The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced Tuesday the creation of “Para Bellum Labs” – an initiative to describe the work and startup culture of the new Digital and Data Department. According to the announcement, Para Bellum Labs will help create a culture to allow the RNC to innovate faster and recruit more talented people who can build digital platforms to understand public opinion, engage voters and power elections.
“The RNC has a role to lead on data and digital for the good of the Party from the top of the ticket down,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “Through Para Bellum Labs we will continue bringing in top talent to inspire innovative products to power campaigns and change the way we do business in the Republican Party.”
Though ‘Para Bellum’ means “(prepare)* for war” in Latin, the phrase “parabellum” was used by a German arms manufacturer as a name for its signature guns-first, the light machine gun used by the Kaiser’s best during World War I, and then its most iconic gun: the Parabellum Pistole, Gawker immediately noted.
The National Jewish Democratic Committee rushed to call on the Republican Party to apologize for using sensitive term for new innovation. NJDC Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline said, “Frankly, I am astounded and sorely disappointed that the Republican National Committee would put so little thought into the message of their new venture. Using the phrasing “para bellum” not only exploits horrific symbolism, but also communicates a fatalist &violent message toward any who differ with you.”
“The RNC should immediately repudiate the name of this venture, denounce the approach it suggests, and apologize to all the people this names offends—those of the Greatest Generation, those who have ever been victims of gun violence, and those in the Jewish community and beyond who were victims of the Nazi genocide,” the NJDC statement read.
Asked for a comment by Slate’s Dave Weigel, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer responded with a link to a definition of “gawker”: “Interestingly, a spectator who stares stupidly without intelligent awareness.”