Am I an orthographical fifth columnist?

For comic relief in this uncomfortable weather, I suggest a look at the anti-Semite Tanstaafl’s attack on me at his website, “The Age of Treason.” He says I’m a hypocrite and fifth columnist against the white race because I advocate following conventional spelling usage and writing “white,” as in “white people,” in lower case. Tanstaafl writes “White people,” and—making it unmistakable where he’s coming from—“jew.” He says that my use of the lower case “white,” while I also write “Jew,” shows that I’m really trying to weaken whites and elevate Jews over them. Further, he thinks I contradict myself when that I criticize the British for writing “the west,” and “western civilization,” in lower case. But of course “Western civilization” and “the West” are proper names, not just directions on a map. At the same time, if every time I mentioned a white person, I had to write, “he’s White,” to me it would look ridiculous. “European,” “Westerner,” and “Caucasian” are proper names; “white man” is not.

Things should be treated according to their nature. To spell a proper name in lower case is to diminish the category being referred to . To write “the west” is to diminish the West. To write “the jews,” is to dehumanize the Jews. But to write “white people,” is not to diminish or dehumanize white people, because that’s simply the correct way of writing that phrase. Tanstaafl says I’m elevating Jews over whites. But I also write “whites” and “Asians.” Does that mean I’m elevating Asians over whites? Then what happened to my agenda of Jewish supremacism? Am I also an Asian supremacist? Further, what happens when I write “Westerners” and “nonwhite people”? Have I suddenly reversed myself and am now giving more stature to whites (i.e. Westerners) than to nonwhites? Or, when I speak of “Europeans” and “blacks,” am I being pro-European and anti-black, but if I instead write “whites” and “Negroes,” I’ve suddenly switched to Negro supremacism? How ridiculous. Capitalization is governed by the nature of the word, not by a political or racial agenda. But racial ideologues like Tanstaafl, whose intellects are profoundly distorted by hatred, mainly hatred of Jews (Tanstaafl has proudly declared that the Jews are his enemy), are incapable of seeing beyond the most primitive simplifications.

Tanstaafl starts off the article by claiming that he used to find me valuable, but then recently realized, as a result of my comments on capitalization, that I’m a fifth columnist for the Jews, excuse me, jews. But in fact Tanstaafl had already smoked me out last year, and on more than one occasion, e.g., this and this. But in order to dramatize my treason to the white race and establish his own bona fides, he has to claim that he has been suckered by me all along and has only just realized at this moment how bad I am. He’s like those liberals who pretend to be conservatives and call up Rush Limbaugh and say, “Rush, I’ve been a rock-ribbed Republican all my life, but when you said the other day that you believe in the free market and oppose homosexual marriage, well, that was too right-wing for me, I’ve had it with you, Rush.”

By the way, I also disagree with capitalizing pronouns referencing the deity. Does that mean I’m a fifth columnist for atheism? In my view, it’s distracting and unnatural to write or read “He” and “Him” as pronouns referencing God. It’s just a pronoun! Do we add one iota to God’s dignity by capitalizing a pronoun? Will we lose belief in God if we only call him “him”? And what about Jesus, shall all of his pronouns be capitalized? While we’re at it, why not add “peace be upon him,” every time we speak of him, or rather Him? Maybe that will really add to his divine dignity. Notice that the King James Bible does not capitalize pronouns referring to God or Jesus. Is the King James Bible missing something? Is it disrespecting God? Is it insufficiently elevated?

Of course, this is a subjective area, and people will have different opinions about it. But to me excessive capitalization is a weight on the mind. Language, including the spelling of words, should be a window through which we convey and receive truth as clearly as possible, without unnecessary obstructions. Forcing a religious message onto a mere pronoun is an example of the heavy, formalistic piety that gets in the way of the fresh experience of truth.

- end of initial entry -

Adela G. writes:

You write:

By the way, I also disagree with capitalizing pronouns referencing the deity. Does that mean I’m a fifth columnist for atheism? In my view, it’s distracting and unnatural to write or read “He” and “Him” as pronouns referencing God. It’s just a pronoun! Do we add one iota to God’s dignity by capitalizing a pronoun?

Initially, I was crushed to learn that you prefer a usage so casual as to be off-hand. But then I was reminded of the wonderful short story by Heinrich Boll, “Murke’s Collected Silences.” In it, a public speaker decides that he will henceforth refer to God as “O Thou higher Being Whom we revere.”

Obviously, someone like yourself who objects to capitalizing pronouns referring to God is not likely to adopt the cumbersome but undeniably reverent, “O Thou higher Being Whom we revere” when mentioning Him (him). But this might be a suitable phrase for referring to you, once Austerism over the West is established.

I’m thinking of asking the ever-watchful Robert Spencer if this meets with his approval, since it was he who came up with that memorable phrase for your ascendancy. I am sure all your lackeys, followers, sycophants, minions, etc. would be delighted to refer to you in that way. Indeed, I predict that once they are acquainted with it, they will be unable to think of you in any other.

P.S. It’s not that I don’t take seriously the fact of your being subjected to so much unwarranted and downright hysterical hostility. It’s just that I cannot take seriously anyone who feels that way about you. Of course, I know well that ridiculous people can do damage. But that doesn’t make them any less ridiculous. And I will have my fun at their expense, oh yes, I will.

LA writes:

Another person who, like Tanstaafl, had a sudden realization that I am a traitor is Conservative Swede. Once upon a time, Swede’s saga goes (in its current version), he liked me because he thought I was pro-West and anti-Islamization. But then Something Happened. In a theoretical discussion at VFR about an extreme hypothetical situation (i.e., Europeans are living under a liberal tyranny where they are being forced to accept all kinds of sexual abominations as normal, while Muslim invaders are at the gate of the city), I said that under such circumstances some people would be tempted to open the gate of the city to the Muslims. Reading this, Swede had an epiphany and “realized” that I’m more opposed to liberalism than I am to Islam, or, to put it another way, that I care more about traditionalist ideology than I do about defending the West. Thus he used this one speculative discussion—in which I was not laying out my own position, but trying to explain other people’s thinking—as the basis for declaring that all my writings on Islam are a fake, and that I am a liar and deceiver, because, as he saw it, I really don’t believe in defending the West from Islam, I just believe in conservatism (i.e. Christianity).

Or at least that’s his current version of his turn against me. At the time, last summer, far from accusing me of having betrayed the West, he grandly announced that he had given up on defending the West because it was a lost cause (because all existing Western factions were under the debilitating influence of the Jewish God), and so he was dropping out and getting into black culture. But then three months later, in October ‘07, he renounced his renunciation of the West and showed up at the anti-Islamization conference in Brussels.

Kristor writes (posted July 22):

With respect to capitalization, the way I have always parsed it is to capitalize proper names and the names of archetypes, but not particular instantiations thereof. Thus Truth as such I would capitalize, whereas a particular truth I would not. Since God is the archetype of being, I capitalize all references to Him; as the archetype of being, He is Being. It’s not a question of making Him feel better by my capitalizations. When we glorify God, we do not thereby increase His Glory, but rather our apprehension thereof—and thus our own glory.

LA replies:

Do you capitalize pronouns referencing Christ?

Kristor replies:

Good question. Gets right to the heart of the intellectual difficulty inherent in the idea of the Incarnation, doesn’t it? I have always thoughtlessly capitalized personal pronouns referring to Jesus, because he is God. But now that I think about it, my first inclination is to say that references to Jesus should be in lower case, because he is a particular instantiation of God. But then, by the same token, so should references to the persons of the Trinity be in lower case. For the persons are particular instantiations of what the Pseudo-Areopagite called the Super-Essential Godhead, that being the only entity that is prior to, and superior to, and subvenient to, any particularity—including those particular entities comprising the Trinity that are themselves, considered as a system, the actualization of the Super-Essential Godhead. As is usual with questions touching on the Trinity, I shall have to contemplate upon this a bit more…

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 18, 2008 10:28 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):