Niagara Gazette


August 25, 2013

SINGER: Political terminology exhaustion


Niagara Gazette — Oscar Wilde in typical tongue-in-cheek fashion said something to the effect that only superficial people don’t appraise by appearances; and superficial whiffs or snippets you get on radio or TV do count more perhaps than ever before. And this is detrimental because — Wilde’s jibe notwithstanding — judging by off-the-top appearances, accents, or code words is the wrong way to make intellectual choices and judgments.

And what this divide is doing to the political world has become a serious problem right now. That same kind of divide very much hurt France in the ‘30s, confronted by Hitler’s battalions across the Rhine, and it plunged Spain into a ruinous civil war during the same era.

Here these divisions have been manifested over the problem of conferring or not conferring eventual legal status on some 11,000,000 illegals, whom some fear could crest (with family reunification) to over 30 million. One side has wanted quick resolution of this thorny problem, deriding opponents as not forward-looking enough; the other has preached the virtues of looking more carefully at complexities and ramifications before leaping.

Meanwhile, the formerly patronized Third World provides most immigrants these days, legal and illegal, and one day all this progressive-conservative sniping may simply be overtrumped by such incomers, including from countries essentially locked up before the ‘90s or so.

We all live (whether progressive, conservative, or in-between) in a sort of “as if” universe, and many these days take refuge in “nostalgism,” really for a world we’ve basically lost. The Beach Boys are now some 50 years from their heyday, and that America–or more accurately, North America–is really a thing of the past.

And neither side of the ideological divide addresses this adequately, because it would take proactive guts, including electoral guts, to do so. Yes, today’s tarnished, supremely divisive terminology may ultimately become outmoded and irrelevant–and in the not distant future.

B.B. Singer has taught at several colleges in the area, including Niagara University.

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