Why Did Obama Use This Ridiculous and Offensive Word to Describe the Jewish Passover?
“It’s a tale that has been passed down from generation to generation,” Obama said about the Passover.
Since words matter, and my initial hearing of the word hit me as something strange for a supposed Christian to say about the Passover, I wanted to make sure that my definition of the word “tale” matched up with the true meaning and that Obama wasn’t using it in a way that I wasn’t aware, since the word is often used to describe a fable or fabricated story, such as “tall tale,” “fairy tale,” or “old wives’ tale.”
And since White House speechwriters obsess over the meaning and usage of every word in every presidential speech, to make sure that the messaging is on point and being especially mindful to groups who may be offended, it’s instructive to consider why Obama used the word “tale” to describe the Jewish Passover.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word “tale” as:
1 obsolete : discourse, talk
a : a series of events or facts told or presented : account
b (1) : a report of a private or confidential matter (2) : a libelous report or piece of gossip
a : a usually imaginative narrative of an event : story
b : an intentionally untrue report : falsehood
If you want to discredit someone’s religion, a good way to do it would be to describe its historic events as a series of tales, while giving a “wink-wink-nod-nod” faux appearance of respect.
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