Queer & Present: Lesson 4, Distinguishing Particular Words

February 13, 2017 in inQueery

In our post-Muslim exclusion order world this lesson has particular importance.

Timothy Snyder writes: “When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.  Look out for the expansive use of ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism.’  Be alive to the fatal notions of ‘exception’ and ’emergency.’  Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.”


The title of the president’s order is “Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.”  This is a textbook case of the language Snyder is addressing.

The mandate for the executive order is ‘to keep America safe,” another clearly treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.  There is no evidence that acceptance of refugees and the entry of muslims make America unsafe.  The real motive is racism and religious bigotry.  Be angry, and stay aware.

Going forward, I think we will have to adopt a decoding process for the administration’s pronouncements similar to what the citizens of the USSR used to have to do.  The administration will be trying to scare us, knowing that it is much easier to scare people than to convince them that they are safe.  Our job will always be to see past the scare tactics to their real motivations.



Stan Stansbury is a Contributor at InQueery.