Idea Of The Day

Are You Nuancé or Just Wobbly?

In certain American circles, those who have (or have had) the occasional wobbly moment about the war on terror are labeled nuancé. (To use this word effectively, say it deliberately and sarcastically: NU-ON-SAY.) That’s because such people cannot give their unqualified enthusiasm for the campaign in Afghanistan and the larger and more prolonged battle against terrorists the world over. These individuals are not anti-war or anti-American (AA is another phenomenon altogether), yet they do nuance their support with an occasional and reserved “but.” Perhaps you’ve had a nuancé moment, or at least recognize when a wobbly moment is about to hit? Felt a bit queasy before the bombing campaign began? Feel a bit nauseous about the photographs of dead people on the front page of your newspaper? Not sure whether it’s a good idea if the kids see video footage of American bombs destroying real people? Uncertain that military courts to try alleged terrorists are a thoroughly good thing? Finding the Gen. Patton within you elusive? Oh, you arenuancé.

You may, of course, prefer to characterize your nuanced phases as temporary bouts of wobbliness or that you are occasionally a Wobbly. You should know, however, that a wobbly, as the American Dictionary puts it, was “a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, a chiefly US labor organization dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism, active especially in the early 1900s.” The etymology comes from a mispronunciation of I(ndustrial) W(orkers of the) W(orld). Instead of EYE DOUBLE U, DOUBLE U, some people’s articulation of IWW became EYE WOBBLY WOBBLY.