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Enrich your Vocab for Bank exam: The Aliens in the U.S

Oct 25, 2016 18:29 IST

    Vocabulary is very important to have strong command over English language and that is why, you should always strive to enrich your word stock with new and unique words from whatever sources you can. Newspapers help a lot in this and that is why, you should go through newspapers in order to learn new words. In this endeavor of ours, we are bringing to you an article from ‘The Hindu’ (dated October 25th, 2016) and the difficult words, highlighted, from that article. These words are explained in detail as well. Come and learn together in your pursuit of success.

    Article: The Aliens in the U.S

    On August 2015, The New York Times wrote an editorial calling for retiring the word “alien” from America’s statutes. In 1798, the country framed the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the word ‘alien’ has remained part of American immigration debates for centuries. “Non-permanent resident aliens”, “alien entrepreneurs”… there are several categories to term non-citizens in the U.S. A particularly curious group, “aliens of extraordinary ability”, comprises not the kind that we see in the numerous wars between the American forces and invaders from the outer space in Hollywood films, but people like actor Priyanka Chopra.

    It is a different matter that travel magazine Condé Nast put Ms. Chopra on its cover recently, with the words ‘refugee’, ‘immigrant’, and ‘outsider’ crossed out in red and labeling her ‘traveler’, perhaps trying to convey the fluid nature of national identity people like her could afford and are accustomed to these days, while millions are condemned to the lowly life of being immigrants and refugees. Though the mainstream media platforms such as the NYT have stopped or reduced the use of the term ‘aliens’, it is being liberally used this election season, particularly by Republican politicians.

    In July 2016, on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention that formalized the nomination of Donald Trump as the party’s candidate, one of his advisers explained the significance of this election for America to some of us foreign journalists.

    Joseph Schmitz was speaking on Mr. Trump’s foreign policy but it also involved the question of American identity. He drew from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War what he called the “Sun Tzu maxim”: in order to win wars, you have to know yourself and know your enemy. “Which is one of the reasons why Donald Trump has been focusing not only on those principles that define who we as Americans are, but also on who our enemies are,” he added.

    Mr. Schmitz named democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law as the basis of America’s alliance with European partners after the Second World War. “President (Ronald) Reagan restated, and kind of updated, those three foundational principles in a famous speech he gave in June 1982 in the British House of Commons. He referred to individual liberty, representative government and the rule of law under God (emphasis added). You’ll probably also see some more details on which we see our enemies as,” he said, about how Mr. Trump’s campaign would unveil.

    American identity is a problematic notion. George H.W. Bush, who followed Reagan, opened the American borders to more immigration, even as the digital economy was taking shape then. Through the three decades of neo-liberal globalization, a broad consensus emerged among the political and economic elite of the U.S. that immigration is fundamental to the greatness of America. “Immigrants aren’t somehow changing the American character; immigrants are the American character,” President Barack Obama said recently.

    The argument that immigrants are the American character is a romantic notion and it made also made economic sense, as the economy expanded in a regulated manner, absorbing cheaper and brighter talent from other countries over decades. What held them together was the promise of the “American dream”, the promise of prosperity. Those who spoke different languages, looked different and even carried their cultural baggage to their new land were united in their pursuit of wealth that only America could provide. The notion of a closet alien community threatening the nation continued through many decades, though it kept changing according to the circumstances. Italians, Japanese and suspected or actual communists were targeted at various periods. But overall, the argument that immigrants contributed to the prosperity and the forward march of the U.S. gained strength in the initial decades of globalization.

    The promise of globalization was interrupted by two events at the turn of the century — the meltdown on Wall Street and the 9/11 terror attacks. Just as America was barely recovering from them, in 2008, two disruptive forces struck again — a second economic crisis, and the election of the first African-American President.

    “An African-American whose first name was one consonant removed from the world’s most infamous terrorist becoming President,” as Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, put it, marked a new era in U.S democracy and diversity. Mr. Obama’s election also created a massive white backlash. The number of white supremacist ‘Patriot’ groups in the U.S. jumped soon after he became the President — from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009, 824 in 2010, 1,274 in 2011 and 1,360 in 2012. It dipped a bit after his second election but last year, the number shot up again to 998.

    Mr. Obama has himself pointed out that the Republican obstructionism that has brought his administration to a standstill in his second term is driven also by a racial element. During the 2008 primary contest, Hillary Clinton staffers circulated pictures of Mr. Obama in African garbs. Forty-three per cent of Republican voters and 15 per cent of Democratic voters believe he is a Muslim. The White House website does not use his middle name Hussein at all. Mr. Obama symbolized change and promised change. How much of the change that he promised has been realized remains an open question, but it is clear that America’s global supremacy declined under his watch. And an average American is more stressed, financially and socially today than she was in 2008. It is a crisis in the economic model, but it is Mr. Obama who gets the blame. That is the rationale behind Mr. Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.

    As the promise of prosperity is diminishing due to the capitalist crisis and more and more people feel themselves as aliens in an increasingly diverse country, Americans have been furiously searching for an answer to the question, “who am I?” Genealogy or tracking one’s ancestry has become the second most popular hobby after gardening; and ancestry websites are second only to porn sites in terms of popularity.

    “Discover what makes you uniquely you,” is the sales pitch of the website that leads this market, estimated to be over $1 billion two years ago. In one showcased instance, the site says: “Lezlie had always encountered curiosity about her ethnicity from people she’d meet…now she has discovered that she is 22 percent Congo-Cameroon, 24 percent Ghana/Ivory Coast, 35 percent Great Britain.”

    But the ‘discovery’ is an open-ended one — as more people sign up, and the technology gets superior, the search goes on endlessly, roping in more and more people. Evidently, what drives this craze is not the search of the individual uniqueness but the longing for a community. These platforms also market themselves by advertising startling discoveries — such as Mr. Obama, Hollywood actor Brad Pitt and former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin sharing some ancestry.

    Those who know their Edward Said know that the best way to define yourself is to define your enemy. Mr. Trump framed these questions through his campaign — ‘who are we?’ and ‘who is our enemy?’ He has offered his answers and has also forced Ms. Clinton to respond. They offer conflicting visions.

    In Ms. Clinton’s account, there isn’t a singular enemy figure. Mr. Trump challenged her to name “Islamic terrorism” as the enemy in their second televised presidential debate. Ms. Clinton, who prefers the word “jihadi terrorism”, did not take the bait, and responded, “My vision of America is an America where everyone has a place, if you’re willing to work hard, you do your part, you contribute to the community. That’s what America is.” Her notion of America was illustrated in a parade of military veterans of diverse ethnic backgrounds at the Democratic National Convention that included Muslims and a turban-wearing Sikh. In this version, the ultimate “contribution to the community” is the willingness to fight its wars and that makes one eligible to partake of its prosperity.

    Urging African-Americans and Hispanics to join behind him, Mr. Trump said at a rally last week: “I am going to bring all Americans together. We are going to love each other. We are not going to be divided for much longer… Imagine what we can achieve if we start working as one people, under one God, saluting the American flag.” It’s a sign-off he’s used regularly on the campaign trail.

    Here is the crucial innovation that Mr. Trump has made to the racial politics of America. Those who denounce him are straining themselves looking for white supremacist and anti-Semitic undertones in this campaign. White supremacists and some extreme-right Christian groups were traditionally driven by anti-Semitic beliefs and many commentators have sought to put Mr. Trump in that basket. The Republican candidate’s attack on big banks was instantly interpreted as a coded anti-Semitic message. It is safe to assume that all xenophobes, racists, misogynists and homophobes are with him but it will be erroneous to assume that only they are with him. A nation “under one god” that has an enemy in “Islamic terrorism” conveys a totally different and unprecedented meaning to a lot of Americans.

    “November 8 will be the independence day,” he said in the same speech. Lacking in moral authority and hit by sex scandals, Mr. Trump may not succeed in delivering the nation from aliens like it happened in the Hollywood blockbuster Independence Day. He being a white man is also a limiting factor — an African-American or a Hispanic version of Mr. Trump in the future would be lethal. America’s search for answers to these questions will outlast this election and the winner will have to help resolve them.

    1. Retire (verb): withdraw to or from a particular place

    Synonym: pull out, remove, surrender, withdraw

    Antonym: include, remain, approve, stay

    Sentence: He retired into washroom after the first round of debate for a long period of time.

    2. Afford (verb): have enough money to pay for / provide or supply an opportunity or facility

    Synonym: allow, manage, bear, incur

    Antonym: refuse, reject, take away

    Sentence: The rooftop terrace of his house affords very beautiful views of the hill station far away.

    3. Notion (noun): a conception or belief about something / an impulse or desire

    Synonym: concept, approach, assumption

    Antonym: being, concrete, reality

    Sentence: His notion of being successful does not find any support from his family members

    4. Standstill (noun): a situation or condition in which there is no movement or activity at all

    Synonym: impasse, stalemate, deadlock

    Antonym: agreement, continuation, advancement

    Sentence: Because of the visit of the President to the city, the traffic came to a standstill yesterday the whole day.

    5. Symbolize (verb): be a symbol of / represents something by means or image

    Synonym: embody, epitomize, represent

    Antonym: hide, conceal

    Sentence: The ceremonial dagger in his hand in the photo symbolizes justice for the defendant.

    6. Supremacy (noun): the state or condition of being superior to all others in authority or power

    Synonym: command, primacy, authority

    Antonym: inferiority, subordination, weakness, subservience

    Sentence: His supremacy has never been disputed in the party ranks as the majority leader in the Parliament.

    7. Rationale (noun): a set of reasons or a logical basis for doing something or believing in something

    Synonym: excuse, explanation, hypothesis

    Antonym: discouragement, evidence, proof, reality

    Sentence: He explained the rationale behind the change in the policy of the government.

    8. Craze (noun): an enthusiasm for a particular activity or object which appears suddenly and seems very popular but is very short lived in nature

    Synonym: mania, passion, enthusiasm, fever

    Antonym: calm, coldness, indifference

    Sentence: The new craze for step aerobics is going to fizzle out very soon .

    9. Startling (adjective): very surprising, astonishing or remarkable

    Synonym: alarming, astonishing, shocking

    Antonym: expected, certain, confirmed

    Sentence: The startling discovery of new evidence in the murder case investigation has thrown new surprises to the police.

    10. Lethal (adjective): sufficient to cause death / very dangerous or harmful

    Synonym: dangerous, destructive, fatal, destroying

    Antonym: constructive, healthy, kind

    Sentence: The sudden eruption of the volcano is the most lethal ever in the history of the country.

    Question (1-5): Answer the following questions as directed

    1. Find the word that means the same as ‘mutual’

    1. Magnetic
    2. Ascetic
    3. Kinetic
    4. Reciprocal
    5. Other than those given in options

    Solution: Option (4)

    Explanation: The given word means that there has been reciprocal decision regarding something. Among the given options, option (4) means the same and that is why, it is the right choice among the given options.

    2. Find the word that means the same as ‘mollify’

    1. Stupefy
    2. Denounce
    3. Announce
    4. Deride
    5. Appease

    Solution: Option (5)

    Explanation: The given word means to give somebody consolation or relieve somebody in grief. Among the given options, option (5) refers to the same and that is why, it is the right choice among the given options.

    3. Find the word that means the same as ‘mettle’

    1. Courage
    2. Satisfaction
    3. Rectification
    4. Deliberation
    5. Astounding

    Solution: Option (1)

    Explanation: The given word means courage or determination to do something or to prove something to somebody. Among the given options, option (1) refers to the same and that is why, it is the right choice among the given options.

    4. Find the word that means the opposite as ‘mercurial’

    1. Wonderful
    2. Meritorious
    3. Usurp
    4. Blasting
    5. Stable

    Solution: Option (5)

    Explanation: The given word means that somebody is not reliable at all regarding change in moods. Among the given options, option (5) means the opposite since it means a static attitude and that makes it the right choice among the given options.

    5. Find the word that means the opposite as ‘mendacity’

    1. Deception
    2. Assertion
    3. Talismanic
    4. Dramatic
    5. Honesty

    Solution: Option (5)

    Explanation: The given word means falsehood or deception. Among the given options, option (5) refers to the opposite to this and that makes it the right choice among the given options.

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