The Edmond Sun


April 25, 2014

Choosing sides in the culture war of words

EDMOND — There’s something odd going on with our language. I’m not sure exactly how it’s happening, but our forms of expression are being pressured to change. Words and phrases are being rounded up like troublesome cattle and forced into enclosures limiting the free usage they once enjoyed. Our ability to use and interpret previously familiar words is being constricted by the process of political correctness.

Here are a few examples. This is the 10th Amendment to the Constitution verbatim: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.” The language of this amendment has become meaningless verbiage. Step by step, supporters of increasing federal power have tightened their grip. The 10th Amendment notwithstanding, we now accept that the government controls our schools, defines our families, regulates the message of our clergy, supervises our healthcare and oversees the smallest details of our commerce.

The American voter, like docile oxen, grew accustomed to the gradual application of the yoke. They now assume they’re really not aggrieved by loss of the freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The nullification of the 10th amendment took a couple of generations of gradual dilution to accomplish. Now when we read it, no matter what is expressed by the language, we know it doesn’t mean anything.

There are more recent instances of surprising linguistic transformations. A few years ago, President Bush used the term “crusade” in describing the mission of America and its allies to bring a reckoning to those who planned, orchestrated and carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Though “crusade” can refer to any righteous undertaking, there was a general outcry that the very word evoked inflammatory emotion in the minds of our Muslim friends and critics. In order to be respectful of their feelings, we dropped the term from any reference to our operations against terrorists. Now, to avoid “stepping on anyone’s toes,” we must be careful when and how we use the term “crusade.”

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, America and allies launched a “war on terror.” This phrase ultimately became unappealing to “the vocabulary police.” They decided the reality of the brutal struggle might be softened by simply renaming it “overseas contingency operations.” Now we know the stressful, bloody work necessary to carry the battle to our enemies doesn’t get any easier by softening the description. War by any other name … .

On Nov. 5, 2009, when Nidal Malik Hassan opened fire on his fellow soldiers killing 13 and injuring more than 30 others in the name of Allah, our government could not bring itself to refer to this as an act of terror even though this attack was motivated by the same anti-American malevolence that drove the Sept. 11 terrorists to crash our planes into the twin towers. To this day, we can’t officially call Hassan’s attack a terrorist act even though we all know that’s exactly what it was. The vocabulary police have applied a restraining leash on our language where this behavior is concerned.

In describing the Sept. 11 attacks on our installation in Benghazi, even though the perpetrators were known Islamic extremists, former CIA deputy director Mike Morell edited the talking points used in reporting to the American people. He omitted the term “Islamist” from the description of those who carried out the attack. Again, in someone’s view it was necessary to soft-pedal the language. In the president’s early remarks about that attack, he couldn’t bring himself to say outright in unambiguous terms this was a terrorist attack. He buried the term “terrorist” in rambling rhetoric while he touted a distorted narrative concealing what really happened.

Just within the last couple of days, a group of religious representatives were invited to view a 7-minute videotape to be available as part of the Sept. 11 museum scheduled for opening in May. Some are protesting the use of the word “jihad” for fear it might be misleading. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines jihad as “a holy war undertaken by Muslims against unbelievers.” This is exactly what the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks declared they were doing. Critics insist visitors may not understand that all Muslims don’t share the aims and methods of the Sept. 11 attackers. This may be true. The anti-dote to such misunderstanding is plain speech. We need to start insisting that people “tell it like it is.” And if some are fearful they may be unfairly linked to the Sept. 11 attackers, they must boldly express their objections to terrorism and place themselves unambiguously on the side of peace. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.

Text Only
  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results