Words mean what they have come to mean, and word origins fade into the ever deepening darkness of the past, but as an English teacher and wannabe poet, I am interested in the origins of words. I am not anti-semantic.
I have, of course, been accused of being anti-semitic, even though I’m half Jewish, because anybody who says anything critical about Israel gets that epithet hurled at them, and anybody who’s not saying anything critical about Israel in our current times is just not paying attention.
Whenever it comes up, though, there is always some clever clogs who feels the need to point out that Arabs are semitic, too. Which is true, of course. But, irrelevant. The term anti-semitic has come to mean anti-Jewish and for anti-Arabic we say Islamophobic. Yes, I’m aware that Arabic is a race, Islam is a religion, and the two are not the same thing. Whatever, the Venn overlap is big enough.
You could also say that people from the U.S. shouldn’t call themselves Americans, because there are two whole continents chock-full of people who share that literal definition. However, saying United Statesians would just sound like crap, so we carry on.
What got me thinking about this is how there are so many Democratic candidates the press constantly labels ‘progressive’ when, quite clearly, they are not. Progressive is from the root progress, which means moving forward, and you aren’t moving forward if you are against solar and wind energy, because they not only are cleaner than coal and oil, they can also be made cheap, and massive. In the future, we will think of energy as something similar to air, the way we used to think of water and I hope some day we will again. That would be progress.