KJ Hannah Greenberg

Rhetoric and Reason: Part Two

Until good triumphs over evil, the world needs to be made aware of what constitutes evil. We need to urged the questioning of sources for and content of all messages. It’s wayward, for instance, to assume that it’s okay that hundreds of Israelis were slaughtered, that thousands were wounded, and that babies, handicapped persons, and holocaust survivors (along with other elders) are among the hostages taken to Gaza (no one should be taken hostage—that weak persons were culled demonstrates the depth of wickedness which the world ought to be confronting.)

Our civilization is ignoring the utilitarian similitude between beliefs and exchanges, is epitomizing “morality” as consisting “only” of patterned symbolic/emotional starting points and is classifying “substance” as comprehensible via laws, rules, and systems. By splitting our categorizations, we’re neglecting to probe incommensurate moral orders or to place stoppages on inadequate representations of controversial involvements. Israel’s army might be leveling terrorist barracks, but the evildoers are succeeding, for the moment, in daunting human development, in increasingly muting Israel’s voice.

Modern society must recognize its need to reify individual self-esteem and institutional well-being. It mustn’t acting worse than sheep per mindlessness.

Because of global foolishness, Israel’s suffering diminished communication returns. Humanity, temporarily, is turned upside down. Note that protesters in Washington and in other “friendly” nations are literally shouting for genocide.

Whereas, during other spans, Israel has “correctly,” modified herself, mostly, history shows that humanity’s rarely cognizant of words’ influence on our deeds. It looks as if only sometimes that when souls suggest that “morality” belongs to particular types of behaviors, as a guide to them, or as a means for adjudicating existent guides, are our eyes open1 In short, we’re still living in a realm of double standards.

Duplicitous rhetoric leads us to adscititious dialogue. Also, it impairs our ability to generate, maintain, and amend compassionate existence2. There’s no coincidence that the world’s love of “fast media” has brought us to this brink of cognitive illiteracy.

More exactly, as long as we fail to promote actual intellectual freedom, we’ll continue to be unable to fully examine international goings-on. Our reactions to events will keep on being inconsistent or will keep on conflicting with our stated notions of what constitutes a proper here and now 3. Weigh how “comrades” of Israel insist that baby murderers are obliged to be excused on the grounds that those exterminators might have had due cause.

The aforementioned is ironic. Normally, when individuals or communities recognize phenomena by rubrics differing from those which they claim to champion, their contentions lose credibility. “A major [assimilating] function of … metalinguistic and metacognitive terms, then, is to [normalize] the utterance of others,”4 to incorporate antiestablishment thinking among more prevalent views. Then again, despite their pompous word wrangling, the leaders of Europe did nothing to prevent the Holocaust or to quickly rescue its survivors.

Today, as well, it looks as though no matter how loudly or frequently detractors skreich, or how acutely their words negate the positions behind which they earlier tendered to stand, they go unchallenged when referring to themselves as “champions of justice.”

Hitherto, those fighters cower before depravity. They employ their people as human shields and sacrifice their young in their drive to embrace not life but death.

Ostensibly, cause and effect are supposed to matter. In spite of this veracity, to too  many people, they don’t.

Become conscious of the certainty that Hamas enacted a program and have the further intent of liquidation. Be aware that Israel wants to ensure her people’s well-being.

We’ve come to expect that forays into the authenticity of communication are well served by questions about idiosyncratic and collective roles and rules and about inclusive yardsticks for judging communication phenomena. Contrariwise, at the moment, fictions prevail. The same yardsticks that caused international indignation around the Rohingya event, around the Uyghur event, and around the mass killing of the Yazidis, should have raised a cry against the massacre that occurred in Kibbutz Beeri. The ensuing silence proves that the world has a different standard for Israel than for other nations.

Notwithstanding these perversions, communication’s potency dictates that we must become responsible for our intake of and creation of words. Scruples fortify semantic weight and semantic weight marks reality visa vis referential features. It is imperative that we become better informed about ideas’ origins, that we illuminate the nexus of rhetoric and reason.

We mortals are plagued not only by government scandals, insider trading, the stifling of workers’ descriptions of wrongdoings, felonious health care, and environmental dilemmas, but also by a tolerance for annihilation. “[M]oral judgments and evaluative words are instruments by which [we] seek to influence the attitudes and behavior of other people”5. Now more than ever, it’s essential that we take stock of our exchanges.

  1. M. Rosenthal, M., and P. Yudin. Eds. Richard D. Dixon and Murad Saifulin. Trans. “Ethics.” A Dictionary of Philosophy. Moscow: Progress, 1967, 149-150, 149.
  2. Shakti Gawain. Living in the Light: A Guide to Personal and Planetary Transformation. Novato, CA: New World Library, 1986, 91-102; and Alasdair MacIntyre. After Virtue, 2nd ed. U Notre Dame, 1984, 30
  3. Karen Joy Greenberg. “The Deficit of Research on Higher Education Instructional Communication Ethics.” The Massachusetts Journal of Communication. 9.1. 1990, 13-17, 13-24.
  4. Janet W. Astington and David R. Olson. “Talking about Text: How Literacy Contributes to Thought.” Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, 1990, 16.
  5. Kenneth J. Dover, Greek Popular Morality in the Time of Plato and Aristotle. Basil Blackwell, 1974, 4.
About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.
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