"We ARE x !"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Nov 16 21:30:20 UTC 2011

Cf. also the 2006 movie "We Are Marshall," based on a similar rallying
cry used by Marshall University's Thundering Herd.

On Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 4:04 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> 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.

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