Jewish World Review March 21, 2014 / 19 Adar II, 5774
Communities, Folks, and Bullies
By Greg Crosby
Community used to mean a neighborhood or a suburb, not an entire population. "The international community" sounds stupid and juvenile to my ear. You might as well say "the intergalactic community" or the "community of the universe." If there's an "international community" and a "European community," can there be a "United States community?" How about a "China community?" Maybe we should refer to the Obama administration as the "White House community."
And when President Obama isn't referring to people in terms of a "community" he is referring to them as "folks." Once again, the word "folks" used to be reserved as a casual, sort of benign term for simple, ordinary people or one's own family. But Obama uses it to refer to anyone, even murderers as in "Those folks who flew the airplanes into the buildings on 9/11…" Sorry, but your mom and dad are folks. People in a studio audience are folks. Terrorists are not folks, they're murderous bastards.
And since we're on the subject of what we call people, when we think of the native people of the Caribbean Islands and the West Indies we tend to think of blacks, but they are not the true island natives. The blacks who live in those islands are no more indigenous of that area than are the whites. The islands (Jamaica, Bermuda, Antigua, Martinique, and the rest) were colonized by European whites in the 16th Century who brought over Africans as slaves to work the plantations. The real original natives to the islands were South American Indians.
At the time of the European arrival, three major indigenous peoples lived on the islands: the Taíno in the Greater Antilles, The Bahamas and the Leeward Islands; the Island Caribs and Galibi in the Windward Islands; and the Ciboney in western Cuba. Anthropologists believe that these people originally came to the islands by canoe from the South American mainland.
When the Europeans arrived the development of agriculture begun in the Caribbean. This required a large workforce of manual laborers, which the Europeans found by taking advantage of the slave trade in Africa. The Atlantic slave trade brought African slaves to British, Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish colonies in the Americas, including the Caribbean. Slaves were brought to the Caribbean from the early 16th century until the end of the 19th century. The majority of slaves were brought to the Caribbean colonies between 1701 and 1810. In all likelihood they were not referred to as "the slave community."
When did the word "disrespect" become the popular term for anything that someone does that is not nice? When I grew up I only heard phrases such as "Never be disrespectful to your parents" or "Don't be disrespectful to your mother." Disrespectful was the word most often used, not disrespect.
And when someone was disrespectful, it was toward someone worthy of respect, such as an older person. No one ever thought to use it as in "Never disrespect your child." Children were not worthy of respect in the same way that your elders were. You loved your children, you taught your children, and you disciplined your children, but respect? Respect was what children were supposed to show their parents.
Now the term is used whenever something happens to you that you don't like. The clerk disrespected me. The guy in the car that cut me off disrespected me. Enough already!
Another overused and wrongly used word these days is "bully." Anytime someone shows aggression (usually a boy), they are labeled a "bully." Not only that, but being a "bully" is considered one of the worst things you can possibility be today. Go ahead, lie, cheat, steal, whatever, but just DON'T BE A BULLY. Even adult football players are now called "bullies" if they talk trash to their fellow players.
A lot of this nonsense comes from feminists and others who would like to stop the natural aggressive behavior of boys. Instead of worrying that boys might be too aggressive, we should be concerned that too many of our boys are losing their masculine identities. Incessantly picking on someone who is weaker than you are, is not the right thing to do nor is it the manly thing to do. It is what cowards do. But not all aggressive behavior is bullying, for Heaven's sake. Most of the time a healthy aggression and competiveness is normal in little boys. Little boys need to "man up" as a part of growing up and feminists need to deal with it.
Or am I just being a bully?
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© 2008, Greg Crosby