The Worth of Words

Words Matter


GORDONVILLE — A lot has happened in the wake of the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

That nation’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – yes, one of 25 elected female leaders around the world — said “our gun laws will change.”

“Our” means “theirs,” not “ours.”

Despite way more mass shootings – defined as four casualties (fatalities or injuries) – our leaders mislead us toward generic thoughts and prayers and said it’s “too soon” to talk about gun control.

Then they wait us out, until emotions are quelled and they can double down on an arcane interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, New Zealand – which already has strong gun laws in place — used one incident, with 51 fatalities, to vow to do more about gun control than we have with all those thoughts and prayers put together.

The Australian mass murderer, a sworn white nationalist so devoid of remorse that he flashed a white power symbol through shackled paws, had a manifesto praising – among others – your president (not mine).

That is not insignificant.

And it is not new.

In 2017, in Quebec City, Alexander Bissonette killed six in a mosque in Quebec City. The follow-up investigation revealed a fascination with your president (not mine).

When they say the POTUS – no matter who is in the chair — takes on the role of leader of the free world, this is why.

It is an awesome responsibility, and words matter more than, say, the leader of Uzbekistan or Albania.

Your president (not mine) insists upon all the absolute power that he thinks comes with the position, but none of the responsibility riding shotgun with words mattering to the point that it can be a matter of life and death.

And not just in New Jersey or New Mexico, but in New Zealand or Newfoundland.

Whether it is inciting violence abroad or at home – or issuing thinly veiled threats about who will be on his side in an armed domestic struggle — it is conduct unworthy of the office to act like a drunkard on a bar stool looking for a fight before last call.

Take it from someone who watches “The Sopranos” on a continual loop. Tony Soprano has 10 times more tact as a mob boss than your president (not mine) as King Pompous on his throne.

Scoff if you must, but consider the response when asked to comment on the tragedy – in a country that he probably couldn’t find on a map — your president (not mine) sent in the punt team and flew by the seat of his hindquarters.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” he said.

Other than that, this response was … very, very … huh … pathetic.

Not to mention hypocritical.

How so?

This is the same misleader of the free world who raises the vigilance level against all Muslims when statistics not only show a small percentage (roughly 6-8 percent, depending on the source) are radicalized to some extent.

And nothing legitimizes it better than when he fans the flames, making himself the radical Muslims best recruiting tool.

Think about the “logic” your president (not mine) uses for his babyish insistence on building a wall at the Mexican border and for putting separating children from the parents and putting them in cages.

He says it is all about crime, but undocumented workers commit crimes at a much lower rate than current citizens (56 percent fewer criminal convictions, according a study published in the Washington Post).

He cites drugs, when the vast amount of drugs come in from ports of entry (i.e., 25 kilos seized the other day at Port of Philadelphia).

For these pet projects/peeves, he twists stats for his own use when preaching to his unknowing choir.

When it comes to backing a car into a crowd of counter protesters on the streets of Charlottesville, shooting worshipers inside a black church in South Carolina or a synagogue in Pittsburgh — or mosques around the world — it is all conveniently dismissed as random.


Since his followers like his plain and simple talk, let’s keep in that tongue.

Plain and simple: We have a white man in the White House who, by Making America White Again, made some with “serious problems” feel empowered enough to act out.

Your president (not mine) may not want to own it – he rarely does – but the deed is in his name.

The FBI reported last year that hate crimes rose for the third straight year, with white nationalists leading the way.

All the while he referred to himself as a “nationalist.”

Say what?

In a job with enormous consequences, one where words matter, it is just another glaring example of poor usage of language that will inevitably have consequences down the line.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald  on March 25, 2019.

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