Trump, Goebbels and 7 Words
“Tyranny cannot defeat the power of ideas.” — Helen Keller
Trump continues to move in a direction that feels like a soft shoe toward a dictatorship. It’s less obvious than Hitler yet just as insidious. Divide and conquer. Create a class of less worthy. Vilify free thought. Persecute and belittle those who no longer qualify as good Americans. Create laws that make basic human rights illegal.
This is the new America. It’s a slow roll so it’s hard to see the change but from where we were a year ago and where we are today is disturbingly un-American and crossing back over bridges that I thought had been, thankfully, burned. Philip Roth got it right in The Plot Against America and all the dystopian novels I’ve filled my brain with are becoming reality versus dystopia. Who would have ever thought that the Biff-led world in Back to the Future would be a rosier view of our near term future than is playing out in America as we move onto year two of our fearless and well empowered President of the United States.
Just seven words — banned for use by the CDC in their 2019 budget planning. And why? Why ban any words?
I suppose Trump has never used a Thesaurus to know how hopeless this effort is. Nonetheless, this Emperor-who-has-no-clothes persists.
Banning these words won’t stop the research or the thinking that surround these words.
Vulnerable. We’ll still be vulnerable. And we’ll say it in so many other ways. We’ll come up with the next word that packs more of a punch. Kind of like when I was growing up and shoot was almost a “cuss word” and now Fuck is common parlance.
Entitlement. It will be nice to come up with words to work around entitlement. We can talk, instead, about the money that people have invested in their future that will be returned to them. To the taxes that we pay to the state and how that benefits people by various social systems. This word, though, is the scariest. Our Constitution is our biggest entitlement.
Diversity. I guess we’ll just have to list all the different options relative to a situation versus call out the intent — i.e. diversity. The documents will be longer and full of descriptions of the words that are meant to be shorthand to the longhand definitions.
Transgender. Instead we’ll talk about people who have chosen a different gender than the one that they were born with. Can you imagine the cut and paste effort? I guess that, unlike our regulatory documents, the CDC documents will increase in length by a healthy multiple when they need to refer to certain concepts.
Fetus. Yes, we are going to skip a developmental stage in life and no longer refer to the time period when an embryo moves to be a viable life as a fetus. I wonder, can the CDC talk about a fetal stage of development? Like “after the eighth week, an embryo moves to a fetal stage of development” versus “after the eight week an embryo becomes a fetus.” I feel like then the word that would have been banned would be embryo. Maybe that’s still to come.
Evidence-based. Science-based. This may be the most semantic of them all. Simply talking about outcome based on science or evidence. The proposal being to make sure that there’s mention of subjective input used to draw conclusions.
It’s clear that the words, alone, don’t pose danger. But, put together, it’s obvious that there is an intent to narrowing the definition of what is important to the United States. What we deem valuable to focus on and what we do not. My conclusion — and it’s just mine — is that this is a deeply disturbing step of an increasingly more controlling leader.
Banning these words say that:
- We now consider that life starts the minute of conception and that we’ll stop differentiating between an embryonic and fetal stage of life. And there will be many crimes now associated with ending that life.
- Not all people matter. That “some pigs are more equal than others” to paraphrase George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
- Diversity isn’t important - homogeneity is.
- We no longer should consider that we have rights relative to a contract or law. Eek, that we have no rights. That negates the Constitution. So, the reference document for what we hang our very freedom on is at risk because it is our most fundamental entitlement.
- We should draw conclusions that we wish versus what science or evidence indicates. Heck, this can extend to whether someone commits a crime or not — since DNA is both science and evidence and is often used to decide innocence or guilt. It means that there is no climate change because we use data and evidence and science to draw this conclusion.
Welcome to the new America. In seven short words we’ve lost access to our basic Constitutional rights. And since the Constitution is an entitlement we can’t reference it, now, to talk about the loss of our First Amendment rights. I mean, when the Constitution falls then so do our rights to be diverse. The very loss of these words makes us vulnerable — and the loss of that word our mouths are sewn shut.
It’s just seven words. But if you take them in a different order and apply logic to them, as soon as we no longer can refer to entitlements — our biggest being the Constitution — there is nothing else because then all the rules can be changed.
It’s 1984. It’s 1930. Orwell. Hitler. Goebbels. Stalin. Lenin. Mussolini. Trump.
When the words start to go — when our basic freedoms are undermined simply by removing the words that underpin them — we’ve lost before we even got started.