In the latest round of sparring between Sen. Bob Bennett and contender Mike Lee, Bennett blasted Lee in a video for making the claim that there are as many “thugs” in Afghanistan as there are in Utah County. ---So let’s consider the thug life in Afghanistan vs. Provo.
If you’re interested in an actual fact check on the claims from Bennett’s attack video, Gehrke’s your man with this analysis. But for a semantics check let’s consider what Lee means by saying “thugs”.
With the context of the statement being a consideration of active militants in Afghanistan, the most plausible explanation of why Lee would say “thug” as opposed to say, Taliban or Al-Qaeda or just “active militants” it’s possible Lee decided to just throw the “thug” blanket over distinct groups that would include Al-Qaeda, warlords, Taliban fighters, and just your general America-hating, ne’er-do-wells with guns.
That’s fine, but if Lee is going to get all “street” on classifying foreign combatants, he probably should have gone with the term “gangsta.”
According to the venerable Urban Dictionary, a “gangsta’ is more the sociopathic criminal type that would likely include terrorists and rogue militia men. According to the Urban Dictionary, however, “thug” more accurately describes a person struggling with adversity.
%uFFFD“As Tupac defined it, a thug is someone who is going through struggles, has gone through struggles, and continues to live day by day with nothing for them. That person is a thug. and the life they are living is the thug life. A thug is NOT a gangster.”
Unfortunately, even by this definition, Lee misses the mark. With unemployment in 2009 at 40 percent in Afghanistan and an estimated 20 million people living below the poverty line—in a country of 28 million—the average Afghani lives the kind of thug life that would make the typical Provo poser shit his britches to even think about.
Getting a mission call to Iowa or not getting engaged in your first semester at BYU are the kinds of struggles that just doesn’t stack up on the adversity scale to life in a country where landmines outnumber trees and nearly half the population is without a job.
Luckily for Lee, the nuances of the urban lingo probably won’t be a talking point at the next debate.