It’s a cliché to say “blushing bride.” Not so, “blushing university president.”
Of course, we don’t know whether Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz was red-faced after being called out for using university police and vehicles for his niece’s wedding at the president’s house a week ago.
But we do know he was proactive, calling on University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby for an “impartial assessment” of the issues.
The very next day, school officials confirmed that on-duty university police have picked Azziz’s children up from school.
So will he call on Huckaby for another impartial assessment on using the campus police like a school bus, or just amend his original request?
“IT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF THE WORD IS”: My friend Richard Noegel, a brilliant linguist, e-mailed Azziz’s recent blog post “Sculptures in Clay” – an oxymoron if there ever was one because of who’s using it.
In honor of Diversity Awareness Month, Azziz touts the achievements of immigrants in education, health care and business in the United States. He also calls the country “a nation of immigrants.”
“Ours is not a nation of immigrants,” Noegel states. “Besides, ‘nation’ is not a synonym for ‘country.’ “Nation” comes from the Latin past participle natus “born”; < L. nascere, “to be born”; The members of a nation are necessarily related by blood. That’s what the etymology is all about. That’s why we have precise terms like ‘Cherokee Nation’ and ‘Creek Nation’ and ‘Yemassee Nation.’ Therefore, there can be no such thing as ‘a nation of immigrants.’ It does not exist because it cannot exist.
“Samuel Adams wrote, ‘How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!’
“And this is why this sort of thing is done. Because there are two kinds of thought: (1) conscious and (2) unconscious. Conscious thought is the thought (cognition) that takes place when we are awake. In waking hours, then, words are the vehicle of thought. Without words, cognition is impossible. If you aren’t immediately convinced of the truth of that statement, then try to think about something – anything at all – without words.
“Unconscious thought is not dependent on vocabulary. It relies instead upon archetypes and images, not words. We call such thought ‘dreams.’
“So if you wanted to corrupt people’s ability to think, you would have to either deprive them of the vehicles of thought (by impoverishing their vocabulary) or you would have to corrupt the vehicles of thought by confusing and confounding the meanings of words. As you are no doubt aware, there has been a concentrated effort – almost universally successful – for the past 50 years to do that very thing. Or those very things, I ought to say. That’s what the novel 1984 was all about. Samuel Adams knew the truth of this.
“Therefore, we have locutions like ‘nation of immigrants’ for the precise purpose of confusing the meanings of words and thereby rendering the weak-minded unable to tell that they are being duped and confounded and made fools of. These are the ‘tools of a tyrant.’ That’s why “You are not allowed to say ‘colored people’ by the people who say ‘people of color.’”
“A university president ought to know all this stuff. Prolly does.”
A MORASS IN A SWAMP: The Augusta Commission retreat got underway last week at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park with a game of public transit political football and ended with everybody patting one another on the back for the award winning Laney-Walker/Bethlehem revitalization project.
One of the presentations came from Finance Director Donna Williams, who explained the complications involved in equalizing urban and suburban tax rates.
Some people who have been pushing for equalization might be sorry one day when they see their property tax bills go up. And they will unless oil gushes to the surface during Marble Palace renovations.
FOR WANT OF A NAIL: Also during the retreat, Matt Kwatinetz, an urban economist hired to lead Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s project to develop the historic King and Sibley mills into GRU campus space and other downtown buildings into art and cultural space, outlined an impressive plan that could transform the city.
He’s asked city officials for $397,500 of $1.5 million needed for gathering data, further studies and explorations. All indications are he’ll get it.
The mayor pitched the idea of redeveloping the mills for campus expansion to Azziz and his Cabinet last month. Azziz is reportedly not interested. Maybe not, but he should consider the fact that Sibley Mill looks like a castle – a perfect place for a king to set up shop and rule.
EVERYONE DESERVES A THIRD CHANCE: City Administrator Fred Russell, Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau President Barry White and Commissioner Donnie Smith attended the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police board meeting in Duluth last week to ask them to give Augusta another chance.
The association canceled two conventions scheduled at the Augusta Convention Center because commissioners couldn’t agree on the center’s operating details last fall, delaying the opening.
Russell said he’s “optimistic.” That’s the kind of answer bureaucrats give you when they don’t want to say doodley squat.
GOOD MORNING MARY: Congratulations to the lovely Mary Morrison, WJBF-TV’s anchorwoman for Good Morning Augusta and News at Noon, on receiving the Augusta West Rotary Club’s Louis Harris Award last week.
The award honoring outstanding media figures was named in honor of the community leader and longtime editor of The Augusta Chronicle and The Augusta Herald.
Morrison’s sweet, gracious remarks after receiving the award were quite moving, as were those by last year’s winner, Don Rhodes.
“I think I mentioned this last year when I won this award that after being passed over for 20 years I came to tell myself that I didn’t really want it anymore,” Rhodes said. “Even though it was Louis Harris himself, the namesake of this award, who recruited me for Morris newspapers. And, in fact, I had decided if I was offered it, I would reject it. And yet after I won it, an amazing thing happened. Not only did I receive a ton of e-mail congratulatory messages from my media friends who I love so much, but everywhere I went – to my American Legion post meetings in North Augusta or just walking along Broad Street – people would come up to me and tell me how great it was that I got this award.
“I came to realize just how much the people in the Augusta area realize that this award is a true recognition of someone in the media who has been doing something good for this community. … And I just want to say that other than Augusta Magazine, which recognizes media people each year, I think your club members are the only ones who recognize the good work of local media members who are just trying to do their jobs every day.”