Even After Trump, Left Still Using 'Weasel Words' to Conceal Truth
We’ve heard it a million times: “Words mean things.” Yet in political discourse, words are often used as manipulative tools to promote an agenda, not to communicate truth. Political language has become -- and maybe it always has been -- insincere.
In Politics and the English Language, George Orwell wrote:
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.
In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics.” All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
We certainly see this in politics. “Weasel words,” as Theodore Roosevelt called them, are designed to make the objectionable acceptable. “Pro-choice” hides the truth of abortion beneath the veneer of freedom. “Undocumented worker” glosses over illegalities with benign terminology about employment. “Social justice” glams up redistribution of wealth. “Voluntary” in tax law is a slippery term that doesn’t really mean what you think it means.
“War on terrorism” is as nonsensical as “war on tanks,” but it is used to avoid naming the real enemy. “Consensus” is equated with science when applied to man-made global warming.
“Racism” now means anything that defends American or Southern culture. “Homophobia” involves no real fear -- it’s a slur leveled against anyone who has a legitimate beef with the LGBT agenda. “Sexist” is now the descriptor for anyone who defies the modern feminist goal to equalize the sexes and to empower women at the expense of men.
Everyday words can also have meaning imposed on them, transforming normal speech into so-called “code words” or “dog whistles.”
If a white man talks about America having a real “culture problem in urban areas,” then it’s supposedly code for “racism.” “States' rights” is now synonymous with “white supremacism.” The same is true for “cutting taxes” and “law and order.” All of these terms have become code words for undermining equality and civil rights, even though sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Cutting taxes actually means cutting taxes, so everyone can benefit. Law and order is what it says: promoting justice and maintaining the civil society.
One reason for this breakdown in language is the rise of subjectivity: people defining themselves, their own experiences, or their perspectives in their own terms, and everyone else has to accept it, even if it flies in the face of objective reality.
If a man wants to be called a woman, then he’s a woman, and woe be unto you if you use the wrong pronoun. If two men raising donor kids want to be called “parents,” “mommy and daddy,” and a “family,” then the rest of us must accept their self-identification as truth.
In light of this constant manipulation of language, I find recent efforts in the media to rename and define the “alt-right” quite interesting. In a constantly shifting world of language, journalism is always trying to keep up and remain accurate, often making adjustments by labeling people or groups according to their own self-identification. A common example is replacing the term “blacks” with “African-Americans,” even though most never set foot on African soil, and many have mixed heritage. If we were consistent in this (and we are not, which is my main point), none of us would be called “Americans.” We’d all be hyphenated. I’d be Irish-French-Scottish-English-American.