Saturday, March 10, 2007

Who Wants to Be an Anti-American Nemesis?

Since Bush started his trip through Latin America I've heard the word "nemesis" on NPR more times than I care to count - always in reference to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

This got me to thinking about "nemesis." A little rummaging around turned up this lovely definition from Greek Mythology Link:
"Nemesis, the messenger of Justice, is Retribution or Divine Vengeance....This goddess is implacable to men of violence, but she is best known for deeply disliking the absence of moderation, and for...the punishment of excesses of pride and undeserved happiness. Nemesis puts to sleep presumptuous boasting and checks offensive words, exacting a heavy penalty for them."
And this from Encyclopedia Mythica:
"Nemesis is the goddess of divine justice and vengeance. Her anger is directed toward human transgression of the natural, right order of things and of the arrogance causing it. Nemesis pursues the insolent and the wicked with inflexible vengeance."
She clearly has been busy of late!

But one term has even outstripped "nemesis" in the NPR word-repetition count: "anti-American." NPR is liberally(!) applying it both to Chavez and - more generally - to any march, protest, government, or caring human being who dares oppose the foreign policy of the United States. But wait, I'm also dissatisfied with US foreign policy; I don't like funding death squads, overthrowing elected governments, breaking unions, invading countries, bombing civilians, and torturing people...I guess that makes me anti-American too...and - for that matter - if I were a goddess of retribution, I'd also want to be taking our little puffed-up, don't-read-newspapers, "bring'em on" twit down to size too!


Kevan Smith said...

I noticed the excessive nemesis usage, too. You provided info about the goddess, but the word is usually used to mean "an opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome," and it's sometimes used as a synonym for bane, which is something or someone that causes death! I understand NPR is trying to demonize Chavez into our national enemy, but they sure picked the wrong word with nemesis.

Mytwords said...

Yes, indeed. I also was pleased to hear Chalmers Johnson on Media Matters today on WILL 580, our local NPR station, talking about his latest book called Nemesis.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Ha! Excellent etymological research, thanks. I'll never think of that word the same way again.

Also good to see props here to David Inge, whose Focus 580 sometimes has great guests, and a lot of good call-in folks too. Well, he has great guests less than sometimes, but still, once in awhile . . . actually, looking over the show's archives, I can't find the Chalmers Johnson episode, which I'd like to listen to. Are you sure it was that show, oh Mytwords?

(Sorry, that was me above who removed his own comment, had a mistake in it.)

Mytwords said...

Here's the site forMcChesney's Media Matters.

BTW, I really do like a lot of our local programming too.

Anonymous said...

The Nemesis Party, that's the ticket. Now for a presidential candidate.

Unknown said...

Ah, I see, Media Matters, not Focus 580, thanks Mytwords! I'll read more carefully next time, and I look forward to the C Johnson interview. Bob McC, of course, probably does the most progressive program on our local WILL.

Anonymous said...

Re: "anti-American"

Not nearly as bizarre as the term sometimes used by the US military to refer to their opponents in Iraq: "anti-Iraqi forces"

Porter Melmoth said...

I happened to meet Chalmers Johnson once, back when he was mainly a Japan expert. I couldn't be happier with his new guise as a responsible teller of truths, especially when it comes to the dark side of US foreign policy. He is an excellent source.