Home » congress » Choosing my words – the Dictionary & I decide

Choosing my words – the Dictionary & I decide

We all have the right to describe ideas with the words we choose. The constitution protects free speech. The current administration does not get to speak for me. An Escalation is not a surge. The war in Iraq was aggression, but it was labeled preemptive war. Being an activist is not being unpatriotic. Rebellion does not signify revolution. And Global warming is certainly not equivalent to climate change.

“. . . the White House possesses documents that contain evidence of an attempt by senior administration officials to mislead the public by injecting doubt into the science of global warming and minimize the potential danger.” — Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. One of the most tragic and farcical aspects of this administration has been the claim that they are protecting us. The current administration is neglecting environmental protection, calling climate science only opinion and saying that their chilling censorship is only editing. Here is the CBS News story of Rep. Waxman’s important hearing yesterday on global warming, quoted below:

Two private advocacy groups told a congressional hearing Tuesday that climate scientists at seven government agencies say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the threat of global warming.
The groups presented a survey that shows two in five of the 279 climate scientists who responded to a questionnaire complained that some of their scientific papers had been edited in a way that changed their meaning. Nearly half of the 279 said in response to another question that at some point they had been told to delete reference to “global warming” or “climate change” from a report.

“We are the deciders” – Sean Penn. Protestors disagree about what their current president has told them. The war in Iraq is a civil war, not the central front of the so-called war on terror. Saturday’s big march in Washington was described in a publication called The Nation. One of its bloggers, John Nichols, posted a piece called, “DC Marchers Challenge Congress to End War.” To quote his piece:

Actor Sean Penn summed up the new energy — and the new focus — of the anti-war movement Saturday, when he turned George Bush’s own words against the president.
. . . “In a democracy,” the actor told the cheering crowd, . . . “we are the deciders.”

“Whether I lived or died, it was going to be all right” – Jim Zwerg. During the late 1960’s the anti-war movement, the women’s movement and the civil rights movement ran parallel paths that sometimes merged. For example, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against racism and against the Vietnam war. Brave people died in the service of both causes. States rights did not legalize racism. The original civil rights movement’s freedom rides were recently commemorated. The New York Times carried this (1/29/07) story of the new Freedom Riders , from which I quote:

Air brakes hissing and motors rumbling, four buses retraced segments of the 1961 Freedom Rides on Saturday and Sunday, giving students aboard a front-seat view of a pivotal moment in civil rights history. . . About 100 students . . . accompanied veterans of the civil rights movement, some of whom came close to death in the bloody confrontations over interstate travel in the South.
. . . Along the route, speakers rotated among buses to describe their experiences and answer questions. . . Among them were Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, who was beaten and jailed on the rides [and a] . . . Mr. Zwerg, 67, described the eerie quiet before the crowd set upon him 46 years ago.
“I knew whether I lived or died,” he said, “it was going to be all right.”

“Many are the motives for trimming back the truth and printing the legend” – Todd Gitlin. Those involved in the multifaceted protest movements of the 1960’s were practicing civil disobedience. They were not traitors. An opinion piece published in the LA Times, written by Sixties leader, Todd Gitlin, is a very interesting and provocative article about how very these complicated movements have always been. I quote from his worthwhile words headlined, “Paraphrasing the ’60s“:

Are we glossing over the complex realities and just embracing the legend?”
. . . Many are the motives for trimming back the truth and printing the legend. But those times, stupendous and consequential as they were, are not well described with stick-figure melodrama. The actual ’60s took 10 years to happen and were crammed with people of more than one dimension. The events are hard to understand when you rip them out of their historical situation and cram them into melodrama. They were comic, tragic and complex on every side. There were heroes, flakes, opportunists, villains and also-rans. Some who were well-motivated and heroic at one time were flakes and maniacs at others. If you were reviled by the establishment, you were scarcely an automatic saint.
. . . I do not know whether those arrested this week are guilty of anything. I do know this: If we were a sober culture, not a faith-based or stick-figured one, we would outgrow all the hysteria, all the romance, all the intoxications, and stare long and hard at the whole god-awful hodgepodge of tragedy and farce in which we live.

The words I have decided to use to summarize this post are these: maddening, frustrating, pathetic, lame and Orwellian. But they are balanced by heartening, inspirational, grateful, hopeful and forward-leaning. I’ll check in again on my Wednesday’s regular subject, Activism, next week.

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