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."
I'm finding a way to steal this phrase, Lancey.
Why don’t Rooney and her phony baloney sister move to Ghana? Or someplace equally far and foreign. By the way, I don’t for one minute believe the fabricated Lamont “incident.” Although I DO believe that Rooney and her kind consistently root against America. Heck, they cheer for America to lose wars, why wouldn’t they side with America’s opponents in something as frivolous as a soccer game?
How about "Illuminati"?
That has a specific meaning too.
Apparently there is also a handshake.
And puppet strings.
And population control.
"Most of us believe socialism is what the socialists want us to believe it is - a share-the-wealth program. That is the theory. But is that how it works?... If one understands that socialism is not a share-the-wealth program, but is in reality a method to consolidate and control the wealth, then the seeming paradox of super-rich men promoting socialism becomes no paradox at all. Instead it becomes the logical, even the perfect tool of power-seeking megalomaniacs. Communism, or more accurately, socialism, is not a movement of the downtrodden masses, but of the economic elite." - Gary Allen, None Dare Call It Conspiracy
The article revolves all around her, so why didn't she write the belief: Paying my taxes?
Why did they have a soccer game on? It’s so GAY
It seems that Kathleen Rooney is doing a metaphysical form of nude modeling in the last part of her article by espousing the principles exposed in Cleon Skousen's "The Naked Communist." Glenn Beck has referred to Mr. Skousen, too.
The guest way out of line was the one that wouldn’t shut up...One does not make everyone uncomfortable when being a guest at someone else’s home....I’d have a few things to say to such a bore, then I would leave...The hostess should have shut the guy up....and if he couldn’t, she should have told him to leave....one name to drop off for any future partys.
Rooney worked for Turban Durbin: the guy who called GIs Nazis. ‘Nough said
Kathleen's confused. When I call her ideas 'communist', I'm not name calling. I'm commenting on how her views are alike with communist and socialist goals. How can she be 'insulted' if it is what it is?
THAT tired old canard. Ann Coulter demolished this leftoid crap years ago.
I think there is more as regards Communism. Not only is there Karl Marx's economic Communism (theory of surplus value), but there is also cultural Communism, to use William Lind's description, or kitsch Communism to use David Horowitz's description; e.g., so-called political correctness.
PC is a form of Communism. Gramsci wanted to destroy the culture or Communism would never take root in western Europe or the U.S.
David Horowitz refers to PC a kitsch Communism because it is just so ridiculous or unimanginable. At least Marx's view of a classless society is imaginable, but a raceless, sexless (in terms of sex differences) society is ridiculous. PC is a further degraded form of Communism and one can taunt un American types as Communist because they probably regard America as imperialistic in keeping with Lenin's work of imperialism being another wretched stage of Capitalism.
Part of the problem is that really aren’t any communists anymore. Except for their true kook fringe, the left has more or less given up on the whole collective ownership of the means of production thing. Enough history has happened that even they realize that their preferred system is a failure in terms of its ability to create wealth. If the world went socialist, a third of humanity would immediately die of starvation. Even the left can see this. So they’ve more or less ceded that function to people who can perform actually produce, and resigned themselves to being a modifying force rather than the primary force. Their role now is to redistribute and to regulate and to demonize and to moralize and to nanny people around and to do everything they can on the social front to make middle America feel threatened and uncomfortable. The particular forms that this tends to take are more amorphous and less neatly categorized than the writer suggests, and so her little list is pretty worthless. Socialism has become kind of like pornography in that it’s about impossible to define but you know it when you see it.
See, I was thinking the c word was 4 letters, Laz, when I started reading this little article.
Actually, ‘it’ must be somewhat large in this case, eh?
Please tell me you wouldn’t hit this. ;>
Hell yeah, I'd hit it.
My goodness -- since bratwurst is not a staple of the Deep South -- I first imagined burgers and shreiking 4yo's on the grill when I read that sentence.
I agree with much of what she says here.
I would love to have a discussion with her about my own designation for the political system that the current crop of “progressives” in America are espousing: One-World Fascism, or CommuFascist.
She would have to start over in her screed against me, since her comments 1,2, and 3 do not apply.
Whenever I watch the World Cup, I root for the Amphetamines.