COUNTER OPINION to opinion of St. George News columnist Dallas Hyland (See: April 27 ON Kilter: Bundy, revolutionary or rebel? The changing nature of the West) – To be charged with racism in today’s America is a serious thing. So serious in fact, that to be labeled as such can destroy a person’s life. The news is constantly full of examples of people who get crucified for making statements or holding views that can be described as racist.
Last week, an obscure Nevada rancher who had been living rent free in the minds of millions of Americans for his courageous stand against a militarized bureaucracy, attempted to point out the harmful effects of America’s welfare state. He used language that drew immediate charges of racism–ironically, language similar in tone to language used by another Nevadan, Senator Harry Reid when he introduced the world to President Obama by using the words “light-skinned” and having “no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”
Language being what it is, the ability to use it and interpret meaning from it is based completely upon the sum of a persons life experience. In Mr Bundy’s case, he speaks what his family affectionately refers to as “Bunkertucky Slang,” a very distinctive dialect that is found nowhere else on Earth.
At the speed of light, the world took issue with Cliven’s statements. His detractors ascribed him with a racist heart. His supporters groaned and wished he had the help of a PR expert before exposing himself to a hostile media. What he really needed was an interpreter. But his choice of words sounded enough like the same English that a majority of cosmopolitan Americans speak. So they missed the fact that they missed what he was really saying. Many voices gleefully encouraged the media to keep the microphone in front of Cliven so that he could discredit himself.
Having known many of the close friends and family of Cliven Bundy for several years, I am familiar enough with Bunkertucky Slang that I thought it my duty to stand up for the man and defend his real intent to the purveyors of racial strife who were casting aspersions on him. For several days, I waded into the conversations happening in social media. In my own blend of dialects that reflect Mona, Boston, Cambodia, St Louis, Roosevelt, Provo, the Arizona Strip, LaVerkin, and St George, I attempted expose the hypocrisy of using the language of racism to spin its hurtful web.
So did I hear what I almost heard? In an April 27 op-ed penned by Dallas Hyland titled “ON Kilter: Bundy, revolutionary or rebel? The changing nature of the West,” Dallas insinuates in strong terms that those who sympathize with the plight of Cliven Bundy, indeed the original culture of Southern Utah are inherently racist.
It is a rich irony that an esteemed social commentator with Hyland’s command of language is using the language of racism to demonize, demoralize and knock us “OFF Kilter.” Society’s aversion to the racist label is so strong, it can be used to instill shame, fear and loathing upon anyone who gets painted with it. Dallas reveals his own intolerance when he engages in the same bad behavior that he accuses an entire class and culture of people of engaging by inferring that supporters of the Bundy family harbor some form of racist mindset. To play on Shakespeare’s words, “A skunk by any other name would smell as rank,” which is to say, that what things really are matters more than the labels affixed to them.
It is my hope then, that we will be kinder to Dallas as we attempt to understand the distinctly different, native-to-himself dialect that he brings to our amazing community when he wields the power of language in his bully pulpit.
We can remedy the strife and division fostered by race hustlers when we reject their false premise. We must not be intimidated into silence by their mean spirited, self righteous accusations of blasphemy–which oddly, is still a serious crime in the age of enlightened-tolerance. Our own use of language can, and should, be used to lift, encourage and unite.
The native religious culture in our community teaches us that all are God’s children–our native political culture, that we children are created equally. And THAT is a culture worth celebrating with all the power of language we can muster.
Submitted by Dr. Paul Gooch
Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them; they do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News.
- ON Kilter: Bundy, revolutionary or rebel? The changing nature of the West
- Right or wrong, controversy surrounding Cliven Bundy continues
- On Kilter: Bundy won, America lost
- Bundy calls on sheriffs to disarm federal agencies; STGnews Videocast
- Range War: BLM withdraws, cattle released after standoff
- Range war: BLM, protesters clash, rancher’s son hit with stun gun
- Congressmen urge BLM to keep seized cattle out of Utah
- Range war: Rancher’s son arrested by BLM, later released; transport of impound cattle put on hold
- Letter to the Editor: The spirit of the West; range war
- Letter to the Editor: Bundy forfeited right to graze cattle; counter opinion, range war
- Range war: BLM, Iron County to work together on feral horse issue – Iron County
- Range war: County resolves to solve wild horse problem if BLM prioritizes Bundy cattle – Iron County
- Range war: County Commissioners oppose BLM bringing Bundy cattle to Utah – Washington County
- Range war: Rancher stands defiant as BLM moves to impound ‘trespass cattle’
- Perspectives: The Bundys vs the bureaucracy
- ON Kilter: Trespass cattleman not above the law
- BLM, National Park Service close public lands due to trespassing cattle dispute
- ‘Where’s the line?’ Ivory’s crusade to return public lands to the states
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