A recent post at Paperwight’s Fair Shot reminded me that I’ve been noticing there are a lot of folks in Left Blogtopia who continue to be surprised upon discovering that conservative Republicans seem to define some words quite differently from the way we define them. After quoting Rod Dreher’s recent confession –
I had a heretical thought for a conservative – that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word – that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot – that they have to question authority.
– Paperwight has some difficulty trying to figure out just which conservative “philosophy” Rod’s brand would have fit into. He finally concludes:
The only form of conservatism that allows one to actually have that belief is authoritarianism, whether it’s royalist, theocratic, fascist, or otherwise dictatorial. Authoritarianism lets you just turn off your brain when your leaders speak, because your leaders can’t do bad things. And that in a nutshell is one of the central features of and problems with American conservatism.
Well…YES. And it has been since Nixon’s resident PR assassin, Roger Ailes, found that he could blunt criticism by simply changing the words Nixon used, particularly about Viet Nam. The invasion and bombing campaign in Cambodia became an incursion, cover-ups became protecting executive privilege, and an illegal domestic black bag operation ordered directly by Tricky Dick became a rogue operation Nixon didn’t know about because of something called plausible deniability.
But the capper was the concept of the imperial presidency – the so-called “unitary executive” – developed by Ailes and John Mitchell, who “interpreted” the Constitution by throwing out the separation of powers clause and assuming for the president the power to do anything. As the late Howard Hunt, boss of the Watergate break-in, put it:
“I had always assumed, working for the CIA for so many years, that anything the White House wanted done was the law of the land,” he told People magazine back in 1974.
Later on, the late, great Lee Atwater expanded Ailes’ original contribution by inventing “spin” and, more significantly, “reverse spin” – the art of convincing the press that a war-like statement was really about peace and a peaceful statement was really advocating war, that racism was merely a response to runaway affirmative action and affirmative action was really racist, and so on. The definitions Atwater came up with for his legendary reverse spin sessions were so attractive to radical conservatives that over the next quarter-century they first absorbed, then processed, then began to actually believe in the invented black-is-white, day-is-night definitions as if they were the real ones.
Of course, that explains only about half of the terms conservatives use. The rest come from deep disconnections inherent in conservative Republican dogma between what they wish were true and what actually is true. In fact, the essence of conservatism is, as Paperwight finally noticed, anti-democratic, authoritarian, demagogic, anti-Constitutional, and anti-American to an alarming degree. Which means that conservative Republicanism attracts demagogues, imperialists, monarchists, and would-be dictators like a dogpile attracts flies.
So I thought it might help if someone compiled a dictionary of Conservative RepublicanSpeak one could refer to if one was unsure how a Republican was defining a particular word or phrase s/he’d just used. Which is all a long-winded way of introducing (apologies to Ambrose Bierce) the first installment of:
The PubSpeak Dictionary: Translating Conservative-RepublicanSpeak into English
a*ris*to*crat (a-ris’-toe-crat): n. 1. Eastern establishment liberal, one who attended an Ivy League school but was ineligible for DKE or Skull’n’Bones 2. rich Democrats roughly equivalent in wealth to top Republican donors
free*dom (free’-dom) n. 1. unfettered capitalism, as in the freedom to make as much money as possible by any means necessary 2. authoritarianism, as in Americans should have the freedom to say anything they want as long as they don’t disagree with, contradict, challenge, criticize, or provoke Republicans, at which point they should either shut up or be stood against a wall and shot (see also, “free trade”, syn.)
lib*er*al (li’-brul) n. 1. An authoritarian, one who spends all his time telling other people what to do 2. A wimp, one without backbone who lets everybody push him around 3. A traitor, one who hates his own country and spends every waking hour working on ingenious ways to destroy it 4. A lazy, good-for-nothing Mama’s boy who sleeps in late, doesn’t have a job, sponges off his relatives, and doesn’t care a tinker’s damn about his country 5. A Communist 6. A Democrat 7. A Welfare Queen 8. A bum living on the street 9. A Democrat 10. Gay
lib*er*ty (lib’-er-tee) n. 1. unrestricted capitalism, free from government regulation or public interference in corporate affairs 2. unrestricted property rights, confined to the corporate and upper classes, as in the government is at liberty to seize the trailer park by eminent domain for my new supermarket but has no right to seize my supermarket by eminent domain to build a day-care center for commoners 3. obedience, as in Americans are at liberty to obey Republicans
pa*tri*ot (pay’-tree-ott) n. 1. anyone who donates to Republican candidates 2. Anyone who blindly obeys Republican leaders (includes Democrats – see Lieberman, Joe) 3. anyone who believes that war is the solution for every international problem faced by the US (be a patriot! nuke ’em!) 4. anyone who believes the US is justified in doing anything whatever (includes pre-emptive war, torture, Constitution-shredding, wrongful imprisonment, imprisonment without trial, imprisonment without the possibility of defense, “extraordinary rendition”, illegal search and seizure, or any other conceivable breach of the Bill of Rights) 5. anyone who believes the US Constitution is quaint, anachronistic, and/or irrelevant since 9/11 (see Gonzales, Alberto)
pa*tri*o*tis*m (pay’-tree-oh-tiz-em) n. 1. a belief that loving your country means believing that everything Republicans do is right 2. a belief that being rich is the same thing as loving your country, and vice versa 3. a belief that loving your country means blind obedience to Republican leaders 4. a belief that loving your country means donating vast sums of money to the Republican Party 5. waving the flag on Arbor Day while at the same time ignoring Labor Day and Martin Luther King Day as “inappropriate holidays” 6. what corporations show when they make a lot of money
pres*i*dent (prez’-nent) n. 1. CEO/Monarch of the US with the Absolute Powers of God-Anointed Royalty if he is a Republican, and no political or legal power whatsoever if he is a Democrat 2. The nominal head of a corporation, organization, or club if a Republican; a dangerous fanatic and dictator if a Democrat, no matter what he is president of, even if it’s just President of the Sunset Retirement Village Mah-Jong Club 3. The Decider if Republican, the Destroyer if a Democrat
re*spect (re-spekt’) n. 1. Unquestioning obedience to all Republican authority figures (“I had a heretical thought for a conservative – that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word – that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot – that they have to question authority.” – Rod Dreher) 2. A demand by a Republican for obedience from all non-Republicans 3. What non-Republicans demonstrate when they agree with Republicans (at least that lousy, no-good, traitorous Democrat showed me respect when he agreed with me)
To be cont’d
(Contributions from readers are welcomed in comments, though if they are added to the Lexicography they may be heavily edited/re-written and there will be NO appeal. Contributions will be credited, however, and links to home sites will be included if desired and provided.
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