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Reversing Meaning

January 6th, 2012

Fascinating how right-wingers are vilifying positive words.

They started with “liberal.” That word, when you look it up, has associations like tolerant, unprejudiced, open-minded, enlightened, permissive, free, easygoing, advanced, modern, forward-looking, flexible, free, generous, benevolent, charitable, altruistic, unselfish, and enlightened–and is the opposite of strict, miserly, narrow-minded, and bigoted (words which are, not ironically, associated with “conservative”). They attacked the noble term as the “L” word and made it an epithet. They similarly have been trying to besmirch the word “Democratic” by severing the ending and truncating it to “Democrat,” emphasizing the “RAT” at the end.

Then they went after “elite,” a word embodying the concept of exceptionalism (a term they favor), a word which signifies extreme talent and capability–the best, the crème de la crème. They then applied it to people who never suggested they were actually elite, and snidely implied that these “elite” were snobby, arrogant assholes who lorded their superiority over everyone else. Why? Because they “know better than you,” simply for forwarding their own agenda, something everyone in politics does.

Now, when you hear Newt Gingrich (the original master of the art of subverting language to political means) attacking Mitt Romney, you hear another word being defamed and reviled: “moderate.” This is indicative of how extreme the right wing is getting: the new aspersion is aimed not at liberals but at the less extreme members of their own party. They are actually vilifying a word which describes someone who is not a frenzied radical. And that pretty much tells you where the mainstream of the Republican party is nowadays.

So, if you want something good and clean to be soiled and besmirched, you know who the experts are.

  1. stevetv
    January 6th, 2012 at 14:05 | #1

    When Gingrich says “moderate”, he really means “northeasterner”. Were Romney from Florida, he wouldn’t call him that.

  2. Kitty
    January 7th, 2012 at 04:55 | #2

    They even do it unconsciously.
    When they say Faith I hear bigotry.
    When they say Freedom and Liberty I hear letting fat cats, banks and corporations destroy America and Americans to reap enormous profits.
    When they say Family I hear “people like us”.
    I hate how they have co-opted the very words that make this country great into meaning “Just for us. Not for you”

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