Watch Your Language, Please

Mr. President, sir, you have occupied our nation’s top office for about six months now, and I hope you won’t take it as a sign of disrespect if I offer a bit of constructive criticism as a tax-paying citizen.

After all, this country has a long and proud tradition of its people being openly critical of their elected leaders, which I think is a very healthy thing for a functioning constitutional republic.

When people no longer feel free or safe to criticize the people in charge, that’s when democracy dies. And, on the other hand, elected officials would be wise to speak respectfully regarding the people they were elected to serve – that is if they want to get re-elected.

And that leads me to my biggest (though certainly not only) criticism of your administration to date, Mr. Biden.

Frankly, I’ve got a problem with some of the language you’ve been using and some of the things you seem to be implying about millions of your fellow Americans.

Specifically, you have repeatedly employed language that seems to indicate that you actually believe that a significant percentage of this country’s population consists of virulent racists, white supremacists, and far-rightwing extremists, who are looking to destroy democracy and trample on the rights and freedoms of other Americans.

Now tell me, Mr. Biden, is white supremacy really the biggest threat to national security that we face today? Was what happened on January 6 really a planned attempt to overthrow the government by an enraged mob of murderous racist insurrectionists? Was Jan. 6 really as bad or worse than 9-11 or Pearl Harbor? Do the events of that day justify tasking federal law enforcement to identify and hunt down the “enemy within”?

And do the voting laws presently being enacted and/or proposed by some states really represent a “21st Century Jim Crow assault”? Is all this truly the biggest threat to our democracy since the Civil War?

I mean really? Are you really serious about all that?

From what I’ve read of the proposed legislation in Texas (which has loomed large in the news lately) it would actually expand voting hours and access for Texans of all ethnicities in all voting districts. As far as I can see, it just tightens voting security and rolls back emergency measures (like drive-thru voting) that were put in place last year because of the pandemic.

Of course, all this is open to debate, and if someone would actually present a rational argument, citing specific portions of the proposed law and pointing out how they restrict voting rights for certain groups of people, I would gladly give them a fair hearing.

But I haven’t heard you, Mr. President, or anyone else on your side of the aisle do that yet. I even read the entire transcript of your July 13 speech in Philadelphia, and while you used a lot of language I would consider highly emotive and hyperbolic (even though you claimed that you were not using hyperbole), I couldn’t find any clear explanation as to how any of it actually restricts people of color from voting.

Now I’m not in any way trying to downplay the very real evils of racism or how actual Jim Crow laws historically suppressed the freedoms of African Americans, but you’ll pardon me, Mr. Biden, if I need more evidence than just vague accusations before I start believing that America is currently on the verge of being taken over from the inside by a fifth column of neo-Nazis posing as conservative politicians and voters.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, Mr. President, but I very strongly suspect that you’re saying these things with strategic intent in order to create a specific narrative with a specific political goal in mind.

I believe the narrative you’re obviously trying to establish is that there is a wide-spread and pervasive surge of racism and white supremacy taking place in this country, that it represents an “existential threat” to our democratic institutions, and (most importantly) that extreme measures are justified to counter this threat.

And I think you’re pushing this narrative primarily to bolster public support for the For the People Act, which has already passed the U.S. House but is being held up in the Senate by Republicans and a couple of non-conforming Democrats. I think you made it pretty clear that this is your true motivation during your July 13 speech.

And from what I’ve read of this bill, it would basically take control of our nation’s election process away from individual states (as was established in the U.S. Constitution), and give centralized control to the federal government – which (in the present tense) basically means the Democratic Party.

Like I said before, forgive me if I’m wrong about all this, but I don’t think I am.

Now I do understand that American politics has always involved gamesmanship, misdirection, narrative control, and other shady practices, and politicians on both sides of the aisle engage in these kinds of dealings all the time. But I must tell you, Mr. Biden, that I strongly feel that this particular narrative you’re currently selling is toxically divisive and downright dangerous, and, if you keep it up, it could take us to a very dark place as a nation.

So, if you really meant all that stuff you said about being a uniter and a president for all Americans, then, please, please, please, stop implying that great swaths of us are racists and white supremacists.

We don’t deserve that, and we definitely don’t appreciate it.

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