At the end of the day, when we go to bed and we think about what has been said to us and about us we realize that words have weight and significance because they have the power of destruction. Words have meaning and have the power to hurt us profusely. Even the most empty of words and jokes themselves have some truth and meaning behind them. At the end of the day words should not be taken lightly because of the power that we as humans have given them to mean something.
Our recently elected president, Donald Trump has stirred up many groups with his comments and attacks on certain people like women, Mexicans, and Muslims just to mention a few. Since the very beginning when he was running his presidential campaign his discourse on undocumented immigrants was very negative. Many people were upset and hurt with his comments made on specific racial groups, mainly that of Mexicans. He labeled many to be criminal and rapists, an assumption made on behalf of a few but yet applied to all Mexicans. He certainly triggered many responses; mainly negative ones because of the offense his words brought onto people.
The idea of building a wall between the Mexican and American border was once just that, an idea; something that came out of his mouth. Many Americans have come to learn that Trump is not meant to be taken as a joke because he does act upon his words. To a certain degree his words are dangerous and pose a threat to many who are not White or male. The possibility of having a billionaire business man with an almost non-existent political background as a president seemed minute and was even taken as a joke only for many Americans in this country to be proven wrong; myself included. His words had power, they influenced many and won over millions of votes as a result leading to his election.
While Pro-Trump American supporters had their motives for wanting him in office, it cannot be denied that most of the country today sees him more as a leader who invokes fear (like in the image above which showcases this with a child and a hand made of words hurting him) rather than a leader who protects the nation. Just like the idea of Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s burden” and being a protector of those uncivilized people that don’t know anything and are too weak to do anything for themselves, Trump embodies that in a similar way. As a White male he feels like he has all the right to label people and protect the nation from what he thinks are dangerous people. At the very beginning of the year 2017 something that stirred up the nation was him actually pushing towards building that wall he promised and barring Syrian refugees and some Muslims. Words eventually become reality and that is when power is transcended and words become powerful tools to empire, this time to today’s America and those who it threatens.
President Trump’s words and promises can seem as threatening and powerful to some groups of people just as Prospero’s words are in Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Aime Cesaire’s A Tempest, who justifies his abuse and authority over Caliban with language. Power comes from within the empire of language. Words had the power to torment Caliban in these plays, just as they have the power of tormenting us today.
Language has the potential to free people but also to make them powerless. Words empower bullies and dis-empower those under attack and under domination of someone else. They allow empires and its leaders to control many aspects of its citizen’s lives. They transform and alter them on a daily basis. Words can turn peace into war. Words that came out of someone’s mouth have the potential to turn into law and reality affecting people in a political, psychological, and physical manner. Language is perhaps an empire’s most influential and powerful tool.
Cesaire, Aime. “A Tempest.” Translated by Richard Miller, PDF file, 1992.
Hirschfeld Davis, Julie. “Trump Orders Mexican Border Wall to Be Built and Plans to Block Syrian Refugees.” The New York Times, 25 Jan. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/us/politics/refugees-immigrants-wall-trump.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
Kipling, Rudyard. “The White Man’s Burden.” PDF file, 1899.
Schear, Micheal D., and Helene Cooper. “Trump Bars Refugees and Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries.” The New York Times, 27 Jan. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/us/politics/trump-syrian-refugees.html?_r=0. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
Verbal Abuse Is Still Abuse. Adriana Sassoon: Verbal Abuse, adrianasassoon.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/verbal-abuse-1.jpg. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
Words Have Power. The Odyssey Online, http://www.theodysseyonline.com/words-are-powerful. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.