To Refudiate or Not to Refudiate, That is the Question
by Charles Lemos, Mon Jul 19, 2010 at 04:37:04 AM EDT
Last week, an aide in the Mitt Romney camp suggested that Sarah Palin wasn't a viable contender for the 2012 GOP nomination. "If she's standing up there in a debate and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she's in trouble," said the unnamed aide cited in a widely circulated article by Time's Mark Halperin. Methinks that might have been a tad too generous. As if on cue, St. Sarah of the Self-Immolation has once again graced us with her own curious penchant for political self flagellation. True, to her crazed followers, St. Sarah of the Tea Party is worthy of veneration no matter the transgression, in this case largely linguistic though there is a political angle as well, because, after all, all one needs in life according to the gospel of St. Sarah is conservative commonsense. The rest is just pesky details like facts, hard economic data or the historical record.
This weekend St. Sarah self-immolated in less than 140 characters via her Twitter account.
Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.
If at first you don't succeed, well, delete and try again:
Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.
Yeah, refute means to "prove (a statement or theory) to be wrong or false; that is to disprove" or "to deny the truth or accuracy of a statement" as in to refute an allegation. Perhaps if I used it in a sentence: I cannot refute the fact that Sarah Palin is a moron for every time she opens her mouth she doth prove it. And what's with the "peaceful" New Yorkers? Are there war-like New Yorkers? Or if one is for this mosque, which isn't on the World Trade Center site but rather near it, does that then mean one isn't "peaceful"?
Well, the third time is surely the charm.
Peace-seeking Muslims pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.
It might serve St. Sarah of the Unlearned to learn that there have been Muslims in the United States since early in the colonial period, certainly before 1700 and probably as early as 1630. Of the approximately 388,000 Africans who landed in American ports during the colonial period, almost 92,000 (24 percent) were Senegambian Muslims most of whom were forcibly converted to Christianity. The most celebrated case of a Muslim in colonial America is that of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (also known as Job ibn Solomon Dgiallo), a well educated Muslim merchant who was kidnapped and enslaved in the early 1730s. The scion of an aristocratic clerical Fulani family, he was captured in 1730 near the mouth of the River Gambia and shipped to Annapolis, Maryland in 1731, where he was delivered as chattel to Mr. V. Denton who then sold Diallo to Mr. Alexander Tolsey of Kent Island, Maryland. While in Maryland and after attempting to escape, Diallo wrote a letter to his father. The letter came to the attention of James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia and at the time the director of Royal African Company, who then purchased Diallo's freedom for ₤45. Oglethorpe also secured for him a passage to London where he stayed for two years before returning home to work for the Royal African Company in the Senegambia. Through the publication of his Memoirs in 1734, Diallo had an important and lasting impact on Europe's understanding of West African culture, black identity and Islam. Advocates for the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery would also later cite Diallo as a key figure when assserting the moral rights and humanity of Africans. It might also served St. Sarah of the Willfully Ignorant to know that Diallo sat for a painting by William Hoare, a painting that the National Portrait Gallery in London is currently attempting to acquire for its collection because of its historic importance.
Or St. Sarah of the Profanely Intolerant and of the Gloriously Obtuse might care to know that several hundred Muslims died in the attacks of September 11. Do Americans of the Islamic faith not have a right to share their grief on "sacred ground" or are some religions preferable to others? Seriously, Sarah heal thyself and get thee to a library.
But let's go for four! How much worse can it get?
"Refudiate," "misunderestimate," "wee-wee'd up." English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!
So now she thinks she's St. Sarah of the Bard. You're not helping your cause. In linguistic terms, what St. Sarah is attempting is a blend, a word formed from parts of two or more other words. But let's face it, St. Sarah just ain't that bright or that clever a wordsmith. No doubt, she is certainly savvy in her manipulation of the hapless, dumb and dumber crowd that forms the electoral bedrock of American conservatism but to suggest that she is coining a new word here stretches credibility. A blend has a certain flair for the obvious like breakfast + lunch = brunch. Here, it's all too easily discernible that St. Sarah the Dumbass cannot distinguish between refute and repudiate. Refute, by the way, is an eighth grade reading level word.
Then again, this isn't the first time St. Sarah of Uncommon Nonsense has made no sense.
Her answer is so unintelligible that it requires a transcript.
Bill O'Reilly: Let me be very bold and fresh again, do you believe that you are smart enough, incisive enough, intellectual enough to handle the most powerful job in the world?
Sarah Palin: I believe that I am because I have common sense and I have I believe the values that I think are reflective of so many other American values, and I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the uhm, the ah, a kind of spineless, spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite, Ivy league education and, and a fat resume that is based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles. Americans are could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership, I'm not saying that that has to be me.
And as others have noted, this isn't the first time that St. Sarah of the Seventh Grade Vocabulary has used the blend "refudiate." She did so on July 14th while appearing on Sean Hannity show in her role as a Fox News analyst. Calling the Tea Party movement "a beautiful movement of patriotic Americans," she went on to call on the President to "refudiate" the NAACP's charges that the Tea Party movement is racist. Her butchering of the English language comes at the 2:37 mark.
Here's the relevant part of the transcript:
Well it's- it's very unfortunate that they're- they're taking this tactic because it's a false accusation that tea-party Americans are racist. Any good American hates racism. We don't stand for it. It is unacceptable. So to be called a racist – yeah, those over there on the left who are opposing that good message of tea-party Americans are using this racism accusation in order to keep people away from not only the movement but keeping them- keeping a wall built between what the message actually is and the American public that is today receiving that message very well. It- it- False accusation, very unfortunate, and again very very unnecessary. And the president and his wife, you know the first lady spoke at NAACP so recently, they have power in their words. They could refudiate what it is that this group is saying, and they could set the record straight. And they could- they could correct what this false accusation is that the tea party American, that movement, is racist.
This from a woman who as a college student left Hawaii because the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uneasy. According to Chuck Heath, Palin's father, the presence of so many Asians and Pacific Islanders made her uncomfortable: "They were a minority type thing and it wasn't glamorous, so she came home." She would finish her education at the University of Idaho, noting that she preferred Idaho "because it was much like Alaska yet still 'Outside.' " Idaho is also 94.6 percent white and only 1.1 percent Asian.
Here's what the Language Log at the University of Pennsylvania, one of those elitist Ivy institutions that St. Sarah the Perpetually Chastened rails against, has to say on the matter in a post entitled Refudiate?
The repetition means two things, one not very important, the other one more consequential.
The unimportant one is that the original example wasn't a slip of the tongue, but a symptom of the fact that Ms. Palin had a blend of repudiate and refute as a well-established entry in her mental lexicon. This is unimportant because politics is not a vocabulary contest. What's more serious, in my opinion, is that she didn't get set straight about the words in question by any of her advisors and friends, or for that matter by anyone at Fox. She was widely ridiculed for the error, at least in the blogosphere, and so you'd think that a functional staff would intervene to prevent future embarrassment.
The use of refudiate in today's tweet was also noted by bloggers, and was then removed within half an hour or so, showing that someone in her entourage is on the ball. But why didn't the first mistake get brought to her attention? This suggests that either her staff is not very efficient, or they're afraid to bring certain kinds of problems to her attention, or both.
To be fair to Palin, this isn't the first time a politician has used the blend "refudiate." According to Jonathan Lighter, the author of Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, in November 2006 former GOP Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio called on Democrats to "refudiate the statement" made by Senator John Kerry about Iraq. Like St. Sarah, Senator DeWine had his slips of the tongue on Fox. Who knows perhaps the air at Fox News is fatal to erudition, it certainly seems toxic to political discourse.
At any rate, being mocked isn't a good thing, especially among people who you know actually read and can think for themselves. On Twitter, a new trending topic is #Movies with Refudiate. I suppose if my question is to refudiate or not to refudiate, my answer is simply thus: I refudiate Sarah Palin but otherwise I'll refrain from refudiation.