Ah, the art of writing! From elegant multi-volume novels to a well-distilled Tweet, the written (and spoken) word is lauded with grand awards while somehow simultaneously dismissed as something that can be done by anyone. But while just about anyone can use language to communicate, it can be glaringly obvious when there’s something… missing.
Copyeditors, prepare your red pens: I present to you this official inauguration poster for our new president, issued by the Library of Congress and, until last night, available for purchase in their online shop.
“No dream is too big, no challenge is to great. Nothing we want for the future is beyond our reach.”
Students of elementary school English classes across the globe, having been drilled with the differences between “two,” “too,” and “to,”are either cringing in embarrassment or cackling with glee that their errors can no longer be marked down. After all, the AMERICAN PRESIDENT does it, too!
All the more embarrassing, the description of the poster stated that “this print captures the essence of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency of the United States.” Oh dear, does it?
The page selling the poster in the Library’s online store was removed last night, presumably after the mistake was noticed. Web archives still show the blunder.
Sure, everyone makes mistakes. But when they’re made on such a grand scale, people will notice. When they are made repeatedly, more people notice. It becomes a pattern. And although it’s only been a few weeks, this isn’t a first for those newly come to power.
In honor of Abraham Lincoln’s 208th birthday, the GOP quoted the esteemed former president on Twitter as having said: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Which would be great, if he’d actually said it. (He didn’t.)
And our newly-confirmed Secretary of Education may or may not be responsible for the “creative” writing found in a Tweet from the U. S. Department of Education that misspelled the name of W. E. B. Du Bois.
And particularly with February being Black History month and all, this mistake received a significant amount of (pointed, shade-rich) response.
"In the Days of Loose & Careless Logic, We Must Teach Thinkers to THINK." – William Edward Burghardt DU Bois 👏🏽 https://t.co/3m03Vnt5C1
— NAACP (@NAACP) February 12, 2017
Are there bigger things to worry about? Most certainly. But it’s small slip-ups like these that often make one wonder what else is being overlooked. If the most basic grammatical errors are disregarded in the way leaders present themselves in public, then how much attention to detail can we expect from these leaders when it comes to bigger decisions? What else is being disregarded in haste?
I know there’s a been push for small government from the redder side of the political spectrum, but perhaps the services of a copyeditor wouldn’t go amiss.