Skip to comments.Resorting to name-calling? At least get it right (LIBERAL BEMOANS USE OF THE 'C-WORD')
Posted on 07/11/2010 8:33:17 AM PDT by Chi-townChief
Last Saturday afternoon, my sister and her husband were out in Lemont to attend their niece's fourth birthday party. Burgers and brats were sizzling on the grill, presents were piled on the living room coffee table, and the U.S.-Ghana World Cup game was playing on the flatscreen.
When one of the other guests discovered that my sister and her husband were not rooting for the Americans, but rather were quietly pulling for the underdog Ghana, he became belligerent, calling them a number of names that are unprintable in a family newspaper but also asserting that they were "a couple of filthy communists," "total commies," "godless commies," etc., etc., pursuing them through the party - ignoring their reluctance to engage him and their insistence that it was just a soccer match and thus no big deal who anybody rooted for - until they had no choice but to leave.
Such uncivil and combative behavior is boorish and horrible regardless of the epithets the man happened to be using. But his repeated variation on the theme of "communist" is just one more example of an increasingly obnoxious trend that has been plaguing the so-called "discourse" of the American right.
This trend, of course, is the rampant misuse and frequent misapplication of the terms "communism" and "communist" that keep getting tossed around angrily by name-calling conservatives in relation to any idea that is not marching in absolute lockstep with their own ideology.
"Communism" and "communist" are real and useful terms with precise meanings and histories. But they are almost never properly employed anymore. Instead, what conservatives generally mean when they name-call someone a "communist" is: "I disagree with you, and I resent and oppose your democratic right to hold and express an opinion that is different from mine, antithetical as that is to the entire concept and spirit of democracy."
So, today's column is about words, definitions and really saying what you honestly mean. And, conservatives, I'm not necessarily saying that you shouldn't call anyone a "communist." I'm just here to help you make sure that if you do, you're doing it correctly, and that if what you really mean is, "Anybody with perspectives or values that differ from my own needs to shut up and go away," then you can just say that instead!
For starters, to return to the unfortunate incident in Lemont, is being a fan of a different sports team than someone else really the same as communism? Which is to say, is it identical - per the actual definition of "communism" - to: embracing a social structure in which classes are eradicated and property is commonly controlled? No. It might make you mad or confused to view a sporting event at which not every single spectator feels like chanting "USA!" and "We're No. 1!", but it is not, technically, "communist."
As you have likely noticed, though, the gross misapplication of the terms "communism" and "communist" is not limited to children's birthday parties in the south suburbs. These errors are everywhere in the so-called American political "conversation."
On June 24, for instance, Glenn Beck, who already has established himself as a misuser extraordinaire of the whole notion of communism, dedicated that evening's entire program to attempting to rehabilitate the reputation of red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy and to defining virtually each and every progressive idea or cause as equivalent to "communism."
Because it is sad to see proud Americans such as Glenn Beck and the gentleman at the party want, so badly, to express themselves with great clarity and insight, yet be unable to do so accurately, I propose the following simple, three-question checklist of queries you can use whenever you feel your lips twitch to form the C-word.
Just ask yourself: Is the thing or idea that I am attempting to berate or dismiss out of hand with a single word (as opposed to thoughtful debate):
1. A political theory of total collectivism in an utterly classless and stateless society? If no, don't say "communist"; just say, "Shut up." If yes, go right ahead.
2. An economic system based on the principle "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need"? If no, don't say "communist"; just say, "I am incapable of listening to, let alone respecting or considering, an opinion that is not the same as mine." If yes, go right ahead.
3. A form of socialism that abolishes private ownership? If no, don't say "communist"; just say, "My ignorance makes me defensive and hostile toward people who make different decisions than I do." If yes, go right ahead.
See? Easy. Clip this column. Stick it to your fridge with an American flag magnet. Put it in your wallet next to your National Rifle Association membership card. Whatever. It's a free country.
And free means free to have your own opinion. So don't wear out the words "commie" or "communist," which certainly have their uses but possibly not the ones you think.
While I am making lists, here are a handful of beliefs with which you may disagree, but which, if you do agree with them, do not automatically render you a "communist" - "godless," "filthy," or otherwise:
A new path to citizenship for immigrants to this country.
Equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgendered people.
Equal rights for women.
The idea that massive, faceless, multibillion-dollar corporations are not, in fact, "human" and should not be treated as such under the law.
The idea that the government can provide useful services and programs besides just the imperialist spread of war, aka "defense."
Public transportation and/or bicycles.
Paying your taxes.
The separation of church and state.
Universal health care.
I could continue with this list, but these are just the tip of the complicated iceberg of views I have recently expressed, which have subsequently gotten me declared, incorrectly, an adherent of "communism" in various private and public settings. There is a lot to discuss about each of these issues, but there is not a lot to indicate that any of them are especially "red"/"pinko"/"dirty commie."
Would it be preferable to engage in a discourse that really was a discourse? In which nuance and debate were genuinely welcome, and differing opinions and suggestions were not rejected summarily with a single, curt word? Sure it would.
But in the meantime, if you are going to call somebody a reductive and belittling name bec ause they think thoughts that are not identical to yours, then please, have some pride, and at least call the right ones.
KATHLEEN ROONEY IS A FORMER U.S. SENATE AIDE AND WRITER LIVING IN CHICAGO. HER LATEST BOOK OF ESSAYS IS "FOR YOU, FOR YOU I AM TRILLING THESE SONGS."
Unless her family members WANTED a confrontation they could have kept their choice to themselves.
Just skip the name-calling and bring out the knives. 0.x / s
Of course, the fact that a number of those listed beliefs are part of the Communist platform is just a coincidence...
Just the fact that they were watching soccer makes them a bunch of commies...ok, I have my flame-proof suit on.
a liberal whining about name calling?
Funny how libtards and progressive seek the use of exact definitions of words, and yet, change definitions to suit their collective purposes whenever deemed necessary to do so. Wonder if she accepts the Constitution exactly as it is written just as she wants us to accept the literal definition of communism or communist......=.=
Such uncivil and combative behavior is boorish and horrible regardless of the epithets the man happened to be using. But his repeated variation on the theme of “communist” is just one more example of an increasingly obnoxious trend that has been plaguing the so-called “discourse” of the American right.
Just what everyone needs . . a liberal giving lessons on manners. LOL.....I guess they set the example in their public schools and neighborhoods
Kathleen “Loony” Rooney...
I prefer using a different “c-word” to describe leftists: corporatist.
That’s the whole alphabet they’ve covered now, right?
When one of the other guests discovered that my sister and her husband were not rooting for the Americans, but rather were quietly pulling for the underdog Ghana, he became belligerent, calling them a number of names that are unprintable in a family newspaper but also asserting that they were “a couple of filthy communists,” “total commies,” “godless commies,” etc., etc., pursuing them through the party
IT’S FRIGGIN’ SOCCER. WGAS?
Stop being a Godless Commie, Kathleen. What a communist b***h.
Make "Democrat" the new epithet. It mostly would be accurate, too.
This commie broad is a terrible writer.
Yep, complete fabrication. She set up a strawman to knock down, and at her next tofu and MD 20-20 party with the black panthers she’ll be craning her neck to listen for compliments on how enlightened and open-minded she is.
And no, I don’t think Kathleen is a commie. She smells more like a goosestepping fascist. Sieg Heil! sweet-cheeks.
Rooney wrote a book at one point about her life as a nude model. From the clothed pics of her I see, I don’t think the people who hired her paid very much.
Who is this Commie C***?
Oh yeah! Truly profound. I wonder when, given the state of the economy and the decline of Old Media when this oh-so-profound outre, daring, hipster-intellectual, sex-kitten literatus may have to go back to taking her clothes off for money. Perhaps in a setting other than an artist’s studio?
And who uses “communist” as an epithet these days, anyway?
You have to get a load of this, impossible to parody: