Controlling the Language of Political Warfare

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


language-bigOver at the Addicting Info website, which you may not have heard of but is surprisingly highly-trafficked, Elisabeth Parker posted a piece entitled “12 Phrases Progressives Need To Ditch (And What We Can Say Instead)” encouraging her readers to gain the upper hand in the war of political language. This strategy is certainly nothing new, but it’s worth a look at her recommendations as a window into the left’s mindset and a reminder that language matters. Whichever side controls the terminology on a given issue wins – it’s as simple as that.

Below are the phrases to which Parker objects, her explanations (edited for length), and my commentary in italics throughout. Some of them are old news, except perhaps to the young readers she’s obviously addressing, but she adds a new wrinkle here and there:

(1). Big Business: (Also Corporate America; Multinationals; Corporate Interests) People think, “what’s wrong with that?” After all, they’d like their own businesses to get “big.”

Exactly – but progressives disapprove of anyone becoming “too” successful. Everyone must be reduced to the same level of mediocrity.

Instead, progressives can try: Unelected Government. This puts big, global, multinationals in their proper context as unelected entities with unprecedented powers, whose actions have immense impact on our lives, and which we are powerless to hold accountable.

It’s no surprise that big government proponents despise big business. Here she is equating the latter with an illegitimate shadow government with evil designs, which must be overthrown. “Unelected government” is an even more outlandish distortion of the truth than the term “undocumented residents,” which she predictably gets to later.

(2). Entitlements: “Entitlements” sounds like something a bunch of spoiled, lazy, undeserving people irrationally think they should get for nothing.

For more information, see “Wall Street, Occupy.”

Instead, we progressives should try: Earned Benefits. This term not only sounds better for the progressive cause, it’s also more accurate.

I don’t expect a progressive to understand or care about economic realities, but here’s an article Ms. Parker should read about the explosive growth and impact of out-of-control entitlement programs on our economy: “The Shocking Truth on Entitlements.”

(3). Free Market Capitalism: (Also Capitalism, Free Markets, and Supply-Side Economics) Like “Fascism” and “Communism,” “Free Market Capitalism” is a 20th-century utopian ideal that has amply been proven an unworkable failure, and damaging to society. Instead, progressives should try: Socialized Risk, Privatized Profits.

She says “privatized profits” as if they’re a bad thing. At least she admits that Communism is an unworkable failure, but 20th century America’s extraordinary standard of living, unprecedented in history, and her superpower domination in less than 200 years of existence proves anything but the fact that capitalism is a failure or damaging to society at large. Certainly, capitalism is messy – which upsets progressive utopians – but unlike the collectivist, big government leviathan they prefer, capitalism offers mechanisms for correction.

(4). Government Spending: (Also Taxes, Burden, and Inconvenient) Conservatives talk about “government spending” like it’s this awful thing, but the fact is, communities across America benefit from U.S. tax dollars.

Instead, progressives should try: Investing in America. Because, that’s what our federal tax dollars do. They invest in education and infrastructure that wouldn’t prove profitable for businesses, but which still benefit society in the long-run.

This is a hopelessly naïve notion of what government spending actually accomplishes. Investment in America comes from supporting businesses and individual rights, which is anathema to the left’s “you didn’t build that” mentality and hostility to business.

(5). Gay Marriage/Same Sex Marriage: While these phrases are technically accurate, they play into the conservative notion that marriage between two men or two women is somehow different and inferior than a “real” marriage between a man and a woman. Instead, progressives should try: Marriage Equality.

And then progressives can use that phrase to refer to polygamous, polyandrous, bestial, and pedophiliac marriages too, because now that marriage has been redefined by the state, there is no legitimate argument against anyone marrying anyone or anything they like. The radical left only became interested in such a bourgeois concept as marriage anyway when they realized that “marriage equality” was the perfect means to destroy traditional marriage and strike a mortal blow at Christianity and the family unit.

(6). Gun Control: Yikes! That sounds like you want to control people.

Yes, by definition.

And all those “freedom loving” folks who want to bully gays and people of color into staying in their place will use that word against you.

Notice her quotation marks around “freedom-loving,” suggesting that we are just the opposite – and yet she’s the one urging restraints on freedom and individual rights. The left is simply oblivious to this disconnect. Her completely gratuitous crack about bullying gays and people of color doesn’t even merit response; progressives are simply hard-wired to believe that nonsense, which they cannot be reasoned out of, and to ignore their own bigotry.

Instead, progressives can try: Gun Safety. It sounds so nice, non-coercive, and reasonable … plus, it’s true. Most of us aren’t against guns, we just want them used safely. Or, for some added punch, try: Gun Violence Prevention.

This is a bald-faced lie. The left is so anti-gun they have zero tolerance toward grade-school kids eating gun-shaped pastries. If progressives were truly okay with gun safety, they would respect the rights of responsible, safety-conscious gun owners rather than demonize and criminalize them.

(7). Homophobic: People who oppose equal rights for gays, lesbians, and gender atypical individuals are not “afraid,” as the “phobic” suffix implies. They are mean, bigoted @ssholes. Instead, progressives should try: Anti-Gay.

She’s half-right: regardless of how you feel about their stance, people who consider homosexuality – not homosexuals – sinful or unnatural behavior do not have an “irrational fear” of it. I do enjoy, however, how Ms. Parker exposes her own bigotry.

(8). Illegal Aliens: It’s easy to support draconian laws against people we refer to by such a scary and impersonal term as “illegal aliens.” Plus … are they really “illegal?”

Um, yes – hence the term “illegal aliens.” And our citizenship laws aren’t “draconian,” except in the minds of open border proponents.

Instead, progressives can try: Undocumented Residents. They already do much of what we officially-recognized U.S. citizens do, plus they’re having more kids than Anglos are. Seems like immigration provides an ideal way for us to avoid the demographics crisis hitting Western Europe and Japan.

Yes, that’s a great way to solve a demographic crisis: let an unchecked flood of immigrants have all the children. That has worked out so well for Europe.

(9). Pro-Life: Ugh. They are NOT pro-life.

Actually, we are.

Once a child takes its first breath, these supposed conservative “pro-lifers” couldn’t care less about the quality of life for the child or mother.

This is another one of those utterly irrational and bigoted beliefs about evil, heartless conservatives that are hard-wired into the left’s psyche, and they cannot be reasoned out of it.

Instead, progressives can try: Anti-Choice. Because, that’s what they really are about. They don’t care about “life.” They only seek to deny choices to women. Not just the choice of whether or not to have a child, but whether a woman can — like a man — embrace her full sexuality without having to worry about pregnancy, and whether she can make related choices about her body, her career, and when to have children, as men always have.

Every conservative male I know is perfectly happy with our women embracing their full sexuality. What she’s saying is, women want consequence-free sex, which means murdering any children who inconveniently happen along. The fact that a baby is a being in its own right, distinct from the woman’s body, is incomprehensible to the irrational left.

(10). Right-To-Work: It’s total B.S. and doesn’t give you the right to do anything, unless you want to reject unions and earn less money than you would in a pro-union shop. Instead, progressives should try: Anti-Union: It’s far more accurate, and — as unions increasingly gain favor — will make conservatives look bad.

Well, she’s wrong about right-to-work laws but hey, I will confess to being “anti-union.”

(11). The Environment: When people talk about “the environment,” they often sound annoyingly self-righteous.

Finally we are in complete agreement.

Instead, we progressives can try: Shared Resources.  We may not care about some factory dumping crap into the ocean, but we dang-well care about our neighbors up the river not properly maintaining their septic tank.

At least she considers the environment in terms of resources, unlike hardcore environmentalists who believe humans should all die and stop raping Mother Gaia. It’s also interesting that in this instance she foregoes targeting evil Big Business and suggests that we target our neighbors instead – because what’s totalitarianism without reporting on your neighbors?

(12). Welfare: When conservatives talk about “welfare,” they make it sound like this pit people wallow in forever, rather than a source of help that’s available when we need it – and that we pay for through our taxes.

No, it’s paid for through other people’s taxes. And study after study shows that welfare too often does become a pit people wallow in forever.

Instead, progressives should try: Social Safety Net: When people think of a safety net, they’re more likely to think of a protection of last-resort, and one that they can instantly bounce out of like circus acrobats.

Except that for too many, it is the easy protection of first-and-last-resort. The “circus acrobat” allusion is simply hilarious.

And if we continue to grow the middle class — instead of cutting taxes for the rich and allowing companies to pay sub-living wages — perhaps the latter will be true again.

That’s not how you grow the middle class, but then, the left has no understanding of how wealth is created. In any case, progressives don’t truly care about the poor – if they did, they would let the engine of capitalism continue to propel more and more people out of poverty than any other economic system in history.

Ms. Parker’s recommendations may sound detached from reality, but don’t underestimate the power that language has to warp people’s perspective and to win political battles. Be conscious of this ploy and don’t allow progressives to dictate the terms of the debate.

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  • objectivefactsmatter

    Don’t address the problems. Never concede there are any! Change labels when you lose traction.

    You’re not fired, you’ve been transitioned.

  • Jason

    Unelected government was the one that really got me. What is it with these people? Unelected government? Look at yourselves first! Leftwingers have much more influence over Obama than any business lobby group would have over the GOP. Hypocrites.

  • iagozdi212

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    • Wolfthatknowsall

      Aren’t there enough ads on the internet without yours?

  • Paul Austin Murphy

    Some more specifically anti-Israel neologisms: ‘apartheid’, ‘Zio-Nazi’, ‘racist state’, etc. These are all just word-weapons used by Leftists and Islamists to contribute to the extermination of Israel – that ‘illegitimate entity’ (as Birmingham University’s Sue Blackwell put it).

    Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that Chomsky can take credit for penning at least one of these terms, such as ‘Israeli apartheid’, the Israeli ‘Nazi state’, which he also calls the US state, etc. It is definitely the case with ‘Israeli Bantustans’. I think Illan Pappe can take the credit for Israel’s “ethnic cleansing”.

    The point is that these words do the business. They work for the Leftist and the Islamist cause – the annihilation of Israel. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t true.

    Or, as Obama political advisers told him about the words ‘Islamic terrorism’ – ‘Words which work and words which don’t work.’ Clearly they believe that “Islamic terrorism” doesn’t work. Not because it is untrue; but precisely because it is true.

  • Paul Austin Murphy

    GLOSSARY OF WORDS USED BY MUSLIMS

    “peace” = What happens when “the entire
    world submits to Islam”.

    “justice” = i) What only full sharia law
    can bring about. ii) Justice to and for Muslims (e.g., the creation of
    sharia law in the UK/US and elsewhere).

    “rights” = The right of Muslims to practice
    sharia law. Or the rights to follow various sharia laws.

    “freedom” = i)What only full sharia law can
    bring about. ii)The freedom to be a Muslim. iii)The freedom to follow sharia
    law.

    “Ban the EDL [or the Satanic Verses, the
    Danish Cartoons, The Innocence of Islam, etc.].” = Impose sharia blasphemy law
    on the West

    “Islamic knowledge”/ “knowledge” = Knowledge
    of Islam, the Koran, the hadiths, etc.

    “truth” = What the Koran, Muhammad, the
    hadiths, etc. say is the truth. Islamic truth.

    “science” = Anything Islam accepts as
    science.

    “interfaith” = What Muslims do when they
    sell Islam to non-Muslims.

    “The Church of Interfaith” = Where Muslims
    go to proselytise on behalf of Islam.

    “unjust war” = Any war fought by infidels
    against Muslims; but not wars fought by Muslims against infidels or even wars
    fought between Muslims.

    “jihad as inner struggle” = The aspect of
    jihad which must go alongside violent jihad; which is deemed by most Muslims to
    be more important than “inner struggle”.

    “blasphemy” = Any criticism of Islam of any
    kind.

    “mockery of Islam” = Any criticism of Islam
    of any kind.

    “tolerance” = The tolerance of Muslim in
    non-Muslim countries.

    “embrace diversity” = Embrace Islamic or
    Muslim diversity. (Muslims are not required to return the favour.)

    “community cohesion” = Allowing Muslims to
    do exactly what they want to do if it is done as an example of Islamic practice
    or behaviour.

    “extreme Muslim” = A Muslim who tells the
    truth about Islam and practices true Islam.

    “moderate Muslim” = A Muslim who is waiting
    for the right time to increase Muslim demands and then become more active and
    vocal.

    “Islamic theology” = The interpretation and
    commentary – rather than the criticism and analysis found in other religions -
    of and on Islam.

    “just war”/“just cause” = Any war which
    advances Islam or which abides by Islamic precepts and edicts. Any war fought
    by Muslims against non-Muslims. Not the other way around.

    “Islamophobe”/”Islamophobia” = A critic of
    Islam or the behaviours of Muslims (as Muslims). The criticism of Islam or the
    criticism of Muslims (as Muslims).

    “racist”/”bigot”/”Nazi”/”far-right” = A
    critic of Islam or Muslims (as Muslims).

    “Islam is peace.”/”Islam means peace.” =
    Islam will bring about peace. It will do so by making the entire world “submit to
    Allah” and by imposing sharia law on everyone (including non-Muslims).

    “equality” = i)
    Equality between Muslim and Muslim; not between Muslim and non-Muslim. ii) The
    right of Muslims to follow or practice full sharia law as they see Christians
    following full Christian law (whatever they mean by that).

    “brotherhood” =
    i) Brotherhood between Muslims; not between Muslims and non-Muslims. ii)
    Brotherhood between Sunni Muslims and Sunni Muslims (or Shia Muslims and Shia
    Muslims, etc.).

    “Jesus” = The
    Muslim or Islamic Jesus; who bears no resemblance to the Christian Jesus except
    the name, ‘Jesus’.

    “the People of
    the Book” = Christians as they are seen by Muslims and in the Koran – a people
    who led the way to Muhammad and Islam. The Jewish “people of the book” no
    longer exist according to Islamic theology. Every modern Jew is an aberrant Jew
    and not a true child of “the children of Israel”.

    “charity” =
    Charity from Muslims to Muslims.

  • ADM64

    We now know what to look for.

  • Libfilth Fanatic

    I do take exception to the notion that, at least when dealing with the Libfilth, their warfare is “political”. That is true only in the sense that for the Libfilth EVERYTHING is political, so their warfare is always society-wide. To say that they are merely engaging in the political arena (as the headline suggests) by crafting intentionally deceptive language I think gives them some undeserved cover for their narcissistic meddling in everyones lives. There is NO area of any society that is safe from Libfilth “saviours” once they become a self-identified and organized force, period. This is no small distinction and one that must be understood before attempting to engage the Libfilth in battle.

    I know this point is only tangential to the authors real intention, which is to describe the operation of the Libfilth deception machine which runs full-bore 24/7. Still, framing intentional Libfilth deceptions as “political” in nature can be deceptive in and of itself if the larger context of Libfilth beliefs (everything is political) isn’t included.

    • Infidel4Ever

      Very well said. Everything is political to a progressive. I used to be very apolitical, but as I started to pay attention I realized progressives play politics every minute of the day about everything. Thus I realized I better become political just to keep up and properly oppose them.

      • DB1954

        You’ve noticed that too?

  • Big_Foot

    Unelected government? I wonder if Ms. Parker has any problem with unelected government bureaucrats or with unelected judges (at least those of the left-leaning variety).

    • WhiteHunter

      In addition to being certifiably and dangerously insane and in urgent need of being taken into custody (at gunpoint, if necessary), strapped into a straitjacket, and confined in a dark, padded, locked cell for life, Parker clearly doesn’t understand any of the fundamental differences between a corporation (“unelected government”) and a “government,” whether a “liberal western republic” or a totalitarian organized crime syndicate like the one the Obammunists have imposed on us.

      Last I heard, no corporation, even the most evil, has within at least more than 100 years even dreamed of doing things that a real government routinely does, such as: massacre its own citizens with utter impunity (e.g. Tienanmen Square, Ruby Ridge, Waco); impose and collect punitive taxes, under threat of imprisonment or death by gunfire for noncompliance; compel involuntary victimization by a known fraud (“Obamacare”); arbitrarily seize (i.e. steal) private property and evict its longtime, disabled owners (Kelo v. New London); flat-out lie under oath with impunity before a Congressional committee (e.g. Clintons; Holder; Lerner; and all others) and walk away smirking; utterly ignore laws and even its founding charter (a.k.a. “The Constitution”)..and many other crimes.

      • Seek

        David Koresh and his aides killed those people at Waco. The blood was on his fanatic religious hands.

        • ziggy zoggy

          Geek,

          Koresh did not force the ATF to burn all those people alive, you lunatic.

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    The better schools stress reading comprehension, perhaps the most political skill of all, for who doesn’t need to decode propaganda? See http://clarespark.com/2013/05/26/eva-moskowitz-and-the-charter-school-movement/. “Eva Moskowitz and the charter school movement.”

  • CowboyUp

    Leftists have to corrupt every word or phrase they pick up.
    I notice leftists’ hands-on education philosophy does a quick 180 between sex and firearms.

  • Wolfthatknowsall

    I knew we were in trouble by 1970, when I first heard the word, “fetus” applied to a child in the womb.

    We can’t spend our time arguing with the Left’s glossary. They win every time, when we do.

    • Sharps Rifle

      They adopted the medical terminology in order to make killing babies seem “clinical.”

      Language should clarify, not obfuscate. When I took biology, we were taught that the stages of development of a baby went from zygote to fetus to something else, and then came birth (this was a few years back, so my memory of the terms and when each is used is fuzzy…at best). My biology teacher then gave us a very profound non-biology lesson: Scientific language is used to be precise when discussing something scientifically. It can also be used to cloud an issue in debate or argument by playing on people’s ignorance. Always try to use plain English to make your point and save scientific jargon for when you need to explain a term to someone, and make plain the meaning of the term being used.

      The pro-abortion crowd plays on public ignorance and hate when pro-life people use plain English because or use of plain English shows the nasty and evil intent of the pro-abortion crowd. Use our OWN glossary to beat the LIVING HELL out of the left! That’s how we’ll win. NEVER give in to the left AT ALL!

  • laura r

    the word “illegal” has been banned in some states, also “citizen”. will they sue me? arrest? any info?

  • DB1954

    Obama and all the Demwits call spending “investments.”

  • ziggy zoggy

    One way to prevent leftists from dictating a debate is to stop calling them progressives. Most of their beliefs are regressive. Their idol, Marx, died over a hundred years ago and his crackpot economic theories are hopelessly outdated. These people are the opposite of liberal and that word has become a pejorative, which is why they’ve switched toprogressive.”

  • ziggy zoggy

    “Abortion” is a euphemism for infanticide.