KODIAK — We’ve got a lot of words to cover, so we’re going to jump right into this.
As a horrific conclusion to a week of right-wing fueled violence against Americans this week, Robert Bowers stormed into the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue on Saturday, spewing anti-Semitic epithets while killing 11 worshippers and injuring several others, including three police officers.
It was an exclamation point to other attacks such as the bombing attempts by Cesar Sayoc, aka the MAGA Bomber, and Gregory Bush, who targeted and killed two African Americans in a Kentucky grocery store after unsuccessfully trying to enter a nearby black church to shoot it up.
This crime is especially heinous because the Tree of Life massacre occurred at a place of worship, much like the Charleston shooting last year by another right-wing radical. Heinous because of what the word synagogue means.
Synagogue entered the English language in the late 12th century, coming from the Old French sinagoge. Interesting that, in Old French, the word could have additionally meant a mosque or even a pagan temple, even though the original Latin before and English after used the word exclusively for a regular public worship place for Jews.
The Romans borrowed the word synagoga from the Greek synagoge, meaning any kind of assembly.
The word literally means a bringing together, from the Greek verb synagein, meaning to gather.
The prefix syn- means together, alike, or at the same time, as in lip syncing.
The base word is agein, meaning to put in motion, or to move. It comes from the Proto-Indo-European root ag, used to form words meaning to drive, or draw out or forth. Words like act, agenda, prodigal, and even strategy.
At the federal level, the Republican administration ramped up their anti-Other strategy this week by committing over 5,000 armed troops to the US southern border to meet the unarmed caravan I wrote about last week.
At a propaganda rally, the president called it an invasion.
Invasion comes from the mid-15th century word invasioun, used to label an act of entering a country as an enemy. It came to English via Old French, from the Late Latin invasionem, meaning an attack.
The Latin root invadere could means something as innocent as to go or come, or mean something more sinister like to enter violently or assail.
The prefix is, of course, in-, and the base word is vadere, meaning to go, walk, or move hastily. The PIE root is wadh, meaning to go, and forms such words as wade.
Later, the word’s meaning expanded, particularly in reference to diseases, and then in reference to rights, as in some kind of infringement or encroachment of taking something away, as in the phrase “invasion of privacy.”
Most reasonable conservatives I know consider this caravan as that latter invasion definition: as an encroaching on US sovereign borders, which has the potential to violate US law, even if most of the caravan intend on applying for asylum.
Other conservatives I know see the Republican administration’s use of invasion as that medieval definition of an enemy attack, thus justifying the military response.
However, we know now that there likely won’t be invasion. In fact, the president was given reports that the caravan would likely decrease by 80% if it makes it to the US border, making his rally rhetoric and ensuing military response misleading and a waste of resources. The United Nations has a refugee program that could establish in northern Mexico, help facilitate refugees, easing any stress on US border patrol and saving us millions in taxpayer dollars on this unnecessary military response.
But we know a peaceful approach to non-white immigration is not interesting to this administration. Which is why they have now set their sights on the Constitution and modifying the 14th amendment, which we have traditionally honored as protecting birthright citizenship.
The words birth and right were first combined into a new noun sometime in the 1530s and was established in English Common Law (upon which the US Constitution is based).
Birth, in the 12th century, meant to be born, but in Middle English, could also mean conception. It comes from the Old Norse byrdr from the Proto-Germanic gaburthis. The PIE root is bher, meaning to carry or bear children.
In English the suffix –th was added to “bear” to indicate a process (like bath and death).
Maybe we’ll see in next week’s elections the death of our old country and the birth of a new one. Or a little bit of both.