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Seeing demons


Demonize is the hot verb in political discourse these days.

"The Wall Street Journal ignores GOP priorities to accuse Obama of demonizing his opponents."

"The NRA president said that the commission was demonizing the Second Amendment."

To demonize an opponent is to make him sound really bad, so that when you abuse him, you can claim he's only getting what he deserves. Arkansas legislators have demonized women, to justify the anti-abortion bills the lawmakers are passing. "The colonel's lady and Judy O'Grady are demons under the skin," as Kipling didn't quite say.

The name of the Wake Forest University athletic teams is Demon Deacons. I wonder if they ever get demonized, as in "Tar Heels demonize Wake, demand exorcism of fieldhouse." Wake players could be either demonized or deaconized, for that matter. Both sound unflattering, at least to non-Baptists.


From a review of "The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War":

"The French and Indian War began the glorious process of our own independence but precipitated our regretful destruction of native Americans' way of life and culture."

Regretful means, obviously, "full of regret." I don't think the people who were busily destroying native Americans' way of life and culture felt any regrets at the time.

It was only much later that society began to view that destruction as "unfortunate, deplorable" — that is, regrettable, which is the word the reviewer was reaching for.

Why did the European leave? 

A headline in the editorial section of the Sunday paper — "The European Left and it's trouble with Jews" — prompted a note from Richard W. Chapman: "Where is the apostrophe police when we need them?" Over at the doughnut shop, probably, while the apostrophes are on a rampage. Or am I demonizing the punctuation cops?


"It was cut and dry, no ifs, ands or buts. There's a right way, a wrong way and an Army way." In this case, the right way is cut and dried.

Nobody seems to have a generally accepted explanation of the phrase's origin. I've heard that it has to do with pioneers turning meat into jerky. I've also heard that that story is malarkey.

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