Warning: You are about to enter a no-euphemism zone
Sylvia doesn't have "challenges"; she's a klepto
This is a warning for those of you out there in Rio Linda as Rush Limbaugh might say. You are about to enter a no-euphemism zone where the shortest distance to reality is a straight line, free from softened edges. I have always been opposed to the use of cutesy words to describe actual things or situations because they tend to insulate us from the real world. For many of us, our acquaintance with these mild or indirect words or expressions (that are used as substitutes for something that might be considered too blunt for most people), start at birth.
Parents of newborns talk to their infants using moronic words and phrases that actually mimic the language they use with their pets! "He's a good boy, isn't he? Love that blanky-wanky?" That should be making all infants rise up in protest. However, since they don't yet talk they are forced to coo and gurgle while mom and dad keep adding new dumbed-down versions of adult-speak to the baby vocabulary, allowing it to ferment in the recesses of the urchin's mind. On it goes throughout the toilet-training phase using 'acceptable' childish euphemisms for normal bodily functions. Can you imagine if your children never grew out of their baby talk? At thirty, your son is asking flight attendants where the toi toi is or your daughter is excusing herself from a board meeting, announcing she needs to go wee wee.
Seems that Americans are constantly inventing new ways to soften and delegitimize reality. We don't die; we just pass away, as if on vacation to Tahiti after winning the Publishers' Clearing House Contest. We don't have problems anymore. Instead, we have issues. "Poor Sylvia, she has an issue with kleptomania. She tends to borrow things without asking for them." Our cars are pre-owned not used. Micro-aggressions are something that might be called teasing. There's no room for unhappiness or fear or doubt in American society. We can't call a spade a spade without some card-carrying member of the PC police reminding us that we shouldn't be so direct and insulting. Have we no compassion for the victims among us or are we just a bunch of Republicans?
Our skin has never been so thin. Sports teams' mascots like the George Washington University 'Colonials' are under attack as are many others round the country. History must be reviled and revised to fit today's new narrative of America as a nation of narrow-minded slave-owning ogres. The guardians of the PC flame over at National Public Radio can't even bring themselves to say the name of the Washington, DC professional football team, the 'Redskins.' Illegal immigrants are undocumented migrants. Safe spaces abound on college campuses because, Heaven forbid, students could be exposed to uncomfortable opinions that might challenge their liberal orthodoxy. Nobody's safe from persecution...except the persecutors.
Halloween costumes that are considered 'cultural appropriations' like those of American Indians are banned from the shelves of toy stores. Even celebrities' evening gowns aren't safe. "Did you see X wearing that cheongsam? What was she thinking?" I'm reminded of former Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder who called all of us cowards for not being able to talk about racism in America. This was perhaps the only honest thing that Holder said during his six years in office. Not only are we unable to talk about racism, we are forever misusing the term, applying it to people of different ethnic groups not races when we should instead be using 'bigotry' or prejudice' to describe acute animus.
America needs to reboot itself and find its better angels of honesty and straightforwardness soon, otherwise the PC crowd will continue to sanitize all the real life out of life.
Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat and now political analyst and author. He has written nine books and over 850 articles on politics, economics and social trends. He can be reached at: email@example.com