Words the Right has turned against us

I was reading this piece about Multiculturalism and, since it seems I am in a particularly rant-y mood today, I started thinking of the many words the Right has taken away from our discourse and have either given them a very negative connotation or turned them into the political equivalent of insults; particularly how these words are currently used in mass media to signify something negative. Of course I am aware that this is not a new phenomenon, but sometimes it is interesting to think of these terms just to try and trace how this appropriation has been turned against us.

Some that come to mind:

  • feminism (the accusation, of course, being that “feminists are out to destroy men”)
  • multiculturalism (due to the Right’s claim of how its “failures” allowed for the loss of Western values)
  • abortion (I suspect this was always controversial, but in the past couple of years it has become a loud issue to further control women’s autonomies)
  • politically correct (if someone defends themselves claiming the “politically correct” want to take away their free speech, you know they are, in reality, defending their privilege to insult, hurt or say something offensive)
  • free speech (since when is the Right, particularly the most acerbic kind of Right, the champion of Free Speech? Well, it might seem they are the ones who care the most about it, given how much they claim their access to it is constantly under attack)
  • unions/ unionize(d) (How did we allow this to be used by the working classes against their own? How many working class talk about unions as if they were the worst that could happen to them? This has to be the biggest achievement of Corporate Culture as whole, to turn workers against their own interests)
  • equality (this one, in particular in regards to Equal Marriage and everything related to the rights of LGBTQ groups)

How did we let this happen? Seriously. How did we let this rhetorical change to take place, with words that were, traditionally, a bastion of the left or the progressives and allowed them to acquire so many negative connotations? How did we let these words be misappropriated and hurled around like insults against us?

  1. awkward-poo said: don’t forget “liberal/liberalism” and “socialist/socialism”, with regards to the US.
  2. ya-la-vida-continua reblogged this from mdsh
  3. mdsh reblogged this from redlightpolitics
  4. damekatharsis said: Have you ever read George Lakoff?
  5. pissingonmyfeet said: In the US, people of my age (54), were prograqmmed to be anti-union. In very subtle ways anti-union sentiment was fed to us, in elementary through high school texts and the media. This quiet propaganda through the years has worked quite well.
  6. nowisgreater said: I think politically correct has always been bad. It’s a very dismissive phrase, as if the only reason to want to not be an asshole is to appear “PC”.
  7. sequinedk said: I would also say “tolerance”. The Right always seems to scoff at “liberal tolerance” when we fail to tolerate them being racists/sexist/homophobic/generally hateful.
  8. someauthorgirl said: I submit “socialism,” though the right has been turning that word and that philosophy against the left for generations. Granted, there is a complicated history to socialism, but in 2011 it doesn’t mean what the right wants it to mean.