FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Does William Safire Need Mental Help?

by MICKEY Z.

Read William Safire’s “On Language” column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine and, besides the fact that complaining about how humans speak is about as logical as pointing out that dolphins do not execute their swimming strokes perfectly, Safire seems like a reasonably sane fellow.

Check out his regular op-ed column and you might come to a different conclusion: William Safire needs mental help.

He writes for the newspaper of record. His words are deemed “fit to print.” But either he has no fuckin’ clue what’s really going on or he’s 100% aware…and thinks all is swell.

Case in point: Safire’s November 10, 2003 column, “The Age of Liberty,” began by crediting President (sic) Bush with demonstrating “a strong sense of history.” What did Dubya do to warrant such rare praise? In a recent foreign policy speech, he evoked “the direct line of aspirations expressed by three of the past century’s most far-seeing and controversial U.S. presidents.” Safire is referring to Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Is Wilson controversial for promising peace and then waging war? Is FDR controversial for interning over 100,000 Japanese-Americans without due process? Is Reagan controversial for, well, being Reagan? No, in Safire’s topsy-turvy world, these words from Bush serve as an explanation: “From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. The advance of freedom is the calling of our time.”

(This on the same day John Gibbons, a former appeals court judge, said justice was being “totally denied” to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay. “They don’t have access to lawyers; they have had no hearings; they are just in limbo,” explained Gibbons. “That’s as clear an example of justice denied as you can find.”)

The former Nixon speechwriter turned corporate media mouthpiece further demonstrated his possible mental instability by using the words “clearly articulated” and “detailed, coherent, and inspiring” in relation to something George W. Bush said out loud. “A carefully constructed speech, like a poem or a brief or a piece of music, has a shape that helps makes it memorable,” Safire gushed. In other words, this wasn’t just a cynical exercise authored by a team of manipulative Bush handlers…this was a “moving exposition of the noble goal of American foreign policy.” (Note: Safire didn’t type those words by mistake. Check the Times corrections box for November 11 and you’ll see no mention of his column being riddled with errors.)

In the elegiac speech that so captivated dear William, Bush (leader of a nation that incarcerates its citizens at the rate of 1200 a week) pointed the finger at “outposts of oppression” like Cuba, Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and China. Conversely, our un-elected president claimed “We’ve witnessed, in little over a generation, the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500-year story of democracy…It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world’s most influential nation was itself a democracy.”

That would be the U.S. he’s referring to…the influential democracy in which one needs to raise $200 million to win four years in the White House. Yet, as Safire informs his readers: “Protecting and extending freedom has always been America’s ‘calling,'”

Let me recap here: Either Safire has no fuckin’ clue what’s really going on or he’s 100% aware…and thinks all is swell. Whichever deduction you reach, it all points to this: William Safire needs help…now.

And while we’re at it, let’s take a second look at his stale “language maven” schtick. Steven Pinker, author of “The Language Instinct,” had this to say about Safire’s ilk: “The contradiction begins in the fact that the words ‘rule,’ ‘grammatical,’ and ‘ungrammatical,’ have very different meanings to a scientist and a lay person. The rules people learn (or, more likely, fail to learn) in school are called prescriptive rules, prescribing how one ‘ought’ to talk. Scientists studying language propose descriptive rules, describing how people do talk.”

In other words, as long as most people can understand you, the hell with the William Safire.

MICKEY Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet and can be reached at: mzx2@earthlink.net.

 

More articles by:

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail