The following is a translation of an article written by Miklós Király-Kiss, originally published on Mandiner.hu.
If the flag of the LGBTQ community can be called a rainbow flag, then the Tajik flag can also be called Hungarian without giving it another thought. Let’s not allow the rainbow symbol to be hijacked!
‘A rainbow is an optical phenomenon caused by refraction, internal reflection and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a continuous spectrum of light appearing in the sky’—the Wikipedia definition says. In our postmodern present, however, it’s almost impossible not to have a complete code, fraught with ideological battles, running through the back of our minds when we hear words like ‘rainbow’ or ‘rainbow colour’. Unfortunately, it’s perfectly natural because one can instinctively sense it—from emphases, glances, and winks—
when a word or a concept becomes ideologically or historically burdened and controversial or undergoes a change in meaning.
This change can be the result of a long, natural process or a novelty imposed on language users from above by quasi-authority. And since all languages are based on the fact that words mean the same thing to all language users, when their meaning is challenged, modified, or even disappears, their power is correspondingly diminished, too. This is why it’s a shocking experience that even the vast majority of self-proclaimed conservative authors tend to refer to a ‘rainbow flag’ or a ‘rainbow family’ with such ease— terms that are clearly the result of the hijacking of words and symbols—without even attempting to get off the motorway smoothly paved by the linguistic (and intellectual) steamroller of progressivism.
The symbolism of the rainbow in itself is very strong (meaning that the storm has passed, tranquillity is restored, with nature telling us this with beautiful colours)—no wonder that every culture and/or religion has associated a positive meaning with it. In the Book of Genesis, in the story of Noah, God signals the end of the flood:
Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud;”’ (Gen 9:11–14).
In our culture, this is where the symbolism of the rainbow is derived from: the Old Testament covenant between God and man—whether one likes it or not.
But let’s start with the family. There are few families in Hungary where the collective memories of 1944 and 1945 are positive. A fact that is easily forgotten in the shadow of countless other tragedies is that, due to problems with food and medicine supplies and the advance of the front, infant mortality rose by an abrupt one and a half times in those two years.
With fertility booming again after the end of the war, babies (especially twins) who were lucky enough to have had both parents survive the global conflagrations—even if their older sibling did not—and so were given a chance to live, were called rainbow babies, symbolizing hope for their families (that were the rainbow families at the time) as ‘flood survivors’. It’s from this wonderful vernacular ingenuity that we have got to where we are today. It was hard work indeed to achieve this distortion, that’s for sure, but that doesn’t mean we should fall for it.
Today, a rainbow family is still a family where a new child arrives soon after a previous tragedy: a late miscarriage, a stillbirth, or the death of an infant.
So lifestyle communities should look for another name and symbol—but of course, this will not happen, and since spoken language is a consensual–majority tool, in the case of a successful hijacking, the change in meaning will inexorably happen. But at least us conservatives should do what can be done and read the small print, too.*
Now let’s move on to our crash course in vexillology (the study of flags). It is conceptually impossible for the bunting of the ‘alphabet soup community’ to be rainbow-coloured, since the rainbow has seven colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), while the LGBTQ one has six, so it is at most multicolour striped, or variegated. It’s quite brilliant that in our intersectionality-laden present, South American Cuzco in Peru, a city with an extremely rich history, was forced to change its rainbow-coloured flag to ‘avoid misunderstandings’—of course, as we already know, in a society of equals there are always those who are more equal than others.
it is also odd that this (seven-coloured) rainbow flag, which began to be used as a peace symbol against nuclear armament in Italy in the sixties, could be given such a different meaning by such a simple rewording. And there is also a good deal of truth in the fact that if the flag of the LGBTQ community can be called a rainbow flag, then the Tajik flag can also be called Hungarian, or vice versa, without giving it another thought, because there is no point in dwelling on minor differences anyway.
And there’s even more than that, at the level of words: the almost obligatory translation of the now quasi-Hungarian word ‘pride’ as ‘büszkeség’ [meaning pride, but also pridefulness and hauteur]. Few are aware that ‘pride’ has a dual meaning in English, referring not only to a feeling of deep satisfaction that comes from something seen as a source of honour or respect, but also arrogance and hubris—which is why it’s also on the list of the seven deadly sins, as older generations may remember from Seven, starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. In addition, the Hungarian title of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Büszkeség és balítélet, was probably also born out of a compulsion to retain alliteration, since, given the plot and characters, something like ‘arrogance and preconception’ in Hungarian would have been far more appropriate (even if no doubt less well-sounding).
It would immediately become a different story if we talked about Pride as the march, month, or whatever of ‘arrogance’.
The Latin name for the concept is ‘superbia’, which may not ring familiar to all ears, but the ancient Greek name, ‘hubris’, may do. Its opposite is ‘humilitas’ (humility), which scientists, athletes, coaches, and motivational coaches, so popular these days, like to recommend as an indispensable prerequisite for success.
May all penmen remember when they write their next article that the precise use of terms is the alpha and omega of all communication.
And those who allow their words to be hijacked will fare ill—and they can only blame themselves.
A dear friend of mine, who grew up in the much more honest and ruthless world of the Middle East, was taught by his father, an experienced bazaar salesman: ‘Son, if someone cheats you, it’s not their fault, it’s yours because you let them.’ This is one of the reasons why it is not worth living our lives according to the world-changing social engineering and language policy guidelines of the masters of these impractical, useless, and inoperable ideas. Let us at least be honest with ourselves—we’ll be laid out, anyhow.**
* The author refers to another article on the subject, also published on Mandiner, which looked at how same-sex couples in Hungary tend to become parents through donor insemination and surrogacy, rather than adoption, as opposed to the common narrative of the apologists of same-sex parenting.
**A paraphrase of a line of the Attila József poem titled ‘Two Hexameters’:
Why should I be honest? I’ll be laid out, anyhow!
Why should I not be honest! I’ll be laid out, anyhow. (translated by Katalin N. Ullrich)
Click here to read the original article.