07.16.2020 0

‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words’

By Christian D. Orr

The quote in my chosen title for this piece comes from George Orwell’s 1984, specifically from a character by the name of Syme, a lexicographer and colleague of the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith (portrayed by the late great John Hurt in the filmic adaptation made in the real-life year of 1984), at the Ministry of Truth.  Syme is the key developer of the new language of Big Brother/Ingsoc totalitarian society, a bastardization of the English language known as Newspeak (so, by this fractured logic, what we know in real life as modern English is relabelled Oldspeak in the novel).

As Syme elaborates to Winston, “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.’”  In an ironic (and, in my humble opinion, unintentionally and morbidly humorous) twist of fate, in spite of his sycophantic loyalty as a word soldier (so to speak; I’m coining a deliberate play on words vis-a-vis the phrase “foot soldier”) the Party, Syme nonetheless gets vaporized for his troubles anyway, thus becoming an unperson, just as Winston had predicted, because, after all,  Syme “is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Orwell may have been technically 36 years off the mark, but welcome to 1984…in 2020.  In lieu of the Thought Police, Junior Anti-Sex League, and Junior Spies of the novel, we have Antifa, the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), and Cancel Culture, all of whom have the same objective as their fictitious counterparts of yesteryear the destruction of words, and I refer to them collectively (hey, they like collectivism after all, don’t they) as “the PC Thought Police.”

As I write this message, I’m contending with the double-whammy of learning that: (1) my beloved, beleaguered NFL team, the Artists Formerly Known as the Washington Redskins, has surrendered to the PC Thought Police and retired its longstanding team name and logo after being browbeaten to death ad nauseam with accusations of racism (I don’t have time to go into the historical facts about how and why these accusations are false, as that’d be a whole separate op-ed piece in and of itself); and (2) The Daily Signal has just published an op-ed piece by David Harsanyi titled “Here Come the Speech Police,” wherein the author discusses the latest examples of the PC Thought Police runnings amok (as you probably already surmised from the title of Mr. Harsanyi’s article); among other things, Mr. Harsanyi informs his readers that The Philadelphia Inquirer (not to be confused with The National Enquirer, though I daresay the two publications have roughly the same level of credibility now) has declared four particular words and phrases as being racist and ergo deserving of banishment from Newspeak, er, I mean the English language, those being: (1) Peanut gallery; (2) Eenie meanie miney moe; (3) Gyp; and (4) No can do.

So, as I think about the latest development, I can help but think to myself: “Where and when does this madness all end?”

Regarding the former Redskins, head coach Ron Rivera—himself a military brat—has strongly suggested a nickname that honors our military veterans, and I’m certainly cool with that; as both a military history buff and a former U.S. Air Force officer in my own right, I’m kinda partial to Red Tails (RedTails?).  As a sidebar note, one of the real-life Red Tails, i.e. the Tuskegee Airmen, was one of our guest speakers when I attended the Air and Space Basic Course (ASBC) at Maxwell AFB, AL as a 2nd Lieutenant  back in 2002; alas, I don’t remember the gentleman’s name, but he was easily my favorite guest speaker.

Problem is, if the Redskins nickname is indeed replaced with moniker honoring the military, whether Red Tails, Warriors, Veterans, or what have you…the PC Thought Police will still hate it.  After all, these SJWs utterly despise our military (and America in general), so if a pro-military nickname is indeed chosen for my beloved DC NFL team, these snowflakes will undoubtedly kvetch about the promotion of warmongering.

After all, look at Washington’s NBA franchise.  Back when I first fell in love with DC sports in particular and the DC area in general whilst I was a student in the USC Washington Semester program in the spring of 1996, then-team owner Abe Pollin decided to drop the franchise nickname of Bullets because he thought it was too reminiscent of the violence in southeast Washington (as some of you may recall, back then Our Nation’s Capital was also the Murder Capital of the Nation—in spite of the total handgun ban in the District that was finally overturned by the Supreme Court’s Heller decision in 2008), so Pollin decided on Wizards instead.  Lo and behold, some members of the PC Thought Police kvetched that the new nickname sounded too much like the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  (Obviously, seeing how the Wizards moniker has survived, the SJWs didn’t prevail in this instance.)

Seriously, if these people didn’t have something to whine, piss, and moan about, they’d probably spontaneously combust (not that I’d shed a single tear if that were to happen).  So again, I think to myself, “Where and when does this madness all end?”

“Ah,” the Thought Police will say to me, “but you’re not qualified to comment on those words, as you’re not African-American.”  Okay, fine then, so let me comment on words that do apply to my ancestral background.

First of all, as some of you may know, my surname is a Scots-Irish surname (I would say “clan name,” but oops, cant’ call it that, lest it be equated with “Klan”).  And I take great pride in my Celtic roots, the Scottish and Irish portions alike.  Meanwhile, as most of us now, Mick (uppercase) is a common nickname for people with the legal name Michael; famous Micks include rock stars Mick Fleetwood and Mick Jagger, and WWE professional wrestler and bestselling author Mick Foley (AKA Mankind and Cactus Jack).  However, when that same nickname is spelled in lowercase, it’s considered a derogatory name for an Irish person (although that didn’t stop famed IRA leader Michael Collins—portrayed by Liam Neeson in the biographical movie of the same name—from using the nickname)!  So then, should I publicly demand that all those famous Micks change their name because they’re “triggering” my ancestral sensitivities?  I suppose I should file a defamation lawsuit against Messrs. Fleetwood and Jagger in particular, as they’re both Britons, and therefore they’re obviously using their monikers in a deliberate attempt to brag about the British Crown’s subjugation of the Emerald Isle!  (Rest assured, that last sentence was pure sarcasm.)

Likewise, I suppose that as a proud American of partial Irish descent, I should demand that Notre Dame drop its Fighting Irish nickname and logo, because after all, it implies that we’re all a bunch of violent, pugilistic leprechauns.  Now, mind you, as a USC Trojan alumnus and Navy Football season ticket holder, I have my own reasons for disdaining Notre Dame, but those reasons have nothing to do with their nickname.

In addition, although most people have a hard time believing this on account of my blond hair and blue eyes, I do in fact have partial Filipino ancestry from my mother’s side (God rest her soul).  And the derogatory term for a Filipino is….wait for it…”flip.”  Now, mind you, the primary Dictionary.Com definition of flip reads as follows: “to toss or put in motion with a sudden impulse, as with a snap of a finger and thumb, especially so as to cause to turn over in the air.”  Meanwhile, there was the late, great comedian Flip Wilson (God rest his soul), and one of my Air Force colleagues during my nuclear missile security days at Minot AFB, ND went by the nickname “Flip” as a wordplay on her surname De Filippo.  So then, should I demand that “flip” be excised from the English language because it’s offensive to Filipinos, ergo no more “flip-flop” (gee, what new term would we use instead to refer to politicians’ 180-degree turns on policy issues?) and no more coin flips?  And should I go ahead and sue both my former colleague and the estate of Mr. Wilson for defamation?  Oh wait, that’s right, I can’t sue Flip Wilson’s estate because, after all, he was African-American, and therefore, to file such a lawsuit would be racist!  (Sarcasm again.)

Once again: Where and when does this madness all end?  And WWSD (What Would Syme Do)?

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and overseas private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, Japan, Kosovo, and the United Arab Emirates). The opinions expressed here are strictly his own and do not claim to represent the official viewpoints of any of his past or present employers.

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