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Who Are The Barbarians?

During this election cycle, a cry goes up from the fearful masses, “The Barbarians are coming!”. This, however, begs the question, who are we and who the Barbarians? The Oxford English Dictionary[1] defines five meanings of the noun barbarian.

  • 1. etymologically, A foreigner, one whose language and customs differ from the speaker's.
  • 2. Hist. a. One not a Greek. b. One living outside the pale of the Roman empire and its civilization, applied especially to the northern nations that overthrew them. c. One outside the pale of Christian civilization. d. With the Italians of the Renascence: One of a nation outside of Italy.
  • 3. A rude, wild, uncivilized person. b. Sometimes distinguished from savage (perh. with a glance at 2). c. Applied by the Chinese contemptuously to foreigners.
  • 4. An uncultured person, or one who has no sympathy with literary culture.
  • 5. A native of Barbary. Obs.

Let us first examine the Republican presidential candidate who began his long and odious campaign on June 16, 2015 with the statement on Mexican immigrants: 'They're bringing drugs,' crime and are 'rapists'. This seems to imply, based on definitions one and three, that he believes that Mexicans fit the model of a barbarian. Later he adds Muslims and most immigrants to his list. This sentiment has fed the fires of fear and hatred, long a smoldering sentiment, in his far right political base. If you witness the fervor of a Trump rally, listening to the pronouncements of his supporters, you can visualize people with torches and pitchforks, rushing to repel the barbarians at the gate. So that makes immigrants and Mexicans the barbarians, but not so fast.

Before some of my readers become smug, a leading liberal news site, in an article entitled , “The Alt Right: Barbarians At The Gates…” stated in counterpoint; “The alt right movement is an insurgent, racially tinged one that seeks to dismantle traditional conservative institutions to provide a political voice to an array of exiles on the far right. These include, but are not limited to, a unified array of influential hard-core racists and conspiracists, who oppose contemporary political processes, institutions, and both political parties as threatening not only national security, but the Euro-centric traditions of the nation as well with ‘white genocide.’ ”[2]

Mr. Trump, the founder of this vitriolic feast, himself fits definition three and four of a barbarian. The bastion of center, The New York Times, supports this in op-ed by Charles M. Blow entitled “Donald Trump, Barbarian at the Debate”. Trump has planted the seeds of hate deep and watered them well. We, as good, caring and sane people, must take up the challenge to prevent the harvesting of this crop. Our first duty is to ensure that Mr. Trump never sits in the Oval Office. Our second duty, equally important, is to change the dialog between the right and left, addressing the extremes at both ends of the spectrum. Those at these limits are driven by real or perceived fears that we should address with action, not belittlement and scorn. Labeling


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbarian

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-levin-jd/the-alt-right-barbarians_b_11706250.html

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