Articles From the August 1994 Unification News


"Moonie" a Bad Word?

This was published in a magazine whose editor had invited an essay on the position of the Unification community on the use of the term "moonie."

I can remember occasional nocturnal adventures going home from the club-house after an afternoon's rugby and an extended evening of camaraderie. As freshmen in college, it was not unusual for my friends and I to pass a rozzer (Dublin slang for a policeman) at his post and "moon" him from a speeding car! Emboldened by the ingestion of copious pints of Guinness, we were anesthetized to any possible offensiveness with which such conduct might be received by the innocent and hard- working officer, never mind anyone else who happened to witness the crude exposure of an Irish tush!! Later as a full-time missionary for the Unification Church when I began to be accosted with verbal barrages of "f--k you Moonie" from speeding cars, I realized that some youthful indiscretions had caught up with me. Purgatory had for some unknown reason begun prematurely on earth! Upon hearing that other church members had been subjected to the same abuse, I questioned them as to what sports they had played in their youth and what the accompanying social life was like. It was only then that I realized that this name calling had nothing to do with any occasional youthful disregard for authority but that it had all to do with my religious affiliation.

The term "Moonie," as a reference to a member of the Unification Church, was not coined by Unificationists. Rather, it is a drive-by shot from the coward in the speeding vehicle intended to harm and to injure. Like the paintball fired from an air-powered gun in mock battle, it impacts and splats, leaving the modern-day version of the yellow cross impressed upon the conversos (a term referring to those Jews in the Middle Ages who were forced to "convert" to Christianity and who were then required to wear identifying yellow stars). The coiners of the term "Moonie" knew full well the impact of the suffix "ie," and its informal, disrespectful, and derogatory "register" (a term of art for any linguist). Add to that the prurient undertone, and the coiners of the term, the editors at the Washington Post, had landed a keeper in February of 1974. Not known for any overt displays of affection towards Unificationists, the Post has perpetuated the use of this term until today. When challenged recently to finally let it go, Leonard Downie, executive editor at the Post, wrote to me and stated that "we do not agree that the term is pejorative and offensive and therefore allowed its use""

In the intervening years since the Post first introduced the "Moonie" term, their editors have ceded any exclusive rights and this offensive epithet came to be generously shared with anyone seeking to exhibit their own naked prejudice. And so "Moonie" came to be added to an undistinguished list of similar terms, such as, "nigger," "kike," "fag," "chink," "jap," "mick, "guinea," "spick," etc..

After its inception and adoption by the movers and shakers of our social mores, the editors and the TV anchors, the term was picked up by those detractors of the Unification community. In particular it was seized upon by those who elected to turn their animus of the Unification Church into a profitable career. The use of "Moonie" came to be persistently used in order to blind-side any project, activity, or initiative, undertaken by the Reverend Moon himself, by any single Unificationist, or by the Unification community as a whole. Call it a "Moonie such-and-such" and any consideration or regard for the matter at hand is justifiably and expediently excused. Call the individual a "Moonie" and the listener or reader is immediately endowed with all there is to know of the individual being discussed. The New York Times , in an editorial Winking at Baseball's Racism, criticized the suspension of Marge Schott from baseball for one year as being too lenient. The Times questioned why Ms. Schott did not receive the same punishment as Al Campanis who was forced to leave the game forever for stating that blacks "lacked the necessities" to manage baseball teams. A more recent example is the public outcry over the comments of the New York Yankees' community affairs liaison officer comparing his Bronx neighbors to "monkeys" whom he contended did nothing more than hang on basketball rings.

Such insensitive and offensive rhetoric incited universal indignation in the press and along the hallowed hallways of the major networks.

One can only wonder how long Unificationists must bide their time before their sincere petitions regarding the offensive use of the term "Moonie" will finally be acknowledged. I consider twenty years to be enough. Any short-term anesthesia has long since worn off and it really hurts to be so persistently abused. Unification Church members have been derided as "Moonies," then mobbed and beaten. In New York city, a seven-months pregnant woman was beaten and sent to the hospital as a result of irrational hatred of "Moonies." Church missionaries have been murdered in the course of their public church duties because they were "Moonies." Members have been abducted, imprisoned, assaulted and abused. In many instances the perpetrators were not charged by the authorities or even admonished by society because their victims were only "Moonies." Hate-mongers are depicted as "experts" on this sub-species called "Moonies" and all too often they are provided free air-time to express their moonophobia with impunity.

While I am familiar with the saying that there is always someone out there who doesn't get it, I do hope that at least one ol' die-hard finally gets it! And so I invite Leonard Downie to step forward to do the decent thing and hit a vestige of the Washington Post's own religious bigotry out of the ball park! And then I promise not to show my Irish tush around the offices of the Washington Post ever again!!!


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