© 2023 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Watch Your Language ... Please!

Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison says, “Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.”

For more than a year, we have been hearing language from our Presidential candidates and some of their allies and supporters that depresses, angers, and scares those of us concerned about our country and the world. The language they use most often functions only as simplistic advertisement for narrow agendas that merely allow one team to beat the other — with our lives hanging in the imbalance.

The words can be hateful, their intent sinister. When we hear that some Americans are “deplorables” and some immigrants are “… bringing drugs, they are bringing crime, they’re rapists,” we are removed from the realm of necessary civil discourse and sent to a dangerous circle of abuse, distrust, and indignity.

“The mutual exchange of ideas” that creates democracy is erased by hasty generalization, personal attack, and unchecked, unwarranted disgust. This does nothing more than create stereotypes, perpetuate injustice, and manufacture conflicts that kill.

We can do better. We must reject the language and ideas of those whose words hurt, scapegoat, and prevaricate. We must demand that they -- and, we ourselves -- understand complexity and work for the welfare of all beings.

Otherwise, finding places where we can attempt to solve problems together becomes impossible, and we are lost.

I’m Billy Clem, and that’s my perspective.