The Real Meaning of Words

This past Friday night, Hillary Clinton branded essentially some 20-30% of Americans as being inside “a basket of deplorables.” She went on to define us with a litany of brands of her own making. What she failed to realize – or maybe she did – was that by making that comment, she identified herself as a bigot in the truest sense of the word for bigotry is defined as “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.” The words she uttered that night in a New York restaurant where she had gathered for a fund raiser with a collection of top 1% left-wingers including Barbara Streisand branded Hillary Clinton as a bigot.

Clinton and other elitists tend to use words for their own purposes, without considering their real definition. This not surprising since the news media is notorious for using words in print and broadcast whose true meanings are far from the meaning they imply to it. A classic example is the use of the word Tarmac for what is actually a concrete parking ramp at an airport. Those who use it are ignorant of the true meaning of the word, which is actually a brand name for a method of paving roads using a mixture of tar and macadam, and there’s not an airport parking ramp in the world made of it. This is but one example. There are many words commonly used to mean something entirely different from their actual meaning. This is particularly true of words ending with the suffixes “ism,” and “ist.” Other suffixes that may be used contrarily are “ology” and “phobe or phobia.”

The most commonly misused terms are “racist” and “racism.” Before we look at their meanings, lets first consider the word “race.” Race is a Scottish word that literally means “to run.” Sometime around the 16th century the word was corrupted into a new meaning to define a particular group of people of common descent (it  was evidently used because of common characteristics “running” through descendants of a particular pair of ancestors.) It was later applied to groups of people of common appearance. By the mid-1700s, naturalists had adopted a concept of five distinct races – Caucasian, Mongoloid, Malaysian, Negroid and American, with the latter race being the native peoples of the Americas. Such people are now referred to as Amerindian. These five groups were identified as sub-species of the human race. Each group was identified based on particular characteristic – skin color, hair texture, shape of the skull and shape of the eyes.

Now, let’s look at the meanings of suffixes. “Ism” means a practice or belief, as in baptism, Methodism, communism, progressivism, conservatism, etc. In each case, the word means a practice, as in baptism, or a belief in the case of each of the other words. The suffix “ist” means one who practices a belief, philosophy or discipline, as in communist, Baptist, Methodist, geologist, scientist, etc. and etc. In short, words with suffixes have specific meanings. Unfortunately, in recent years, the meanings of many words have been twisted to something entirely different from their actual meaning. Racism and racist are undoubtedly the two words misused the most often. Simply, racism is a belief based on race and a racist is one whose beliefs are based on race.

In the 1930s, some people started referring to the policies of Adolph Hitler’s NAZIs regarding certain peoples, specifically Jews and Eastern Europeans as “racist.” The term was actually misapplied because Jews and Eastern Europeans are not really separate races, but are actually  branches within the Caucasian race. Hitler believed the Germanic peoples are a “master race” and other peoples are inferior. For some reason, even though he was a Jew himself, he held Jews in especially low regard and is believed to have wanted to exterminate them. However, Germanic tribe are just one of a number of tribes of Europe, all of which are actually Caucasian. The word was also misapplied because the true meaning of the word “racist” is one who studies races and holds to beliefs pertaining to race. Journalists mistakenly began referring to NAZI policies as “racism” although they were actually tribalism. They naturally began referring to white Americans, particularly in the South, as “racist” because of their perceived treatment of negroes and Amerindians. In fact, the word was misused because a racist is actually someone who adheres to racism, a belief based on race. Although there were some policies in the United States that were definitely based on race, they were not “racist” or “racism” in the true sense of the words.

There are, however, groups in the United States whose core believes are based on race and who can truthfully be labeled as racists. The best known group is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization formed in 1909 and which was and still is based solely on race. Other groups in America of consequence based solely on race are the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Nation of Islam and the recently established BlackLivesMatter movement. Even the much hated Ku Klux Klan is not a racist organization in the sense that it is based solely on race.  Although some of its policies are based on race, the organization has other goals that are applicable to all Americans.

An organization similar to the NAACP that cannot be termed racial is the B’ nai B’ rith, a Jewish organization founded in 1843 to promote the Jewish people and the state of Israel (which didn’t exist when the organization was founded.) Instead of racial, the organization is actually religious since Judaism is based on religion as well as origin. However, Jews are actually Semites, a subspecies of the Caucasian race that also includes Arabs and was originally based on language. Basically, Semites are descendants of Abraham, Jews from his wife Sarah and Arabs from Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. Another group that is commonly mistakenly referred to as being a race are Hispanics or Latinos, which are actually a different group. Hispanics are actually people who speak either Portuguese or Spanish. True Hispanics are white Europeans from the region the Romans called Hispania, specifically, the Iberian Peninsula. Latino is a recent term used by people from what they call “Latin” America, meaning the American countries colonized by Spain where Spanish is the predominant language. Latinos can be either Caucasian, Amerindian or mestizo, a term used for those of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestory. Some may be negroes. “Mexican” is also often mistakenly referred to as a race but it is actually a nationality.

After being applied to NAZI policies in the 1930s, “racism” and “racist” began to be applied to Americans who don’t accept politically progressive ideas pertaining to race in the United States. The progressive position – and that of true racist organizations such as the NAACP, SCLC and Black Lives Matter – is that members of the negro race deserve special treatment because negroes were brought to the United States as slaves and kept in slavery until slavery ended after the Civil War. In fact, slaves weren’t brought to the United States originally because it didn’t exist, and they weren’t brought to the British colonies – they were brought to the Caribbean, Central and South America by the Spaniards and Portuguese to work as laborers in sugar cane fields. Slavery was already prevalent in the Spanish colonies more than a century before the first African indentured servants were brought to the Jamestown Colony in Virginia by a Dutch ship in 1619. Because they had been baptized as Christians by the Spanish who purchased them in Africa, they were treated as indentured servants and set free after a specified period of time. There were free blacks in Virginia for several years prior to the sentencing of John Punch, an African indentured servant who ran away instead of working out his indenture, to slavery. There is some question as to whether Punch was actually the first slave. Another man named John Casor was indentured to an African named Anthony Johnson who had been indentured, then became a planter after his period of indenture was satisfied. Casor claimed he was indentured and due to be released but Johnson claimed Casor was his “slave for life” and a Virginia court agreed. Regardless, blacks owned other blacks in what became the United States almost from its inception until slavery was abolished by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.

“Racist” and “racism” have become pejorative words primarily since the adoption of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the resulting special treatment given to blacks. Many whites, with good reason, are resentful that blacks – and, now, other groups – receive special treatment in areas such as college admissions and hiring simply because of their race. Other words that have achieved the same status are “homophobe,” which is applied to those who have reservations about homosexuality due to Biblical pronouncements, and “misogyny,” a word that actually means hatred of women as a sex but which is used pejoratively as a label for those who don’t accept the precepts of feminism (another “ism” word that is a belief). It’s also applied to men who express disdain for a particular woman. A recent word thrown out by progressives is “Islamophobe,”  which is applied to those who have reservations about the immigration of Muslims to the United States. Those who used such words use them as expressions of disdain for those who don’t accept their own views regarding these particular issues. In short, they are used by bigots. (Bigot and bigotry are also misapplied – they are now used as synonyms for the modern use of racist and racism.) The irony is that with most of the pejorative words, those who use them are actually themselves guilty of bigotry. They are deplorable.

 

 

 

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Author: semcgowanjr

I am a native of West Tennessee but have lived in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia, Kentucky, Texas and Ohio and now live in Texas near Houston. Twelve years of my life were spent in the Air Force. After leaving the military, I became a professional pilot and worked for two large corporations as a corporate pilot before I took early retirement on December 1, 2000. I went to work for Flight Safety, Texas as a ground school/simulator instructor and worked for a year and a half until I was let go due to downsizing. After leaving FSI, I went back to flying as a contract pilot and aircraft management company pilot until I quit flying in 2010 due to medical issues. I am rated 50% disabled by the VA for Type II diabetes related to herbicide exposure in South Vietnam. I spend my time writing. My books can be found at www.sammcgowan.com/books.html.

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