An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
AMONG THE MANY LISTS we like to make at the turn of each year are those of popular new words.
“Vax,” for example, was declared the 2021 word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary.
While COVID-related terms were all the rage, they’ll hopefully be less important in 2022.
In fact, there are lots of words we could stand to hear less often in 2022. “Unprecedented” is high on the list, partly because there were too many unprecedented events in 2021 and partly because it has become so over-used.
Others include the incredibly trite “agency,” which is often mis-used but is supposed to denote freedom of choice.
Another is “gaslighting.” It means abusive manipulation but it’s used more often to mean “dismissive,” which isn’t what it means at all.
There’s one word, above all the rest, that needs to be re-assessed. That word is “racism.” If we hear less of it due to the fact there is less of it, that would, of course, be ideal.
Racism is defined as discrimination against an individual or entire race based on a belief that that race is inferior. It was once a very serious, even shocking, accusation to make. Now, though, it’s used so often that it’s becoming background noise.
It’s become a common insult to be thrown at anyone who disagrees with someone else’s opinion, whether it has anything to do with racial equality or not.
Politicians and social-media trolls seem never to miss an opportunity to accuse opponents of racism, no matter what the issue. In Kamloops, a proposal to build a treatment centre for the drug addicted and mentally ill was inexplicably labeled as racist.
Racism is a blight and we need to talk about it a lot more without diluting the word through frivolous use. We should focus on the true issue, not create distractions by using race terminology simply as a means to disparage those with dissenting opinions on all manner of subjects.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.