Sunday, August 21, 2016

Losing the slur 'philistines' is nothing to sneeze at

It is midsummer, and that means naturally I have the attention span of a Congressman at a beauty pageant.

Random thoughts bounce around my skull like ping pong balls on lottery day, except nobody wins. Random thought—who was Granny Smith and what did she have against apples?

Or this—have you ever come across anything that WAS something to sneeze at?

Recently I read that archaeologists discovered a 3000 year old burial site of some Philistines showing they had ornate pottery and toe rings and were not, well, philistines, after all. Mind blown. NOW what am I going to call ruffians who won't accept the state of Israel or can't quote any lyrics from "Hamilton"? Louts? Neanderthals? If memory serves, scientists now say it turns out Neanderthals weren't really philistines, either.

It is a hard thing during an election year to have one less word to throw at the bums on the other side. Pointing out a candidate's lack of sophistication or character or qualifications requires slurs, and lots of 'em.

Work with me, archaeologists! Find me a new tribe, a pile of bones showing a race of people who wore live cats as necklaces. Something! How did the Huns treat cats? Somebody google that.

The Huns got a bad rap in World War I themselves, or rather the Germans did, being derisively called Huns, even though the Huns were nomadic Asians who hadn't been around for a millennium. It was wartime. We didn't care. In wartime or in an election year you just need a good short slam. Accuracy be damned. Something pithy. Ideally something with an f-sound. Philistines was perfect. I just might sob.

"Nabob" is pretty great, best used in Vice President Spiro Agnew's sneering "nattering nabobs of negativity," but young people don't know it. They would probably assume it meant residents of Naboo, a peaceful planet in "Star Wars," where democracy runs cleanly and without rancor, like an Amish bachelorette party.

I may have to coin something. How about "whacks," a combo of witless and hacks. Or "fombies," the latter part being zombies and the first part you can figure out.

"Troglodyte" is great, as it refers to a cave dweller or someone who is "deliberately ignorant." The ironic thing is, if they would just stay in the cave, we wouldn't know they were deliberately ignorant. Oh, this election year, if only it were so.

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