In our public and personal discourse, there are some words that must be used only with the utmost care. One is “Nazi.” Another is “slavery.” Both refer to horrific historic chapters in human history that called into question our humanity.
Unfortunately, we sometimes carelessly inject these words into our conversations in reference to something else entirely. By corrupting the meanings of these words, we disrespect those who suffered under fascism and slavery.
I read that the Los Alamos Republican Party has recently elected a new leadership team. I was shocked to find in “The Adopted Principles of the Republican Party of Los Alamos” a call for “leaders who will refocus governments on executing their legitimate tasks well instead of enslaving and bankrupting us.”
Americans rigorously debate the proper scope and function of government at all levels, but this claim that Los Alamos Republicans experience repression akin to what slaves in this country experienced for 250 years goes beyond the boundaries of truth and into the realm of the worst possible hyperbole.
The people who wrote and those who support this statement of “principle” lack sensitivity to the plight of 12.5 million Africans who were forcibly brought to the western hemisphere and to subsequent generations born into slavery. Our government is not exacting forced labor from millions, nor is it raping women, beating countless thousands of slaves, or separating children from their parents at slave auctions.
There is a modern counterpart to slavery – the estimated 21 million victims of human trafficking, but I doubt if that is the enslavement referenced in the Republican statement of “principles.”
The insensitivity of Los Alamos Republicans who somehow believe they are enslaved is crystal clear. The GOP “principle” addressing the failures of government appears even more ill-conceived when one considers that the reference to “enslaving… us” was apparently written by a group consisting largely of white people who live in a town where African Americans are .7 percent of the population (2013).
Furthermore, an inordinately high percentage of those of us who have lived in Los Alamos benefit from very good salaries paid by government, live out our retirement years on government pensions and Social Security, and enjoy government-funded healthcare. Enslaved? Hardly.
Republican leaders often proclaim their intent to broaden the party’s base. If that is ever to happen, those leaders need to be more thoughtful when putting pen to paper. Words do matter.