The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

March 12, 2013

Primus Mootry: American politics and public policy a battle of words

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

— John 1:1-3


Words have enormous power. In a biblical sense, they define our relationship to God. They are “the way, the truth, and the light” by which we live, walk, and seek His grace.

As Christians, that is our faith. Yet, as it happens so often with human beings, still calling ourselves Christians, we take this simple faith and make of it a farce.

A common way of doing so is through the selective interpretation of Scripture. And, in the affairs of this world, twisting words and combinations of words to frame ideas that, as Rudyard Kipling says, “make a trap for fools.”

We define ourselves as a Christian nation. Yet, many of our individual and group behaviors are decidedly un-Christian. Nowhere is this more evident than in our national political leaders and the public policies they espouse.

Here are a few examples of how words have been twisted, or framed, to persuade huge segments of the general population to think one way or another, for or against:

  • Debt — try living without it, especially without income.
  • Affirmative Action — the public has been led to believe that affirmative action programs are designed to get underachieving blacks into better colleges and universities or better job positions.

This is true in spite of the well documented fact that white women are by far the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action programs. Yet, the perception persists, and for what reason I am completely unclear.

There is similar misinformation about such things as food stamps, welfare, Medicaid and other programs designed to help all Americans who are in need. Why put a black face on it? What’s up with that?

  • Obamacare — the real name of this program is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It was called “Obamacare” as a way of directly linking it to all the hot button rhetoric used in the conservative effort to overturn the Act, not on its merits or lack thereof, but out of the openly publicized effort by right-wing politicians to get Obama out of office at any cost.
  • Right-to-lifers — I think this group is also referred to as pro-life. What is problematic is that the group comprises many Bible-thumping evangelicals. They weep at the thought of aborting a fetus from the moment of conception, and cheer when it comes to adult criminal executions. What happened to “judge not, lest ye be judged,” and “Thou shalt not kill?”
  • Gun control — speaking of not killing, now here’s an interesting case. From what I hear, millions of Americans (Christians, too!) are buying guns and ammunition so fast the gun stores can’t keep up with the demand. And I don’t mean BB guns and BBs. Some are buying military-style assault weapons.

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