Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.

The limits of my language are the limits of my world.

@Ludwig Wittgenstein

This section of the site will examine, ponder, and present brief etymologies, histories and uses of various words and phrases.


A simple way to delineate British English vs. colloquial American English is to notice the general reduction of diverse adjectives and so-called flowery speech. British English – still dripping with the fruits of the physical and scholarly hegemony established by its speakers – serves as the “voice of authority,” in most western visual mediums. Even when taken to animated features and sci-fi films set in the distant future the British accent remains as the standard for expressing intellect, class, and prime facie right to opine and rule. This practice stands as a testament to the power of words and cultural hegemonies. America, which stands astride world history and one of the nations most sure of its right of independence and its exceptionalism is the greatest offender in the use of British accents in its film media. It is also greatly complicit in the projection of this imagery via it’s vast television and film tentacles which encircle the globe. Therefore it can be an illuminating practice to analyze the etymological maturation of words and their use between the nations who share a “special relationship.”

Here in the U.S. the term, ‘nonplussed,’ is used to denote a feeling of being calm, or unbothered. However, the original meaning of the term is nearly the complete opposite. It is the one still accepted in most dictionaries and by English speakers across the world.


Wanting to keep this brief survey of the term’s usage as grounded as possible I began by performing a word search on my personal library. From an essay titled, “The living tradition,” Ahmadou Hamptaté Bâ, born in Senegal and educated by the British/EU system we see the term used thusly:

Another example comes from a book written by Maury Terry, The “Ultimate Evil,” which is about the Son of Sam case in New York in the 1980s: 

Then I performed a search for the term’s use by an Australian, another person connected to the British English fraternity but has spent time away from it, and found their usages to be in alignment with the dictionary and the British.

So with these three quick examples we can see anecdotal confirmation of the words different uses, based on geographic education. The person with a British educational background used the term to connote confusion or apprehension, “… after a long silence: ‘It was total knowledge’, and say no more.” The Australian used the term to describe outsiders to Australian politics who “might not understand the hybrid contours…” While the American used to to describe how unbothered Gilroy was about the information the attorney was sharing with him.

How did we get here?

Mark Liberman, a linguist, discussed this term’s transition on his blog the Language Log and posited that the word’s alteration came through confusion with other similar terms.

“The other words that mean something similar to the traditional sense of nonplussedperplexed, confounded, confused, addled, befuddled, bewildered, muddled, etc.—are generally un-negated, while there are quite a few words with a sense similar to the new meaning of nonplussed that include a negative element: impassive, unperturbed, nonchalant, unfazed.”

This particular term isn’t used that often in colloquial speech but all of the people I’ve personally discussed it with had been surprised at its etymology. And while it appears to have been used in the U.S. in this capacity for a few decades, its yet to be fully accepted as a new definition for the term. 

So for the time being be aware if you’re in London or Sydney and you want to express that you’re not concerned about something, you may be saying the opposite thing.

Even words being used by people speaking the same language can end up lost in translation.



Language Log: Nonplussed (2008)

The Grammarphobia Blog – Nonplussed about “nonplussed” (2015)




The Ret-conning of Retroactivity Continuity: Wolfhart Pannenberg meets the X-Men



Time is a flat circle…

Naturally, the contemporary mores of society take precedence over the original zeitgeist in which a word or idea was born. It is the contest between context and meaning that rages on through the living pages of history we write with our daily intellectual efforts. The constant supposed evolution of human thought produces a subconscious division between most thinkers: progressive vs. conservative. In this sense these words are divorced from their well known political connotations, while retaining the underlying premise. A progressive thinker in the history of ideas is looking to reframe and reanalyze words and ideas and if possible update them to the current zeitgeist. A conservative thinker is one who tends to funnel their thinking into ‘traditional,’ and or fundamentalist interpretations of words. Conservative’s concerning words will invariably slam headlong into the overarching arbiter and interloper into most thinking in the 20th and 21st century: post modernism.

In this piece I’m referring to post-modernism in a broad fashion as a collection of ideas which tend to disregard tradition, question long held assumptions, and place a lens of subjectivity lens over anything with meaning. This is something that any theologian in the “modern” era will come up against. That tension of ideas plays a part in the origin of the term which inspired this piece, retcon, which is short for Retroactive continuity:

Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.

Due in part to the oversampling of comic book influenced movies, television shows and the rise of video game culture, the term “retcon,” has come to wide spread public knowledge. I had been aware of the term before it became in vogue but it wasn’t until recently that I looked into where it came from. After searching through a paucity of dictionaries I found wiki to be more encompassing in their definitions. According to retcon’s etymology is:

“A blend of retroactive +‎ continuity. The term “retroactive continuity” was popularized by comics writer Roy Thomas, who was known for writing superhero comic books set decades in the past. A situation, in a soap opera or similar serial fiction, in which a new storyline explains or changes a previous event or attaches a new significance to it.”

The debut of the term is triangulated to some time during early to mid-1980s. Wikipedia entry:

“Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.”

The Wikipedia entry is more robust and does a better job of explaining the term closer to its colloquial meaning, especially the portion about breaking continuity. As those of us who watch or read properties where major retcons have taken place know all too well the timeline and many important events along it, are thrown out of position or their original meaning is altered. In the right hands it can be a powerful literary device to employ yet in practice it is often used force some commercial or technical agenda change unto the storyline.

Character arcs can be destroyed or refashioned and sometimes the whole thematic underpinning of an identity can be altered. (Han Solo shot first, as he should have, Han was a pirate).

Changing a portion of a character’s back story takes place in ‘realtime,’ as in when you’re reading or watching the material, yet the effects of the changed need to be re-thought, start to re-finish, in order to realize the true dynamics that had been altered. This will take place in your future, as in after you’ve read the piece or learned of the retcon’s existence. This effect can be seen as a re-unfolding of history, a recycled chronology with edits. In those types of moments is where we experience a retcon in its current colloquial usage.

Digging deeper we uncover where the term literally comes from. In the etymology section of the article we have this:

“The first published use of the phrase “retroactive continuity” is found in theologian E. Frank Tupper’s 1973 book The Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg.” Pannenberg’s conception of retroactive continuity ultimately means that history flows fundamentally from the future into the past, that the future is not basically a product of the past.”

The term “retroactive continuity” originally draws its meaning from a theological context and was used to describe the ideas of one Wolfhart Panneberg. I conducted a brief and admittedly shallow survey of the work and life of Pannenberg. He was a  German theologian who made an interesting contribution to the field through his vision of the history of the world as a form of revelation centered in space-time on the Resurrection of Christ. In this time-space of Pannenberg’s the the ‘end of the world,’ (the death of Christ) has already taken place and the (future) history of man is a revelation from God leading us back to the point of ending (the past). It may sound like a circle but his presentation of the idea is that of a “backwards revelation.”

Pannenberg sought to use science, history and various forms of dialectic to present a theological model that intersected with the modern world’s criteria for academic discourse. He was greatly influenced by Hegel and was a student of accomplished Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Pannenberg endeavored to show, “… history that demonstrates the deity of God is broadened to include the totality of all events,” by expounding upon a his theories in rounds of debates with scholars of various disciplines. In a paper entitled, “THE ORIGINS AND LIMITATIONS OF PANNENBERG’S ESCHATOLOGY, ” by David Zehnder, the author states:

“Pannenberg always evinced a Hegelian restlessness toward finding absolute truth because he thought that Christianity would too easily become obsolete without this character. While Hegel founded this truth-as-history motif that would later influence Karl Marx, Wilhelm Dilthey, Martin Heidegger, and Hans Georg Gadamer, his approach’s own faults set up his followers’ failures (Marx especially) because Hegel never understood his own philosophy in terms of history’s true whole.”

This drive in Pannenberg undoubtedly had come at the efficacy of post modernist thought in watering down people’s ‘traditional’ religious convictions and the worlds of art and science had been beating that same drum for centuries at this point. Pannenberg therefore sought to engage this new mode of thinking on its terms:

“Contemporary theology, Pannenberg contended, must be debatable in a public forum and therefore must concern history as an objectively accessible arena of inquiry.”


“Pannenberg was thinking of the reconciliation of the world to God as the whole meaning of history. The knowledge of this future is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead: “the coming of the end of time has broken through all conceptions of the promise of God; indeed, in the event of the resurrection it has broken through everything we can conceive of.” Because Jesus manifests the end of history proleptically, provisional judgments about God’s work in time and human knowledge of him are possible.”

Not surprisingly his ideas did change over the course of his life but his goal of expressing his deeply held religious conviction in a way that could be digested and accepted at the academic level as “factual,” is a fascinating turn due largely to the ethos of post-modernist thought. He was attempting to shore up tradition via the use of the tools that were largely being used to dismantle it. Contrasting research on the New Testament’s physical realities and the wars of mankind he altered some of his premises to better encompass the heart of his ideas. Once again from Zehnder:

Pannenberg’s attempt to uphold traditional Christian claims against competing gods and worldviews is, for all of its subtlety of presentation, audacious. But he sees universality as constitutive of theology itself and cannot imagine talk of God—the creator and source of all life—without these absolute claims.

The end of history in Pannenberg’s theology was the death and resurrection of the Christ, which makes it the “beginning” and yet out distant past. An excerpt from a 1974 essay by one Richard Lischer does a succinct job of explaining the idea:

“For Pannenberg, resurrection does not represent a miraculous interruption of nature and history. Only those for whom history is blandly homogenized will say that because resurrections do not happen now, the resurrection of Jesus was a miracle or an intersubjective experience, or else a hoax. Pannenberg rejects all three alternatives. He prefers to call Jesus’ resurrection a unique historical event which, investigated by the usual historical methods, must be accepted like any other event of history: reason sees the fact. Faith, in Pannenberg’s use, awaits the future. Resurrection makes history in the sense that it establishes a goal and an overall meaning for everything that happens. And it answers man’s universal longing for life after death.”


There are no conclusions to be made from this piece as it was an largely an exercise in figuring out where a term came from. As usual when one digs into etymology and the genealogy of ideas they unearth contradictory discoveries. The term we use today to signify events being altered in some fictional realm and affecting the future continuity is ‘retcon,’ which derives from ‘retroactive continuity’, a term coined to describe a theory which implies history runs in reverse from future to past while proving itself to be real and a measure of proof that a celestial God exists guiding history. Man argues over what is natural, what is true, or what is right. Various tools, man made and otherwise are used to attempt to win this argument. Time and time again the tools overlap and become one, only to be broken a-part, examined, and re-assembled in a new fashion. Time is a flat circle. See you on the flip side.




For more on Pannenberg’s ideas you can check any of the following:

Pannenberg: A Post-Enlightenment Theologian PETERJ.A.CooK.


The Strange Legacy of Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg

Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology (vol. 1)

Wolfhart Pannenberg on Theopedia

Resurrection and Spirit: Pannenberg’s Method in Two Doctrines by Timothy Harvie St. Mary’s University College



Wolfhart Pannenberg (2 October 1928 – 4 September 2014)



Sparked by the recent revelations concerning Harvey Weinstein and Jeff Epstein I began to reflect on how often criminally deviant sexual abuse is perpetrated by elites, covered up by the media, and if ever revealed to the public they are usually done so long after the fact with overwhelming spin. This post arose from an impromptu Twitter thread and therefore it will it won’t take the form of a normal essay. Interspersed between my (expanded) tweets on the topic will be images and links to support my assertions concerning widespread and ongoing sexual blackmail of politicians and numerous accounts of sexual abuse, pedophilia, and child/human trafficking in which many elites seem to be involved in.

People might want to read up on the history of using sexually deviant blackmail as a political tactic. The history is long and sordid. Jeffery Epstein has an private island in the USVI, is a convicted sex offender, has paid off people who sued him and is affiliated with almost every president in the past 20 years. Speculation about Epsteins connections and greater purpose take place outside of MSM outlets and include theories on whether or not he’s an agent for some Intel agency who provides victims to high ranking politicians and the power elite in order to have material for future blackmail opportunities.

Epstein’s net stretches across the pond and has caught Prince Andrew and many other a luminary in it’s clutches.

Sexual blackmail, billionaires, and intel agencies, it all sounds far fetched you say?

II. Spooks, Sex, and Sleazy Satraps

Operation Midnight Climax was a program run by the CIA was used to investigate the effects of LSD on unsuspecting johns and to cultivate blackmail options.

Revealed: MI5 blackmailed child sex abusers

Westminster child abuse scandal: KGB and CIA kept secret dossiers on Britain’s VIP pedophiles

Exclusive: High-Level NSA Whistleblower Says Blackmail Is a Huge – Unreported – Part of Mass Surveillance

The Franklin Scandal in Omaha, Nebraska officially spanned from 1988 – 1991 and was a child prostitution ring that catered both to citizens of Nebraska and notably many high ranking U.S. politicians. It was said the perpetrators were “a cult of devil worshipers involved in the mutilation, sacrifice and cannibalism of numerous children.

A newspaper clipping from the time:

The scandal broke and mayhem ensued as many high ranking political officials were implicated. A documentary produced about the event was shelved by the Discovery Channel at the time but is available here.

Former republican Senator John Decamp was involved in the production a documentary called “Conspiracy of Silence” it was to air May 3, 1994 on the Discovery Channel. This documentary exposed a network of religious leaders and Washington politicians who flew children to Washington D.C. for sex orgies. At the last minute before airing, unknown congressmen threatened the TV Cable industry with restrictive legislation if this documentary was aired.

Almost immediately, the rights to the documentary were purchased by unknown persons who had ordered all copies destroyed. A copy of this videotape was furnished anonymously to former Nebraska state senator and attorney John De Camp who made it available to retired F.B.I. chief, Ted L. Gunderson. While the video quality is not top grade, this tape is a blockbuster in what is revealed by the participants involved. You can purchase a VHS copy at this link. Or you can view an online copy at this page.


 Lawerence King was the public face of the scandal. Responsible for setting up meetings between the deviants and their victims he was a shining light in the GOP and sang the national anthem at Republican events for years.

III. The United Kingdom of Dirty SOB’s and MP’s

If you’re a person who likes to see things for yourself take a look.

At least 40 UK politicians complicit in alleged Westminster ‘pedophile ring’ – report

MONSTERS — How Thatcher’s Government Covered Up a VIP Pedophile Ring

The Westminster child abuse ‘coverup’: how much did MPs know?

IV. The United Nations and dereliction of dignity


U.N. Child Abuse Scandal Is Latest In History Of Sex Crimes Committed By Officials, Peacekeepers

FBI: ‘Epidemic’ levels of pedophilia, child sex trafficking

Report reveals shame of UN peacekeepers — Sexual abuse by soldiers ‘must be punished’

V. The U.N., the Clintons, and the meta-physical rape and pillage of Haiti

The Clinton-Silsby Trafficking Scandal And How The Media Covered It Up

Haiti Charges Americans With Child Abduction

VI. The USArmy, The Church of Set and What in the Faustian Fuck?

I’ll return to this post and update in the future but for now I’ll close it after this section.


A FLURRY OF MEETINGS AT THE PRESIDIO followed the revelation that the Tobin boy had been abused. But for all the activity, the Army seemed in no hurry to proceed with the case. It took the Army 12 days to form a strategy group. And it took the Army almost a month to notify the parents of other children who had been in “Mr. Gary’s” class that the incident had taken place, that their children might be at risk. Nearly a year would pass before more than 59 other victims children between the ages of 3 and 7 had been identified. And allegations would be made by parents that several more children were molested even after the investigation had begun.

Day care centers under state jurisdiction are routinely closed when an abuse incident is confirmed, but the Presidio center stayed open for more than a year after the Tobin boy said “Mr. Gary” had hurt him.

A strategy meeting on Dec. 10 set the tone for the case. The meeting was attended by all the brass from the Presidio, representatives of the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office and staff from the Child Adolescent Sexual Abuse Referral Center. The CASARC workers told the Army to expect multiple victims, so many that CASARC could not offer its help. But the Army “didn’t want to believe that,” says one CASARC worker who attended the meeting.

Five days later, on Dec. 15, letters were mailed to 242 parents whose children were in Hambright’s classes. “The Commander of the Presidio of San Francisco, has been apprised of a single incident of alleged child sexual abuse reported to have occurred at the Presidio Child Development Center…….

“We have no reason to believe that other children have been victimized.” Many parents who received the letter took the Army at its word. Many of them didn’t learn until the following April, after the Tobins and other parents forced the Army to send out another letter, that their children had been victims.

Other parents found out right away. The children had begun to talk. And they kept talking. That was the problem. They kept saying things that no one, especially not the Army, wanted to hear. They kept mentioning other people besides “Mr. Gary,” other locations besides the day care center. Among the allegations:

  • Some of the children said they were taken from the day care center to private homes on the Presidio where they were sexually abused. Two houses were singled out on the Army post and at least one home off-post, in San Francisco.
  • One girl said she played “poopoo baseball” at the home of one of her female teachers. The girl said the game involved throwing feces at the teacher.
  • Other children talked about playing the”googoo game” with “Mr. Gary”. It involved Hambright having the children urinate and defecate on him. Then he would do the same to them. Sometimes, the children said, they were forced to drink urine and eat feces. Some said they had blood smeared on their bodies.
  • Some children said they had guns pointed at them. Others said they were told they or their parents would be killed if they told what happened.
  • One 3-year-old boy said he was sexually abused on his first visit to the center. That day was also his birthday.
  • A 3-year-old girl said “Mr. Gary” used special pens, black, blue, pink and red — to doodle on her, starting at her legs and moving up over her genitals. The same child said she saw one of her friends at the center cry when “Mr. Gary’s” friend, a woman, pointed a gun at the friend.
  • There were five confirmed cases of Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, including two of the four daughters of one family.
  • A preliminary test of one boy for AIDS came back positive. Further tests revealed that a he did not have the disease, but fear of AIDS tormented parents for months.
Lt. Col. Michael Aquino, founder of the Temple of Set, Sammy Davis Jr, and Anton Lavey known Satanist

From the same article above:

The investigators drove her to Leavenworth Street in San Francisco. The girl was asked to identify any of the houses that she had been to before. While walking past 2430 Leavenworth, the girl identified the house as the one where she met “Mikey” and “Shamby.”

The investigators drove her to Leavenworth Street in San Francisco. The girl was asked to identify any of the houses that she had been to before. While walking past 2430 Leavenworth, the girl identified the house as the one where she met “Mikey” and “Shamby.” It was the Aquino’s’ house.

A search warrant was served on the Aquino home on Aug. 14. In attendance were agents from the FBI and the San Francisco Police. Because the abuse allegedly occurred on city property, it was to be a city case.

Among the items seized were video tapes, cassette tapes, notebooks with names and addresses, two photo albums one paper plate and two plastic gloves from the kitchen garbage, four plastic cases of negatives and 29 photos of costumes and masks. With his widow’s peak and arching eyebrows, Lt Col. Michael Aquino looks more like a pudgy Dracula than a high ranking Army officer with top security clearance. He is the founder and high priest of a satanic church, the Temple of Set. His wife, Lilith, a gaunt woman with long, dark hair, is a priestess in the temple’s Order of the Vampyre. The couple refer to the search as a “raid” and have branded the investigation a witch hunt.

“The Army has known about my religion for the last 18 years and has no problem,” Aquino told me in a telephone interview late last year. “Not one single person in the US. Army, with the exception of the chaplain, would have the remotest notion that I would be involved in anything like this.”

A search warrant was served on the Aquino home on Aug. 14. In attendance were agents from the FBI and the San Francisco Police. Because the abuse allegedly occurred on city property, it was to be a city case.

Among the items seized were video tapes, cassette tapes, notebooks with names and addresses, two photo albums one paper plate and two plastic gloves from the kitchen garbage, four plastic cases of negatives and 29 photos of costumes and masks. With his widow’s peak and arching eyebrows, Lt Col. Michael Aquino looks more like a pudgy Dracula than a high ranking Army officer with top security clearance. He is the founder and high priest of a satanic church, the Temple of Set. His wife, Lilith, a gaunt woman with long, dark hair, is a priestess in the temple’s Order of the Vampyre. The couple refer to the search as a “raid” and have branded the investigation a witch hunt.

“The Army has known about my religion for the last 18 years and has no problem,” Aquino told me in a telephone interview late last year. “Not one single person in the US. Army, with the exception of the chaplain, would have the remotest notion that I would be involved in anything like this.”

FBI Investigates Presidio Child Molestation Report — August 11, 1987

The 1986-1987 Presidio “Satanic Ritual Abuse” Events


Don’t be shocked this stuff is real. Don’t fear bringing these issues up or talking about them. It’s no conspiracy. People’s lives and the lives and health of their loved ones are at stake to a leviathan in the room. Bomb on anyone who is still shocked. Share stories on these atrocities. Part of this grand charade we’re all a part of is the coverup of these stories by the MSM and all other manner of agent working on behalf of the Power Elite.  These folks not only rob the public but literally/psychological attempt to consume us as well. Many of them are Ghouls of the highest order. Ignore Corey Feldman and McCauley and Elijah Wood all you want. But they told you. How does anyone who’s a DEM say anything about this stuff when Slick Dick Willy remains a party elder? Hollywood, Intelligence and the State are also all in the same gang now. The sickness is wide spread.

The media largely silent. Don’t you be.








     Etymology has always fascinated me. While teaching English in Japan I learned a few things about conflict, stereotypes, and language. A colleague educated me to the origin of two particular terms heavily tied to American conflicts in Asia that had become parts of our lexicon. The terms, “honcho” and the racial epithet “gook,” seemingly have nothing in common. However, the origins of their inclusion in American colloquial english and their port of entry into it – American exposure to Asian cultures during war time – illustrate the binding power of narrative construction, naming of the other, and imperial hubris.

Reading a book on Malthusian theory some time ago I was exposed to the idea that the act of making war was integral to Europe’s self preparation for the projects of colonialism and imperialism. The migration of peoples due to conflict was generally followed by disease, alterations to gene pools, and at times violent collisions between various cultures. This maelstrom of conflict built up immunity to diseases – many rolling plagues notwithstanding – codified various forms of societal behaviors, and lead to wide ranging alterations to culture and language.  This milieu of military action, civil reorientation and language remain important even in today’s world. Terms like “nation building,” and “regime change,” are merely fancy markers used in place of the literal actions of invasion, coups, and colonialization, be it technological, economic or military in nature. The sharp end of colonialism, and this is in no way meant to diminish the pillage and plunder that are it’s stalwart accomplices, is actually its physically non-violent methods. As promoted by the USGovt brass in the latest series of desert excursion into foreign lands – Winning Hearts and Minds – the idea of soft power, HUMINT and psychological operations is the name of the game.

“I apply not my sword when my lash suffices, nor my lash when my tongue is enough.” -Muawiya

     Framing the enemy in a certain light, usually that of some low cultured brute who, vis-à-vis an extended cultural attack on the part of their adversary, is always the first step in preparing the minds of a population for conflict. Dehumanization and stereotypical views of their opponent exist on ALL sides of any conflict and no nation or culture is free from having done so through the use of words and images. This essay is about two term used in the American lexicon to describe militarily colonized/subjugated populations and a history of their etymologies. In these cases we’ll see that the drive – conscious or otherwise – to describe the enemy in belittling racialized terms superseded the actual meaning of words.

As a kid I heard growing up in the 1980s, I was exposed to plenty of Westerns and the term “head honcho.” Admittedly the adventures of John Wayne and his clones were not my cup of tea, and the racial overtones of the entire genre were not lost on my young eyes. The head honcho was usually the boss of a Spanish gang of bandits, or occasionally an anglo character would use to describe himself.

Usually this implied an edge to their character seeing as it was a repurposing of the how the word was being promoted – as a way to describe the enemy. Inverting the term used to describe an enemy other on one’s self gave it a hint of darkness and added character to the hero narrative. Clint Eastwood saying he was the head honcho of an area usually meant someone was about to get sprayed. It wasn’t until later that I learned, like many others I had erred in thinking that “honcho” was a Spanish word. In fact it’s Japanese, “hancho”

     Hancho in Japanese means “squad leader” and seemingly entered the American lexicon due to GI’s exposure to Japanese troops during the Pacific Campaigns. I found it interesting how something that came to be associated with gunslingers in the faux-Old West had it’s origins in eastern Asia. This also echoed the ideas from the book on Malthus on how the action of military actors was full of social consequences and culturally altering by-products. Via their physical presence in a foreign land the soldiers were exposed to new ideas and terms, usually they refashioned them in real time to fit their cultural sensibilities.

     The other term, gook, is an epithet that was used in heavily up to 70s and 80s, and had been used to describe every racial group from Filipinos, to Koreans to the Vietnamese. The histories tell us this term inserted itself into the American GI lexicon in a major way during the Korean and Vietnam War, however its first recorded usages date back to the 1920s. My Japanese colleague was the one who alerted me to the history of this word. The story is actually somewhat amusing. The native Koreans used the term “Migook,” meaning America, to refer to the GIs and others. US soldiers apparently as the person saying they themselves were a gook. In fact the term was being used to delineate the American’s as non-Koreans and also as a matter of simple information but using their own assumptive cultural lens the world was refashioned in real time into an insult.

Reducing various Asian populations to a racial epithet undoubtedly hastened and affirmed their otherness and fostered soldiers seeing them as targeted for control and domination.

Also worthy of note is how a Korean term was repurposed to be used on any Asian encountered in the theater and undoubtedly facilitated the process of collectivizing and othering Asians in the minds of the US serviceman. Another source offers this version of the origin of the term,

“Although many have it originating in Korea either by referring Korea’s original name, “Hanguk”, or during the Korean War when Koreans would ask American GI’s “Mi Guk?” (“American?” in Korean) which sounded like they were saying “Me gook.” Was soon adopted for use in the Vietnam War. Technically this should only apply to Koreans, but the Vietnam War made it most popular when applied towards the Vietnamese.”


As to be expected the term made its way to the home-front and was applied to Asians in the US Armed Forces even while on American soil.

When David Oshiro, who is Okinawan American and grew up in Hawaii, lay wounded and bleeding in Vietnam, his fellow Americans were reluctant to put him on the helicopter.

“I had to whip out my dog tag and say, “I’m an American,’ ” he said. “They’ll get all the black and white guys before they get the Asians out.”

Oshiro, now 50 and a San Rafael resident, served in the elite Special Forces and said he had a good relationship with all the soldiers in his unit, but that soldiers from other units were not as enlightened.

“I’ve been called “gook’ more times than I care to think about,” he said.

While he was at basic training in Fort Ord, a sergeant asked him and several other Asian Americans to dress up in black pajamas, the get-up of the Viet Cong, to show recruits what the enemy looks like. Oshiro refused.

Adams said that was a common occurrence.


The import of this racialized term which only added to the bigotry already extant in many US soldiers exacerbated internecine conflicts within the US Armed Forces:

“Before I got to Vietnam, the disillusion started,” he said. “When I got to Vietnam, the disillusion was completely there.”

While still at basic training at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, he said he was picked on continually.

“I experienced a lot of rednecks,” he said. “It wasn’t only to blacks; the Asians took a lot of hits, for obvious reasons. We were in an Asian war.”

Once he got to Vietnam, he said one sergeant seemed to have it in for him, calling him racist slurs, threatening him with a gun, even waking him up in the middle of the night with a bayonet at his throat.

“I still have a lot of anger and rage toward whites who come off with that attitude, a lot of prejudiced attitude,” Luke said.

Adams said that many of the subjects in the study forged relationships with black soldiers.

“A lot of times, black soldiers took them in, protected them, made friends with them, versus people of other ethnic backgrounds who were not as understanding of what was going on,” she said.”

The parallels of Asian-American soldiers referred to as gooks by their own military brethren is instantly recognizable is related to the treatment of Blacks in the armed forces, especially during Vietnam. Due to the intense political climate in America at the time the Vietnam War was an extremely complex exercise in ‘racially’ fueled imperialism and the use of “conscripted forces.” My usage of conscripted forces in this case refers to the split in consciousness expressed by many Black soldiers concerning the nature and narrative of their participation in the Vietnam War.

For those who question the political activism of Blacks during the Vietnam War a brief reminder of the climate is all I will offer at the moment:

“The fledgling black American conscript was expected to endure the sight of the Confederate flag painted on Jeeps, tanks and helicopters, and sometimes encountered menacing graffiti, such as “I’d rather kill a nigger than a gook”, scrawled on the walls in the latrines of US bases. Other grisly practices, such as cross burnings, were uprooted from Alabama and Mississippi to the war theatre of Vietnam, and some commanders tolerated Ku Klux Klan “klaverns” on their bases.”


     The same use of language to dehumanize Black Americans was applied to the Asian targets of imperial aggression. This modality was not lost on either side and lead to a war within a war as Black and White American soldiers engaged in physical, mental and “literary” conflicts with each other in the midst of a war on foreign soil:

“One black soldier, drained by the tense racial atmosphere in the enlisted men’s clubs, commented: “Chuck’s [euphemism for a white man] all right until he gets a beer under his belt and then it’s nigger this and nigger that, and besides, to be honest, Chuck ain’t too much fun, you dig?” Indeed, by the late 1960s in Vietnam, black and white soldiers were socialising in separate bars and clubs. In Saigon, the black servicemen congregated in the Khanh Hoi district and, sometimes, protected their preferred venues with signs that warned “No Rabbits [white soldiers] Allowed.”


On their end the Vietnamese were aware of the power of words and race during war and utilized the tensions which arose from this triumvirate as part of their psychological operations.

“Today, Wallace Terry recalls that, bizarrely, the Vietcong sometimes screamed, “Go home, soul man”, at the black soldiers during combat and Browne, who was interviewed in Terry’s Bloods, described how, “to play on the sympathy of the black soldier, the Vietcong would shoot at a white guy, then let the black guy behind him go through, then shoot at the next white guy”. Other black servicemen, including the deserter Whitmore, reported identical cases.

But the huge number of black soldiers killed in action and the maltreatment of black prisoners of war was ample proof that the Vietcong and the NVA were simply manipulating the racial discord within the American ranks.”


The effect of racist treatment couched in language upon the Asian Americans in the Vietnam War has even been studied and codified.

War, race and the language used to describe the enemy are inexorably linked. They feed into each other and are in fact required to facilitate the massaging of the public consciousness into a state capable to delivering violence upon the enemy. The words we choose to use and highlight reflect the culture we seek to create or maintain. These choices while not always conscious are not the results of accidents.

The history of race, language and conflict in America is a long one, and it continues today. As we can see in this excerpt from the film, “Full Metal Jacket (1987),” the desire to categorize the other and then save them from themselves is an integral part to the self-convincing methods employed by imperialist armies.

The ironic nature of honcho ending up in Westerns, and the term for American becoming a racial epithet against Asians is nearly comical, if not for the long history of racialized language being used to promote certain ideas about adversaries. Some more analysis could be done the meaning behind the sentiments expressed in the quote above and notions of civilizing the third world and ‘exporting democracy.’ Just as the Western literary tradition made arguments to convince itself that slavery was beneficial to the upliftment of black peoples, the fictional Pogue Colonel echoes such sentiments in his desire to “free” the American in every gook trying to get out.