The culture warriors weapon of choice is language
To debase an economy you first debase the currency. To debase a culture you must debase the language. Like the dollar, the plain meaning of words is currency in a society. It clarifies purpose and makes evident the values held by the citizens.
Which is why The Friends Of Libera Guilt have distorted much plain speaking on issues to muddy their intentions. Why use one-syllable words when you can employ an army of equivocations? To read contemporary social criticism from academics and the arts these days is to stroll through a tar pit of circumlocution.
“Inspired by true events” is the verisimilitude of the Quentin Tarantino Hollywood culture. College faculty chatter about micro aggressions, trigger warnings, cultural appropriations while shouting down contrary opinions. Environmental cultists talk about sustainability, deniers and climate inversion. Who talks like this in real life— except someone looking to confuse the listener?
Here’s why culture warriors need to cast a shroud over speech: Most of the Left’s cherished notions on social equality wilt at the sight of reality. The abject failures of centralized planning in the USSR, China, Venezuela and Cambodia (to cite just a few) speak to the inherent failure of a top-down philosophy for governing.
What to do in the face of empirical evidence that contradicts the Bernie Sanders screeds about “the Revolution”? Use a verbal stealth attack. Put a new suit on this loser and see if anyone salutes. (Sanders’ polls suggest there a lot of people saluting.)
To illustrate, take the immigration debate, where an estimated 11 million broke the law to illegally stay in the United States. There isn’t a way to pretty up the deluge of law breakers. Unless… you call the children Dreamers and describe their parents’ law-breaking as an “act of love”. With that kind of motherhood handle, Hilary Clinton can now get traction without getting her hands soiled with sordid legalities about deportation.
Then there’s global warming. Oops, too easily quantified. Best change that to the wider net of climate change. Which alarmist Barack Obama can then use to describe anything from snowstorms to hurricanes to mildew in the basement. Given long-term historical evidence rebutting the “science” that even a six-year-old can comprehend, change the topic by changing the language.
Next on the linguistic pretzel, take traditional genders, male (XY) and female (XX), and shatter them into the lifestyle porridge of cisgendered, curious and LGBTQITS. The Pride movement has sub categories the way the tax code has exemptions. Once you accept there are 23 possible euphemisms to describe the preferences of drivers, it won’t do to record gender on their licenses any longer (at least in the words of one British MP).
Then there is that Pavarotti of parsing, former president and alleged sexual predator Bill Clinton, with his “depends what the meaning of 'is' is”. The former president uses verbal gymnastics to obscure the fact that his legal behaviour doesn’t mean correct behaviour. His wife Hilary, meanwhile, has suggested that classified government information is only classified when she decides it is.
As the joke goes, Hilary and Bill Clinton could find a loophole in a Stop sign.
Which helps account for the soaring popularity of Donald Trump. There is no nuance, no subtlety to Trump’s message of “restoring greatness to America”. The bluntness of his speech, even its coarseness, stands in opposition to the word salads served by Barack Obama and the Clintons. Is anyone in doubt what Trump is proposing? As one person on Twitter lamented, they don’t think Trump has presidential temperament, but they agree with just about everything he says on the issues.
His directness is, in fact, the principle attack point on him from the Left, reassuring nervous liberals by mocking Trump’s unadorned riffing on contemporary Americana. No wonder. If words mean exactly what they say, how can you hide your redistributionist agendas in the thickets? This must be stopped if the Obama legacy is to carry on past January of 2017.
So expect to see language diversion ratcheted in this race. Hammering opposing speech seeks to disqualify any perspective that disagrees with the left/green/Bernie Sanders perspective. As Robert Tracinski of The Federalist writes, “…no one else is entitled to question your perspective. It’s true, because it’s true for you.”
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).