Words Matter

I’ve been having a back-and-forth argument with some friends over the word coup and whether the antics of Rudy and other Trumpers constitute a coup d’état or golpe de estado. This is NOT a coup, it’s an extended tantrum. Why? Because words matter.

I’m a writer with a law degree so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m a stickler for precise language unless puns are involved. Then all bets are off.

I grew up on the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here’s its definition:

Coup d’état, also called coup, the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements. Unlike a revolution, which is usually achieved by large numbers of people working for basic social, economic, and political change, a coup is a change in power from the top that merely results in the abrupt replacement of leading government personnel. A coup rarely alters a nation’s fundamental social and economic policies, nor does it significantly redistribute power among competing political groups.

There are other sloppier definitions out there, but this is the one I adhere to even if that sounds sticky.

As far as I’m concerned, no military involvement means that it’s not a coup. Neither the military nor security forces are involved in Trump’s attempt to subvert and steal the 2020 presidential election something for which we should be profoundly grateful.

There’s another reason that I’m adamantly opposed to a sloppier definition of the word coup: it elevates and dignifies a presidential* hissy fit and gives it some gravitas. This doomed attempt to steal the election is farcical unless you’re a right-wing conspiracy buff. Anything led by Rudy Giuliani is doomed to fail. He hasn’t succeeded at anything since he left Gracie Mansion other than making money. Remember his 2008 presidential campaign? Neither do I.

I remain convinced that the purpose of this extended political tantrum is to cause chaos and confusion and provide the Trumpers with a stab in the back narrative that they can use to explain away their defeat. That’s why I call Trump the Kaiser of Chaos.

I’m also exasperated with the MSM’s lazy use of language in other areas. The best example is the phrase the “Latin Vote.” The MSM is currently puzzled by why Biden did well with Latin voters in Arizona and not Florida. D’oh: they’re different groups from different places. They’re mostly Mexican in Arizona but Cuban, Venezuelan, and Central American in South Florida. When Cuban emigrees landed in Miami during the waning days of the Jim Crow era they were treated like white people. They still think of themselves as white, not brown. That’s why neither Marco Rubio nor Ted Cruz identify with minority groups. Blame Fidel.

This particular word game is a sign of media sloth and soft bigotry. When I was young, the punditocracy focused on how candidates did with various European ethnic and religious groups. They didn’t lump Italians, Greeks, Poles, Jews, and Slavs together because they had different interests, values, and religious affiliations. Clearly race had something to do with the avoidance of groupthink.

The same logic should be applied to the “Latin Vote” today. There is no monolithic Latin voting bloc much as the media and politicians wish that there were. Oversimplification is the enemy of clarity.

The last word goes to Stephen Stills:

3 thoughts on “Words Matter

  1. LarrytheRed says:

    The behavior of Trump and his team is contemptuous, if not contempt of court.

  2. The “Latin Vote” canard also leaves out the single biggest factor in the difference between the majority of South Floridians of Latin descent and the majority of Southwestern Americans of Latin descent, that is, money. As in the South Floridians have it and the Southwestern Americans don’t. Why did the Cubans who ran from Fidel in 1959 come to the US? Cause that’s where their money, safe initially from Batista and now from Fidel, was. They then built the community here with the help of native anti-Communist right wing ideologues. As time went on and poorer Cubans escaped the island they were welcomed in so long as they pledged allegiance to the anti-Communist cause including voting as they were told to. The majority of the folks coming into Arizona and New Mexico had nothing but what they could carry on their backs. The leaders in their communities come from a background of poverty in their ancestral homes, there was no money waiting for them in the Bank of Taos. Thus they tend to be more social justice oriented, this century’s version of Emma Goldman.

  3. I find the MSM division of urban-rural really annoying, too. Plenty of trumpsters in the city & lots of liberals living in rural areas. Nothing is as cut & dried as they want it to be.

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