"We ARE x !"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 16 21:04:48 UTC 2011

News reports over the past several days have occasionally included
Penn State students both defending and deploring legendary coach Joe
Paterno as well as offering gestures of goodwill to the alleged
victims of Jerry Sandusky.

The sudents can be heard chanting or emphatically asserting as
individuals, "We ARE Penn State!"  I'm not sure what that's supposed
to mean beyond, "Harken to us!"

A few years ago, "We ARE Virginia Tech!" was the refrain of an alleged
poem by Nikki Giovanni, written in the wake of an even worse
situation. It seemed to mean, "We of VT are strong enough to get
through absolutely anything unfazed."

Both of these usages seemed familiar, but how?

In another one of those epiphanous moments, I suddenly recalled that
1976 film _Taxi Driver_ ("You talkin' to  me? You talkin' to *me*?
Well, you must be talkin' to me, 'cause I'm the only one here!")
featured a slick political candidate, target of the insane Travis
Bickel, who was running on the slogan "We ARE the People!"   (Cf. "We
ARE the 99%!" )

The irony seemed to be that the slogan in the film was utterly vapid.
It reminded me of the equally inane, but seriously intended, "Nixon's
the One!" of 1968.

Moral: yesterday's inanity, today's inspiration.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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