are meretricious at best and increasingly malevolent and perverse at worst. See, for instance, how the recently woke Anti-Defamation League was defining racism on its website just before Whoopi had her whoops moment: “The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.”
By this perverse, radioactive definition, only one type of people can be the victims of racism and the responsibility for the crime belongs exclusively to one race.
And because that has been the way the intersectional, woke Left has been so consistently using the word, then it very naturally follows for her that though the Holocaust certainly wasn’t very nice, it was not racist.
The problem, of course, is that for Hitler and so many others, racism had a much more universal meaning. For them, inherited characteristics in general, and race in particular, are the most important thing about us. And while Hitler and his gang despised black people as inferior and polluters of the gene pool, they shared that opinion about many other identifiable ethnicities, such as Slavs, Romany, and of course, Jews.
Hatred seeks cover under the dominant concerns of the day. In the Middle Ages, religion dominated and hatred would seek religious cover. It justified the bloody extermination of the Albigensians, or the choice the Almohades gave to all they conquered of their religion or death. And of course, it was behind one thousand years of persecution and death for Jews.
With the end of the Middle Ages, God was gradually but surely pushed to the cultural sidelines. The new center of allegiance was Science. And thus, we find that as we move into the 19th century, black slavery began to be defended as a proper and useful relationship between the superior, scientific white race and the inferior, primitive black race. Prior to that, slavery had largely been defended as a remnant that would disappear in due time but in the meantime had been grandfathered into the Constitution.
As the 19th century moved forward, Charles Darwin’s new theory powered the growth of a host of perverse and hateful ideologies that were based in science in the same way that the tortures of the Inquisition were based on the Biblical command to love your neighbor. In the world of industrial scientism, the new goal of all endeavors was not the perfected soul, to which all could aspire, but the perfected gene pool, with membership restricted. The eugenics movement arose, earnestly campaigning that the bearers of inferior genes should not procreate. Margaret Sanger, the mother of Planned Parenthood, targeted black people and others considered to be racial inferiors to minimize their reproductive capabilities through contraception and, eventually, abortion. Many American states passed laws allowing or compelling sterilization for those who failed their definition of minimal intelligence or mental health. Perhaps the ultimate example of this was the cutting out of the brains of people the “science” designated as needing such an operation — the frontal lobotomies that were considered cutting-edge science for a while.
Hitler took all this to its extreme conclusion. His anti-Semitism was not a hatred of a religious creed; beliefs after all can be switched. God for him was not the object of belief but was really only the process of the survival of the fittest working itself out over time. Those most apt at survival alone deserved to live and procreate. Those whose power proved inferior by losing the power struggle had no rights whatsoever. This struggle was all that was real; God was only this earth-bound process. The idea of a God who made all humanity in the divine image and who taught transcendent moral responsibility was a fraud invented by the Jews to trick the powerful into submission.
This lie, Hitler preached, had to be eliminated because its power was so great. The race that used the power of the lie of morality had to be exterminated so the Master Race could never again be thwarted.
But all this was something as foreign to Whoopi as Urdu poetry. The people who subverted the meaning of racism find the reality of historical racism too deep and complex to suit their aggressive political program. For them, that depends on generating the antagonism of targeted ethnic groups against others. Rationality for them is dangerous; transcendent morals can’t be controlled; the last thing they want is an honest, complex discussion that brings about reconciliation and a deeper and larger shared identity.
The only people who pervert language are those afraid of an honest discussion. They are afraid that people might learn and grow and come to their own conclusions. They are afraid that the people they claim as their clients might no longer be dependent on them. They do not want them to clarify and verify their principles through real give and take with others.
In the wake of Whoopi, some digital crusaders aimed a spotlight on the Anti-Defamation League’s bent definition of racism. And, wondrously, even that once-great organization reversed course. And although they offered an unconvincing rationalization for their previous definition, they now do offer a definition closer to the truth: “Racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity.” That’s more like it.
We believe in real freedom and genuine rights and we believe in a national community steeped in a culture of responsibility rather than privilege. All who believe that racism and bigotry destroy that culture of responsibility and the peace, prosperity, and creativity that it alone can generate, will defend language. We know what is at stake. Truth is on our side. Help keep the language clear so truth can shine forth.