abstraction distraction

The word “authentic” is being tossed around a lot these days … another empty-calorie, tasteless ingredient in today’s word salad. The kale of the word world.

The other day, a leaking pustule of a man, Anthony Scaramucci, took over the job of White House Communications Director from the former dripping abscess, Sean Spicer. During one of his attempts at deceiving the press and the public, Scaramucci, started rambling on about just how great Sarah Huckabee was, saying,

“I think Sarah does a great job. She’s incredibly authentic.”

Incredibly authentic? Just. What. In. The. Hell. Does. That. Mean?

Isn’t everyone authentic? Is it possible for a person to be inauthentic?

You can be good, bad, handsome or hideous, smart, dumb, truthful or lie like there is no tomorrow … but you’ll always be authentic. I’m pretty sure we are all authentic representations of ourselves. Now some of us may not be “incredibly authentic.” I was under the impression that there was only one degree of authenticity but apparently Scaramucci has shown us that there are varying grades of it. I will become terribly distressed if I come to find that I am only “somewhat authentic.”

Color me confused, but isn’t authentic defined as:

  • Of undisputed origin; genuine. Not false or copied; real.
  • Having an origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified:
    “the letter is now accepted as an authentic document”
  • Synonyms: genuine, real, bona fide, true, veritable.

Now a car, lacking OEM’s (original equipment manufacturers’ parts) is not considered authentic; a modern reproduction of a 1700’s pie crust table is not considered an authentic antique – but a person, isn’t a person always authentic? To play devil’s advocate, if you’ve had a heart or kidney transplant or are missing a couple of your teeth, that may mean you don’t have all your OEM parts … so let’s just ignore transplant patients and toothless hillbillies for the sake of this discussion.

So if I get this right, Scaramucci is saying that Sarah is not somebody else. She wasn’t copied and is an actual, real person. She is not a robotic facsimile produced by DieBold, the voting machine people. This comes as a relief, because she looks exactly what I think someone with the name Huckabee is supposed to look – that is to say, fair to middlin’ and with a strong hankerin’ for some collards and a buttered biscuit.

To be honest, all this time, dumb ol’ me, simply assumed she was actually Sarah Huckabee, the daughter of the, bass-playin’, perpetual imbecile Mike Huckabee. I didn’t have a single doubt about her Huckabee legitimacy as she spouts fictional stupid ‘bout as good as I’ve ever heard it spouted.

According to the definition, it means Sarah likely has a long-form birth certificate or at the very least a Walmart Gift Card documenting her “undisputed origin” as “unquestionable evidence” of being herself.  Which puts her head and shoulders above that other “inauthentic” president, who shall go unnamed, who didn’t have a legit birth certificate.

If Scaramucci is trying to imply, however incorrectly, that “authentic” means you are a person who is honest and doesn’t lie, he couldn’t be further from the truth. Sarah Huckabee has one job and one job only – and that is to avoid the dissemination of any factual information what-so-ever. If North Korea were to hit California with a nuclear ICBM – Sarah, in bib overalls, would hold a press conference saying, “North Korea has sent us, via air-mail, a request to re-negotiate sanctions, delivered in a large shiny metal tube and president Trump is tweeting an appropriate, strongly-worded response from the golf course.” (The last part would be factual, the first part not so much).

Or does “authentic” mean something else entirely? Does it refer to her “regional authenticity” as in, Sarah speaks authentic Doublewide Hillbilly fluently? Perhaps it simply indicates she wouldn’t be caught dead eating liberal, Northeastern cuisine. To be sure, only grits and field peas pass her lips on their way to fertilize the Washington swamp.

Maybe it is some sort of 2017 euphemism meaning “She’s the real deal.” Sarah is an authentic hard-charging, bible-thumpin’, 100% ignorant, lie-my-ass-off conservative, believin’ in a flat earth and talkin’ snakes. The medieval world simply loved those types, and yes, they were, and still are, authentically ignorant.

We really should be careful about how we use words inaccurately. Words mean something. They reveal truths and falsehoods, they define and explain. Words explore old history and outline yet-to-be-proven concepts. They educate and elucidate, they clarify and explain. Words can lay the concrete four corners of a law and are the building blocks of poets. Words can also be used to lie, confuse, deceive and obscure. We use them to craft soaring oratory and wield them to sow sorrow, great conflict and harm. Countless authors, orators and philosophers over the ages have used the abstraction of words in an attempt to move us out of the darkness … but words can be used to keep us there as well.

Above all, our politicians should be careful how they use words. Our constitution is merely a scrap of paper with a laundry line of words penned across it. Though far from perfect, those carefully selected words are the attempts of long dead men to guide a future people into forming a more perfect union – something not yet achieved, but hopefully still worth pursuing. We should be very careful about the sloppy use of words and redefining them without careful thought.

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Image: Scar-Moochi (aka: Anthony Scaramucci) by © Trevor Irvin.
Trevor Stone Irvin

Trevor Stone Irvin

Illustrator and Designer living in the Candler Park area...At one time I worked at the Atlanta Constitution and then for CNN at the startup...it all seemed too much like real work so I went freelance...which my father defined as "being unemployed for a real long time".