Four-letter Words

Two four letter words are clean as a whistle until placed side by side.

‘Karl’ could be just another guy, like George Karl, the NBA coach, Karl Malden…or maybe Karl Rove.

‘Marx’ could be Groucho, Harpo, Chico, or maybe Richard. Or it could be mistaken for the word ‘marks’ as in grades in school. Or for targets, as in ‘marksmanship’.

Each name by itself has four letters but is not yet a four-letter word. Either can be spoken out loud. But speak the two together, as in ‘Karl Marx’, and heads will turn, fingers will wag, charges will be brought, electronic ears will be listening.

It’s popular to be a Groucho, Harpo, Chico, or Richard. It’s not so safe if your name is Karl, unless your last name happens to be Rove.

The older Karl grew up in a white house in Trier, Germany, but he never occupied the White House

Karl Marx Haus in Trier

Karl Marx Haus in Trier

The White House

The White House

The Moment to Decide

Words are POWERFUL! They shape our most important decisions.

Language is the primary mechanism of mind control: truth becomes falsehood and falsehood becomes truth; beauty becomes ugliness and ugliness becomes beauty; goodness becomes evil and evil becomes goodness, twisted by the language of innuendo and word association.

American Crossroads’ campaign ad (see yesterday’s “Campaign Ads and the Snake”) is a case in point, an illustration of Timothy Egan’s New York Times piece,Deconstructing a Demagogue“:

Back in 1994, while plotting his takeover of the House, Gingrich circulated a memo on how to use words as a weapon.  It was called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” Republicans were advised to use certain words in describing opponents — sick, pathetic, lie, decay, failure, destroy.  That was the year, of course, when Gingrich showed there was no floor to his descent into a dignity-free zone, equating Democratic Party values with the drowning of two young children by their mother, Susan Smith, in South Carolina.

Today, if you listen carefully to any Gingrich takedown, you’ll usually hear words from the control memo.

The cynicism that pervades the American electorate is due, in part, to this demagogic use of language. Words are precious things. Holy things. Sacred things. When they get twisted, they become vulgar and profane, one might even say ‘demonic’ in the sense in which philosophical theologian Paul Tillich defined ‘demonic’ as the twisting of the good.  (Paul Tillich, “Life and It’s Ambiguities,” Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 102).

Paul Tillich was one of the first university professors dismissed from his teaching position during the Third Reich. At the invitation of Reinhold Niebuhr, he came to America where he taught at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Chicago.

Tillich and his academic colleagues in theology, philosophy, and ethics (Willem Zuurdeeg, Martin Niemoller, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Elie Wiesel) left us a rich legacy of careful analysis of the demagogic use of language.

Looking at America today, some observers argue that Hitler won his war after all. The Third Reich’s use of language and rhetoric is the substance of Language: a Key Mechanism of Control. The prescription that once led a nation regarded as “the most sophisticated culture” to swallow the toxin of twisted truth is with us still. The poison is peddled as cure and candy by candidates bought and sold by the private corporate powers whose Super PAC ads control our airwaves in America.

American Crossroads, led by the cunning of Karl Rove and the funding of the Koch Brothers and other wealthy Right Wing funders, is a Super PAC whose manual of operations is Gingrich’s memo, “Language: a Key Mechanism of [Social] Control,” renamed here as “Demonic Language: the Work of the Snake.” 

But the snake does not own the garden. Nor is it the author of language. Truth always has a way of peeking out from behind the bushes. And sometimes it cries out loud and clear, as it does from an old hymn I learned in childhood. It sings from the pews and in my heart in the hymn lyrics penned by James Russell Lowell I especially treasure in times when, watching a campaign ad, I need assurance that the snake has not won.

Once to every man and nation Comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth with falsehood…. Though the cause of evil prosper, Yet t’is truth alone is strong; Though her portion be the scaffold, And upon the throne be wrong; Yet that scaffold sways the future, And, behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadows, Keeping watch above His own.

– James Russell Lowell, 1845

Click to feel the power of the music on Preston Hawes’ violin. 

Campaign ads and the Snake

Karl Rove

Remember Karl Rove? He’s still around.

“American Crossroads” produced a campaign ad that speaks volumes about how far the Far Right will go to shape American voter opinion leading to the November election. Thanks to Unedited Politics for drawing attention to the ad.

Watch the ad, draw your own conclusions, read my comments below, and leave your comment. Or Re-Post this to further the discussion.

To waTch the add CLICK HERE.

When you put together the mind of Karl Rove and the money of the Koch Brothers, THIS is what you get: an ad that appeals to the basest fears and prejudiced of those in the general public who prefer willful ignorance and demagoguery to truth and civility. This is an exercise in the slanderous politics of character assassination that has produced such wide-spread cynicism in America.

Did you notice that the words PUBLIC EQUITY” are in RED?

“American Crossroads” is a Super PAC that cares nothing for public equity. It manipulates facts to give the impression that it cares about the 99%. It doesn’t. It cares nothing for “the little people.” It cares about power. It protects privilege.

This ad is what American Corssroads” is about – racist innuendos (the President’s head shucking and jiving like a rapper or a bobble head doll); twisting or making up facts (i.e. blaming the economic crisis on President Obama when, in fact, it landed on his doorstep as a result of the previous Administration’s failed oversight of financial institutions and financial markets; alleging that the auto  industry bailouts and stimulus package killed American jobs and sent them overseas, when, in fact, it saved and created American jobs).

But the question is not about the bailouts that are now widely unpopular. The question here is more basic than any policy: “Are we, the American electorate, wise enough to recognize the hiss of a snake when we hear it.” If not, the snake wins. If Yes, we win.

This afternoon, Views from the Edge will re-publish “The Language of Demagoguery” on the Gingrich memo that became the Machiavellian guide to public control.