Calling people Yuppies may be as harsh as using words like "nigger,"
"chink," "Jew," "loser," "butt ugly," "stupid," "worthless" or any
host of prejudicial inflammatory invectives. To
group people into categories and label them is an act of Terrorism,
for it ruthlessly dehumanizes all those who are the target.
I learned this lesson the hard way, by using the "Y" word, the Yuppie
Word. Find out what I learned.
11, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 667
The Terror of Using the "Y"-Word:
A Mea Culpa On The Mis-use Of The Word "Yuppie"
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 11, 2003--
There is Terror in issuing a "sweeping judgment" over people, places
and things. It is like rubbing an eraser over a section of humanity.
It extricates those who "appear" outside one's circle of "acceptance."
It's a mass assassination of their character.
Terrorism in issuing a "sweeping judgment"
Some people sweep
judgment on groups of others based on a person's color, or their economic or
academic status, or sometimes by how "fat" they are, or whether they
speak correctly. Others tend to lump people into
segregated herds based on their religion, attacking Jews or Muslims,
or, Christians simply because of their choice of worship or birth into
The derision becomes fractional when such groups as the
Irish and Protestant go to war over the righteousness of beliefs
Middle East jihads against the infidels lead to the
bombing of World Trade Centers and snipers picking off American troops
trying to restore Liberty where Tyranny's shadow still casts its
Some bigots whittle their world of prejudice so small
they elect to search for defects in the shape of a person's
teeth, or a blemish, or as actor Jason Alexander did in the movie, "Shallow Hal," fault a
beautiful woman for having an elongated toe, thus marring her beauty
within by the measure of her outside.
I am a personal victim of group assassination.
Most of mine is self inflicted.
As a teen, I attacked my
own nose. A thin kid as I was shooting up to six
feet four inches, I was conscious of all my physical defects.
I could tell you how many pimples I had, and how each was the "mark of
My legs and upper arms, to me, were mere sticks
with a few pieces of flesh tacked on. But my crowning
defect was my nose.
I was sure it was far too
long for my face, even though no one ever said a word to me about it.
Like the religious fanatic with the
cat-of-nine-tails whipping himself for impure thoughts, I would stand sideways to the mirror, holding a hand mirror
up against my face to better study the ugliness of my profile.
There was no doubt in my self-deprecating mind that my nose was a hose hanging off my face.
My nose was punctuated by my defective upper lip that seemed to grotesquely
cantilever over my lower one the longer I studied my nose. Fault
finders keep looking until all they see is ugliness. I did
that well, unto myself.
It turned out that I wasn't
as ugly as I thought, in fact, to many I was called handsome, but nevertheless, during
those sorry years of puberty, I ravaged my mind with my own
depreciation of my image until I felt I was as ugly as any duckling
could be. I had Terrorized myself. I had castigated
my being and chosen to judge what was inside by the view from the
That's probably why I cast about the word
"Yuppie" the other day in a disparaging way, forgetting that to some
the word is like hot lava. The "Y"-word incident reminded
me of the dangers of quick group judgments, and the Terror they
I was reminded that when we cast dispersions on
others based on "group prejudice," we feed the Beast of Terror.
He likes us to measure the outsides, not the insides, of our fellow
The Beast of Terror knows the more we
separate ourselves from another human being by building walls, real or
imagined, the harder it becomes to scale those walls and embrace
everyone as an ally in the battle for Vigilance.
Even what may appear as a simple lumping of certain traits into the
word "Yuppie" can drive away people who hate labels and deny their
membership in such a group, even if the vast majority of people might
typecast them in that role for a wide range of reasons.
The Beast can
turn us into ravaging animals of selfish despair
Judging other on sight is
part of human nature. It may not be the best part, but is a
device people use to be attracted to or repelled by certain groups.
For some people turning the corner on Central Park West
and 66th and running into a herd of Hells Angels' blocking the
sidewalk, might just opt to turn around and beat a path the other way,
or make a wide berth around them. They may not
realize the Hells Angels' are passing out Bible scriptures because
they judged the tattoos, and burly hirsute bodies, and smell of grease
as warnings rather than invitations.
The Beast--that force seeking to turn us all into
ravaging animals of selfish despair--wants us to cleave ourselves from
one another. He wants the poor to hate the rich, the
uneducated to feel oppressed by the more schooled, the well-dressed to
shun the poorer clothed, the Liberal to spew venom at the
He wants the white to get angry at the black for
constantly playing the "race card" to achieve, and the black to want
to avenge all the injustice paid upon them by the whites.
He wants the fat or thin or "ugly" child to shy
from others, hiding in the dark canyons of self impotence and turning
into a victim who becomes a doormat over whose body others climb the ladder
There are endless permutations
of "group" isolation, either by individuals seeking to ban themselves
from society based on "what they think others think," or, literally
being driven to private refuge by heartless comments and jibes that
spear into their souls and scar them forever, words like:
"nigger," "kike," "raghead," "chink," "fatso,"
"spic," "ugly," "stupid,"
"you're a nobody," "loser," "worthless," and, my new derogation,
It seems I recently slung that word
around, unaware of its brutality.
A couple of days ago I wrote a story
about Kevin Gleason, a 25-year-old New York City man who has chosen to
join the Navy and become a corpsman. Kevin is a seasoned
paramedic, and while he is working for ConEd and living on the
Upper East Side, he volunteers as a paramedic in Central Park during
weekends and is far from being a "Yuppie" in the classic sense.
To me, Yuppies
are more interested in the selfish attainment of Life's securities
than the selfless risks of life's insecurities
I titled the story about Kevin: "A
Yuppie's Duty To Battle The Beast of Terror." I chose the
theme of "Yuppie" to illustrate how Kevin was under pressure by those around him
to not join the Navy and not risk his life as a corpsman versus remaining
in the "safety" of civilian life, pursing non-combatant dreams and
"Yuppies," in my book, are selfish young people who
shirk and shun patriotic duties on the assumption someone else can do
them. They eat the fruits of Liberty but are above
picking them. They like upward mobility, money, security
and safety. They might wave a flag if it looks good,
or drop down to the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving to help out, but
whatever they do they boast about it. Service to them is
also social currency.
In my story about Kevin Gleason, I
used the image of Yuppie as a contrast to what Kevin really was.
At first, I thought he might be one--a Yuppie. That was
all based on my incredible inability to see inside a person.
The guy was simply sitting on a park
bench, innocently watching a softball game in Central Park.
He just looked the part. He looked like a successful 25-year-old
New York male, seeking to climb the ladder of success within the Big
As we talked, he mentioned
living on the Upper West Side, and working for a big company.
I made the early assumption he was an "upwardly mobile" guy until I
later found out he was giving it all up to become a Navy corpsman and
to fulfill an inner need he has to serve his country.
What he appeared to be and what
he was were in critical contrast. My vision of the Yuppie
isn't a guy willing to give up the fruits of success for the
battlefields of the Congo, being attacked by Tse Tse flies as well as
bullets, all for a couple of hundred bucks a week and a rack with a
hundred other sweaty, burping, flatulating guys.
The Yuppie I had in mind
was driving the Lincoln Navigator, or planning on it. His
401k was already bulging, and he was the first to run up and slap a
guy like Kevin on the back and say aloud: "Good choice, I'm
proud of you!" And then when Kevin was out of earshot, whisper:
"Wow, that guy has got to be nuts--all that going for him and he's
giving it up! Better him than me!"
I confess. I used the word "Yuppie" as an
to smash my Vigilance sledgehammer upon a group known for its aversion
to anything that impedes its goal of success.
To me, a "Yuppie" is the
younger, upwardly mobile
person more interested in the selfish attainment of life's securities
than in the selfless risks of life's insecurities. That is
a sweeping indictment. To "group watchers" it may be true,
but to "group haters" it's just another form of prejudice.
In using the word "Yuppie," I passed judgment over all
young people who don't leap up and grab the Sword of Vigilance and
rush to the far corners of the earth with a willingness to sacrifice
themselves for others. Thus, I diminished the value of many
brave and courageous young people who serve in a variety of ways.
This error was brought to my
attention in a no-holds-barred e-mail.
In it the author corrected me and said that Kevin was not a Yuppie,
neither was her boyfriend who played softball, or the members of
Goldman Sachs, an opposing team playing a group of construction
In part, her e-mail said:
want to let you know that I think the article was a well deserved
tribute to Kevin and all those who, like him, want to serve our
country. My father, my uncle, and several cousins have all served in
the military and I have boundless respect for not only our nation's
military, but also our city's civil service employees who put their
safety on the line every day to ensure ours(not only Kevin, but 2
other police officer friends were on the scene of the towers on 9/11).
However, I do think it is important to look beyond any outside stigmas
and appearances. Those young goldman sach's players opposing your
friend's softball team of construction workers may well be Kevin
Gleason's themselves. Sweeping judgments cant ever do anything but
My reaction at first was
defensive. However, the more I thought about it, the more I
realized that I had taken a group and bashed it.
The Goldman Sachs players could well have a "Kevin" among
them. And, military service is one of many
ways to serve a nation, a public and the world.
My issue, I believe, is in the area of
Complacency. When a large number of people want others to
protect them, and don't feel the personal duty or responsibility to do
it themselves, I get concerned.
Maybe that's why Kevin leaped out at me as
He had a choice to go one way and chose
another. My error was in making all who do not chose that
choice wrong, or implying it. I generalized the Complacency of
Society with the word Yuppie. Not a wise choice.
Human nature is tricky. I find
it hard not to lump people into groups, to sort them as though they
were change in my pocket, deciding where to invest my time and
This is a dehumanizing process.
I remember as a child feeling
ostracized from the group of other children because my mother was
divorced. In the small town of Hood River, Oregon, a divorced
woman with children was taboo. I felt the alienation and
isolation of people turning away because of a stigma.
MEA MAXIMA CULPA
When I notice
a very rich person draped in wealth, I am quick to think he or she
raped, pillaged and plundered the innocent to get it. I rarely
think the person may have created multiple jobs for people, fired the
engines of industry, and served the wealth of the nation.
So, I want to thank the writer of the
e-mail for reminding me not to disparage groups.
I can't say I won't, because I didn't
think I did when I wrote what I wrote. Sometimes it takes
a mirror to tell us we aren't as smart as we thought.
But, if anyone out there doesn't want
to be a Yuppie, you're not. It's my Mea Culpa.
Instead, I appoint you all Soldiers
or Corpsmen of Vigilance.
And, I open myself to growth so the
Beast of Terror can't use my fingers and words to trick me into
thinking I know everything.
July 10--666: A Reminder That Evil
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