Six years ago, the Korean pop song, Gangnam Style, took the world by storm, bringing smiles to faces everywhere with its catchy beat and silly dance. Today, by contrast, the global community has been invaded by Trump style, discourse characterized by anger, insult and demeaning language.
People who value decency cringe every time the American president issues another tweet, insulted by his crude, disparaging language, even though they may not the targets of his vitriol. Each time they think his insults can’t get much worse, he proves that it is possible.
When Mr. Trump recently referred to the “___hole countries in Africa” something inside me snapped. Could those words possibly be coming from the mouth of the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the Western world? Although many politicians are disappointing, we still hope for – and expect — better. With such bigotry and hatred displayed openly, people in democratic countries worldwide are experiencing a massive betrayal at the hands of the America’s leader.
As a writer, I view language as a tool for growth, not destruction. Discourse among leaders may not be cordial at all times, but it is generally civil. I hold the leader of any nation’s highest office to a high standard; he/she should speak with dignity, rather than sounding like a mean, angry child calling names on a playground. After all, he/she is a role model, whether or not he/she wants to wear that mantle.
With three years still to unfold in Mr. Trump’s term, it’s difficult not to wonder what offensive language will spew forth next. There’s not much we can do, since he doesn’t take criticism kindly, even from his fellow Americans. What chance does a Canadian stand?
However, we can fight back in small ways. Personally, I plan to promote dignified language by expanding my vocabulary – and yours, perhaps. The more words we have in our arsenals, the less need there is to resort to curses and demeaning language.
In Hag-Seed, renowned author Margaret Atwood‘s recent retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the protagonist refuses to let his actors curse, unless they use insults from Shakespeare. Now, there’s a creative use of language!
As my battle begins, let’s look at the word NADIR. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the lowest point in one’s fortunes; a time of deep despair.” It seems quite appropriate in talking about the state of discourse in American politics.
Let’s all fight ignorance and hatred with the tools that suit us best. Stay tuned for more blog posts exploring words that relate to the news of the day.