Politically Correct Catchwords We Hide Behind
March 1, 2010
By Rev. Michael Bresciani
The idioms of the PC bent are more prevalent in politics than in any other sphere of American life. The general use of PC terms seems to have gravitated largely to the liberal side of the block. Rather than being the sought after new kid on the block, PC usage has become a cloud of subterfuge and disingenuousness.
Etiquette, protocol and gentlemanliness is what keeps most of us from using demeaning or degrading terms to describe opponents of our political view. We may completely disdain the President's policies but it is protocol that causes us to refer to him as the President and not some lesser appellation.
Even among conservatives' passwords, catchwords or, catchphrases tend to filter to the surface and enter into common usage; or over-usage. The word intelligent is one such catchword and, it is used more for President Obama than it wants to be. Rather than being disingenuous, it rings of poor mathematics: it doesn't add up.
On any given night of the week on conservative TV networks and all day long on conservative radio, the policies and decisions of the President are dissected, discussed and, mostly dismissed as dumb, dangerous or deleterious. All this, is often followed with; "but the President is a very intelligent man."
Can we have it both ways: can incongruity and cohesiveness both describe the same thing? Can the word intelligent ever be used as a substitute for dumbbell? If the stimulus, the healthcare proposals, cap and trade and lax anti-terrorist policies are all not very smart; why do we describe the originator of these plans and policies as a very smart person?
I have no idea how smart Mr. Obama is and depending on whose definition we are using, neither do most Americans. Do we check his SAT scores (not available) or do we engage him in a conversation, (not likely) and then sit and discuss the depth of his knowledge, his savvy, his cognizance or his articulation and verbiage?
Let's come in for a landing here and use some common sense based on say, Forrest Gump's mom. In the Gump movie the phrase most oft repeated was "stupid is – as stupid does." Without being disrespectful to the President or any other politician lets use this adage conversely, how about, "intelligent is – as intelligent does." Most Americans do not see any intelligence in the policies of the President at any time during his first year in office so how did the phrase "the President is very intelligent," get coined?
The President's aptitude being all too subjective, perhaps we should ponder the common usage of the word 'intelligence.' Here is a word that has come into its time, and now is so common that it has supplanted other terms of equal or greater importance like, honor, character and honesty. You remember: that was the stuff we used to demand of our presidents and our politicians.
Liberals scoff at Sarah Palin and are quick to entertain the idea that she doesn't have enough intelligence to be President. Yet, it is not the fact that as a little girl she tried to leap off a wooden planked porch in the township of Skagway and fly: rather it is more of what follows in her life that puts her in a class with people who really know how to fly like the astronauts. ("Going Rogue" pg 8) Like them this Alaskan girl has grit, character and spunk. It is still called 'the right stuff.'
Who can forget the story of Henry Ford? When dragged into court for others to prove that with only an eighth grade education, he was too incompetent to be the head of America's largest corporation; he countered with a simple answer. He said he could call on some of the greatest engineering and business minds in the nation at the mere push of a button so why would he need to know everything they knew. The case was dismissed.
Lest we've forgotten that's why a President has a cabinet and a staff: he can't know everything, nor does he need to. Neither does Sarah Palin. Intelligent? She didn't get to be governor because she was incompetent. If intelligence is what the country is now running on then perhaps we should opt for a bit more character the next time around.
Intelligence is perhaps the most overrated word in common use today. It will never do as a substitute for vision, character and honesty. Abraham Lincoln didn't graduate from high school but no one would question his character or his dogged determination to hold the union together. At this point in history, no one really cares how intelligent he was, we are all just glad that he too, had the right stuff.
It is worthy of note that in the Bible, Christ, his apostles and virtually none of the prophets were ever accused of using political correctness. Perhaps that's why they were maligned, mistreated and destroyed.
Prophets of old and later Jesus said Israel and some of her neighbors had passed the mark. They had left the laws of God far behind and although they had plenty of free time, goods and bucks they were called bloody children and their leaders were called snakes, hypocrites and phonies. None of them were referred to as 'intelligent' but, maybe the ancients knew better than us that leaving what was right is not to be confused with something that is intelligent.
The Apostle Paul addressed the gaping differences between character and intelligence by declaring that men are more prone to be puffed up or prideful because of their intelligence. (Ro 1: 22 – 1Cor 8: 1) Long before Paul's time the man of wisdom himself, King Solomon, described best what made a nation great.
Solomon said, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34) With or without highly lettered or intelligent leaders this is still the only thing that makes a great leader or a great nation.