And You Wondered Where Your Taxes Went...
There was a report recently that the Chief Diversity Officer in the State Department, a Mr. John Robinson (who apparently doesn't have enough real work to occupy himself) warned his colleagues that a large number of common idioms, such as "hold down the fort" and "rule of thumb" described racist attitudes. Since Mr. Robinson also serves as the director of the Office of Civil Rights in the very same State Department, his interest in the subject and his viewpoint might be understandable.
Now, while in very narrow, factual terms this individual might be correct, he would only be correct if you went back in history and delved into the original meaning of these phrases.
For example, "hold down the fort" was apparently a reference to maintaining a careful security vigil in outposts on the Western frontier of America to guard against attacks by any of the Indian tribes who took understandable exception to whites moving into the neighborhood.
Apparently Native American shamans had the gift of prophecy and could see the approach of endless strings of strip malls, intermingled with an equally endless number of Starbucks, populated by hordes of teenagers who would demand that they be treated as adults while not yet being able to figure out how to pull their pants up. Very gifted shamans, indeed, and given what they saw coming, showed no anti-white racial bias at all.
But I digress.
It is interesting to note that this individual delved into the historical context of these phrases, their evolution and their original meaning to tell us all that we were a bunch of damned racists.
And why is it interesting? Well, the gentleman who dug up these miniscule linguistic facts is a part of our very liberal, even Progressive, State Department. He apparently won't accept that our language, in fact any language, is constantly evolving. He insists that it is absolutely necessary to go back to the original intent of the phrase to condemn anyone who uses it.
Considering that when Justice Alito or any of the more conservative members of the Supreme Court do exactly the same thing and search for the historical meaning and context of any part of the Constitution, they are told by these same Liberal-Progressives that such efforts are not needed. They are told to just read it the way it reads today, using current meanings of words, not the way the founders meant for it to be understood.
So once again, Liberals and Progressives want a "heads I win, tails you lose" outcome on what would normally be the simple use of words.
And I'll bet that you thought Mayor Bloomberg wanting to control the size of a glass of soda was being just too much of a nanny. I believe, Mr. Mayor, that you deserve an apology. Your nannyism doesn't soar to the heights that Mr. Robinson has achieved.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org