Several months ago I learned a new way to talk about public education. Yesterday I heard it come out of Trump’s mouth. Forget “public schools.” Now they are “government schools,” a phrase that’s packed with conspiratorial overtones.
For those who do not believe in the power of words to shape our reality, remember that slaves had no souls, so you could do with them as you please. Jews were parasites, so you could do with them as you please. Native Americans were savages, so you could do with them as you please. Unfortunately, this list could go on and on.
We understand the world, we understand ourselves, and we understand each other using words. We make decisions based on those words. Yet, on some level, we remain profoundly ignorant of their power. I have yet to figure out how to get certain types of people to take words seriously. They unthinkingly throw them around, as if they had no effect on the world.
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Here’s something to think about. Guns and Zyklon B did not kill 11 million people through systematic slaughter. Chains and whips did not enslave millions of African-Americans. “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” did not kill 200,000 Japanese. These people were killed or enslaved long before it’s actual occurrence in the world. They were killed or enslaved in the minds of the people who spoke to each other, who shared their understanding of the world, long before weapons were put to use. How did they do that? They used words.by