LONG BEACH (gorewon2000.net) February 3, 2001 -- In a concerted effort to control political debate in America, conservatives have bastardized the English language. It is time for us to take it back. STEP 3: RESCUE THE FAMILY
At the root of right wing propaganda lies a central goal: to take those elements of belief that liberals should be most proud of, and demonize them. Not an easy task, considering what those beliefs are, and yet the right wing has, to a great extent, succeeded. How? By changing the language. By taking a word, and turning it on its head:
a person who is liberal; one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways; capitalized : a member or supporter of a liberal political party; an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights
When someone attacks you for being a "liberal", they are asserting that there is something shameful about being open-minded, and open to change. They are saying that it is a bad thing to fight for the fullest possible human rights. These ideas form the basis of conservatism, defined as "tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions, TRADITIONAL." Conservatives believe that our current level of civilization, learning, progress, and social justice is not only good enough, but "as good as it gets," or need ever get. They see change as dangerous, a negative.
a person who shows extravagant sympathy especially for an object of alleged persecution
When someone attacks you for being a "bleeding heart", they are asserting that there is such a thing as extravagance when it comes to compassion for others. They are admitting that compassion is only a virtue when limited or constrained. This is the belief around which "compassionate conservatism" revolves: that one human being's empathy for another's suffering should be circumspect; that it is fine to feel badly for another human being who is suffering, but not TOO badly.
granting or tending to grant permission : TOLERANT
When someone attacks you for being "permissive", they are asserting that tolerance is a bad thing, and by extension, that we as individuals have the right to control the behavior of others; that others need our "permission" to live as they wish to live. This idea is at the root of the "culture wars": that a person's decision to live a particular life is not a matter of individual choice, but a matter requiring the consent of the wider society.
a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices
When someone accuses you of being a "bigot," because you are speaking out against reactionary views regarding the rights or humanity of others, they are engaging in a textbook example of the political strategy known as "The Big Lie." A liberal cannot be a bigot. A liberal must be open to change; a bigot must be obstinately devoted to a particular view. A permissive person cannot be a bigot. A permissive person believes in tolerance, a bigot in prejudices.
HOW DO WE WIN?
By taking back the words they have destroyed. By fighting for them, and defending them. By proudly proclaiming them. We cannot be so nice that we refuse to call a liar a liar, a propagandist a propagandist, an ignorant person ignorant. There is no virtue in silence in the face of The Big Lie.