Sin of Silence

Silence is golden at a Buddhist retreat, a poetry reading or a walk along the river so that you can hear the bubbling and flowing of the water and the honking and wing flapping of the Canada geese flying in perfect formation over head.

In these times of bloodshed and unrest and rebellion, silence is anything but golden and is more like a tetanus-laced rusty can that threatens to infect and rip the nation apart. It is a time for blunt and emotional honesty by elected officials from the town hall to the Capitol and it is not a time for smiley face memes or happy homilies like let’s all get together or Facebook pages filled with happy birthday wishes or registration alerts for kiddie soccer.

Those officials who do not speak out forcefully will be interpreted as either weak or worse, complicit, giving tacit approval to those who would destroy us in a sea of bigotry, anti-Semitism, hatred, misogyny, intolerance, anger, xenophobia, in short, everything that we should strive to defeat if we are to survive as a country.

It is not a time for mixed messages and qualified, partisan statements that only muddy the waters and leave people confused and lost. There is no room for statements opposing the attack on the Capitol and at the same time equating it to the street protests following killings of unarmed African Americans. Those protests had meaning, the mob attacks are only violent and evil.

A silent politician is like the child who closes his eyes and expects the problems will disappear or the politicians who run and hide to set up the barricades in their offices while claiming they are too busy to comment. These politicians watched as right wing extremists flooded their emails with demands to defeat gun control proposals. They listened without comment while bigots left threatening messages in the mailboxes of Muslim residents and they kept their mouths zipped tight when a president demeaned women and minorities and fomented rebellion. And we can all see the results of the cowardly silence. Those who say they didn’t see it coming are either bind or liars or really didn’t find fault, as in a president who said there were good people among the white supremacists who rallied in Virginia.

Government proclamations with flowery words that dance around the dangers won’t do it, apologists who fear a backlash from constituents who cheer for the madness to continue and elected officials who dodge honest statements and instead try to shift the blame to the other side are not acceptable.

The elected officials who back away from commenting on the current madness have no such reluctance during political campaigns when they vilify their opponents with lies and exaggerations but now the chickens have come home to roost.

You officials who dodge and weave to avoid honesty are nothing more than Pecksniffians, a reference to Seth Pecksniff, a character with a holier-than-thou attitude in Charles Dickens’s 1844 novel “Martin Chuzzlewit.” Pecksniff liked to preach morality and brag about his own virtue, but in reality he was a deceptive rascal who would use any means to advance his own selfish interests. It didn’t take long for Pecksniff’s reputation for canting sanctimoniousness to leave its mark on English; “Pecksniffian” has been used as a synonym of “hypocritical” since 1849.

So there, all you backhanded, counterfeit, double-dealing, double-faced, fake, feigned, hypocritical, insincere, Janus-faced, jive, left-handed, lip, mealy, phony-baloney, two-faced, unctuous leaders of our great land.

What’s more, you engage in language that appears to be earnest and meaningful but in fact is a mixture of sense and nonsense, otherwise double-talk, otherwise known as bafflegab, “deliberately obscure language employed in official documents;” gibberish, nonsense, folderol, or claptrap.

This is not a time for timidity, it demands vocal outrage.



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