The War on...Words
We’re engaged in a destructive, debilitating war, a war that directly drains our resources and inhibits our ability to function as free-thinking, motivated, self-reliant individuals. It’s a conflict that pits arbitrarily-chosen demographic groups against each other, creating discord and tension where none existed, and indeed, none needs to exist.
Political advocacy groups, politicians, news people, and educators employ single words or short phrases that are euphemisms, with the intention of influencing voters’ perceptions or turning a given circumstance into personal financial advantage.
Some well-respected writers, such as Thomas Sowell, have touched on this subject. Much more can be said on the subject, however, including the very telling explanation of who benefits from such deception and why.
Here, then, follows a short list - by no means complete - of deceptive words and phrases in common use today:
This one is perhaps the most explosive and controversial, so what better place to start? There are many reasons why this word is used, and is used inappropriately and applied inaccurately in the great majority of instances. The main reason is this: calling an individual or a group “racist” is an effective way to deflect legitimate criticism and turn it back on your accuser.
This obviously true of President Obama: criticize any of his policies and the charges of racism inevitably follow. This “playing the race card,” while transparent and predictable to seasoned political observers, is nonetheless quite effective with the casually-attentive voter, and the liberal media are only too happy to support its use.
This term has come to mean “a greater percentage of African-Americans than would otherwise be in this group without outside intervention.” It can be any group - a student population, a workforce segment, residents in a given neighborhood, etc. - but “diversity” does not mean more Jewish people in a non-Jewish population, it does not mean more Asians in a group, and it never means more whites in a predominantly black group. This is not to be construed as a value judgment of any kind regarding the benefit or appropriateness of increasing the number of African-Americans in a given population group. This is simply the observation that “diversity” has primarily come to mean more blacks.
We seek diversity in our student body; that is our goal.
Choice, Women’s Health, Family Planning
These are interesting terms, indeed. They are code-speak for “abortion.” However, since the 1970s the percentage of Americans who favor abortion-on-demand-for-any-reason has fallen precipitously, from the mid-60% range to under 40%. Therefore, liberals fear that “abortion” is now a bad word, so abortion advocates and providers couch the term in something less ominous. We’re Choosing to be Healthy, to Plan our Families.
No you’re not. You’re planning on having an abortion, but you’re afraid to be honest about it, lest, as the old saying goes, someone gets the right impression. Again, this is not an argument in support of or against the concept of abortion. That’s a debate for a different time. This is just the accurate observation that these words and phrases are used to obscure their real intent.
This is the Left’s word to describe the evil of (Republican-run) business. Their implication is that profit is bad, and the existence of profit somehow prevents rank and file workers from earning a fair wage (which has lead to the amusing phrase Income Inequality). To the Left, companies should either make no profit (pay their workers everything they earn once the company covers its costs) or donate all their profits to causes like homeless shelters or the environmental lobby. The Left never does get around to explaining exactly where the profit-funded R&D should come from that is needed for the next generation of iPhones or the next blood-pressure medication that saves their mother’s life. No matter. To the Left, only Republicans seek profit, and profit is bad.
Once upon a time, this was known as Global Warming. But then the highly-questionable, politically-driven hoped-for catastrophic results of “Warming” ran headlong into the immoveable bridge abutment of reality, taking a 20-year hiatus beginning in the late-90s. The sea level rise failed to materialize. The Antarctic ice cap actually increased in size. The flooding over of Manhattan Island, famously predicted by the liberal media in 2008 to occur by 2015, never happened. Not even one parking space has been lost to the “rising sea.” It has also been conclusively demonstrated that the Arctic Circle was far warmer thousands of years ago and was a forest, not a frozen region like today. And the diminishing number of polar bears - their threatened existence ever the visible symbol of the destructive effects of man-caused Global Warming - are in fact doing just fine.
In response to all this, the original term of “Global Warming” has now been amended to “Climate Change.” This enables the liberal media to cast a wider net, and claim that any unusual weather event is the fault of manmade emissions. If it’s too warm or too cold or there’s too much or too little precipitation - anything -it due to Climate Change.
Anything liberals don’t like is “big.” Big oil. Big insurance. Big pharmaceutical. Big business. The liberal media work this word into their reportage so smoothly and seamlessly that most people never even notice. Nor do people notice the absence of “Big” liberal causes: Big unions. Big trial lawyers. Big civil rights groups. Those, of course, aren’t “big.” They’re “good.”
The theme common to all of the preceding is that the use of these words/phrases redounds to the electoral and/or financial benefit of left-leaning or liberal politicians and causes. By far, the majority of “code-word”-speak in popular use these days is done either to hide a potentially negative word’s meaning from being too apparent to the public or at worst, to deceive the public into thinking that that word or phrase means something entirely different than what it actually does.
This is a full-blown war on the meaning and logic of words, but only the Left is waging it. Therefore, the Left is defining the rules under which the war is waged, the Left is creating the divisions caused by these euphemistic words. The Left may well be winning the contest of public perception that results from their use. However, our new president is a powerful antidote to the disease of euphemistic words and phrases. His communications style will no doubt circumvent much of this rhetorical nonsense, and the various policy arguments will be won or lost on the merits of the specific issue, not on the window-dressing of deceptive language.