FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Words Matter

Last week 350 newspapers across the nation sent a message to Donald Trump rebutting his dangerous assertion that the press is “the enemy of the people.” It’s not surprising that this paranoid and increasingly cornered president and his administration are ramping up the rhetoric on their growing volume of scandals, incompetence and corruption. Words matter — and it’s a lesson equally applicable to Montana’s Congressman Greg Gianforte and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

There is great wisdom in “the pen is mightier than the sword” — which is why Trump fears a free press reporting on his disastrous presidency while his accusations of “fake news” grow less effective daily. Yet his words still have the ability to move some to violence against the media.

Take the bomb threat called in to the Boston Globe, the paper that started the editorial revolt against Trump’s attacks on the press. Somewhere out there, someone decided the Globe should be bombed for speaking truth to power when the Globe actually deserves to be honored for fearlessly leading the nationwide media blowback against Trump’s attempts to silence the press.

Yet, while the national media was fighting back against Trump’s inflammatory words, Zinke was in California using the wildfires to cast blame on environmentalists. Yep, the very people who have been warning for decades that the continued burning of coal, oil and gas were overloading the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses are the ones to blame when their global warming predictions come true.

Unfortunately, Zinke didn’t stop there. Instead he went on to recklessly label those who used the judiciary to force federal land management agencies to comply with the law as “environmental terrorists.” One might wonder how it’s possible that this guy doesn’t understand the three “separate and equal” branches that are the very foundation of our government. Or that the judiciary exists as part of the checks and balances on the very abuses of the executive branch so blatantly in evidence in the Trump administration.

So tell us, Secretary Zinke, what part of taking public policy disputes to a court of law is construed as “terrorism” in your mind? And if you can’t, maybe you’d best rethink your rash and totally baseless accusations before someone, believing your false words, decides to hurt someone.

And finally, there’s Montana’s lone congressman, Greg Gianforte. That he went to Congress with absolutely no experience in lawmaking was on full display last week when some conservation groups asked him to hold public hearings on his bills to destroy Montana’s existing Wilderness Study Areas.

Gianforte’s response was to tell those organizations he’d think about having public input after the bills had passed. If this sounds totally inane there’s a good reason — it is. Anyone with any experience with lawmaking knows every word counts. The simplest example is the difference between the words “may” and “shall”; the former meaning you have a choice to do something and the latter meaning it’s mandatory. There’s every reason for Gianforte’s constituents, who are all Montanans by the way, to seek input and oversight on drafting the language of the laws that affect our quality of life — and no good reason for him to deny that.

As Thomas Jefferson sagely wrote in 1787: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” That’s advice Trump, Zinke and Gianforte should heed as every day fewer citizens are finding their threatening words and divisive “governance” acceptable.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail