You can hardly escape reading an article online nowadays or watching a "news" program on TV, without encountering the term "clap back". As with
many pop culture phenomenons, and especially with the emergence of hip new buzzwords, very rarely do people stop to consider where
originated, or in the case of buzzwords, the etymological history of the term.
Take the term "clap back" for instance. It just /sounds/ cool, amirite?
Such and such celebrity "claps back" at an unflattering news story
AOC "claps back" at Ted Cruz
Such and such 'woke' person "claps back" at the white male patriarchy
Such and such politician "claps back" at an NRA press release
And on and on it goes; you get the drift.
If one just contextually interprets the phrase "clap back" in how it's deployed grammatically , the would likely interpret it to mean (even if they
don't understand the concept of contextualizing and merely react to its use at a subconscious level) some type of retort. It seems to often intended
to represent a witty, clever and by the tone of how it's used by the author, generally a superior, decisive, argument-ending response in some manner
of debate or disagreement. A verbal counter-punch/counter-blow that neutralizes your opponent and wins the argument.
Some folks with heightened sense of curiosity might try to dig a bit deeper to find the origin of the phrase, and trace its lineage back to some
cultural reference point. If you utilize Internet linguistic tools like Merriam-Websters or similar online dictionaries, you will get some form of
explanation of from whence the term entered the English lexicon (albeit a sugarcoated and sanitized one):
Merriam-Webster: the Origin of 'Clap Back'
Clapbacks are now so much a part of our regular discourse online that even your humble dictionary has been accused of clapping back.
Clapback is a noun that derives from an earlier verb, clap back, which refers to the same thing: responding to a criticism with a withering
Seems fairly innocuous right? So it's just a clever comeback in a rap battle. Got it.
But lurking behind this facade of a modern musical construct it a more sinister beginning, one which Merriam-Webster's mentions briefly at the end of
their discussion of the term's history:
You may think the clap in question is the well-known clap that means “a sudden blow.” It’s not. In this context, clap refers to shooting
someone; the word refers to the sound of a handgun shot. It shows up in rap lyrics back to the early 1990s:
Liggedy let the nines clap, cause I'm back …
— EPMD (feat. Das EFX), “Cummin’ At Cha” on Business Never Personal, 1992
My lyrical format sounds off like gun claps…
— Redman, “Da Journee” on Dare Iz A Darkside, 1994
By 2000, clap wasn’t just referring to the sound of a gun, but to the act of shooting someone:
Clap whoever stand between Shawn and figures…
— Jay-Z, “Intro” on The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, 2000
Oh. Hmm. Well that complicates things a bit, doesn't it. So you're saying that every time a talking head on CNN, or a blogger, or a writer on the
Atlantic, or even a columnist up in the rarefied air of The New York Times, incorporates the term 'clap back' in their material...they are utilizing
language that is a proxy term for a gun fight?
Wait...so who are the culprits for glorifying guns in American culture? I know the media has honed in on those mean "white nationalists" who show up
armed for fully peaceful protests from time to time. But ... now that we think a bit deeper on the matter ... are the "white nationalists"
normalizing the use of firearms to settle everyday ordinary disputes over traffic incidents, or "beefs" at the store, or bumping into a stranger at
a bar ... or is that situation more of a political statement on the liberties identified for US citizens (2nd amendment of the Constitution) and as
last-resort, defensive tool against government tyranny?
Is it really necessary to explore which context (casual references to gun fights in music and media vs peaceful display of responsible gun ownership)
is more toxic in American culture?
When will there be a "withering" MSM piece on the lengthy history of the use of the term "clap back" as a reference to gun violence in rap
culture, and at least some token criticism and claim of responsibility for "news" organizations that have seized the mantle of moral superiority in
this country, all the while lecturing their opponents using .... a metaphor for shooting someone? Is that the type of discourse that we are
cultivating now in America? Rather than engaging in a reasoned, measured debate with our opponents, we just skip ahead to "clapping back" at
I will be on the lookout for some introspection and self-awareness from our propaganda masters in the MSM.. I'll be anxiously awaiting the analysis
of the term 'clap back' in American media and why it should be immediately stricken from public discourse, and how it displays a shocking level of
tolerance for violence and condones 'returning gun fire' as an acceptable response to those we disagree with.
That piece should be coming out any day now...