CNN contributor John Blake is worried and I’m happy. You see, next year’s elections are coming up and polling does not portend the Brave New Democratic World coming through in a landslide. This in itself is a good sign. But Blake’s column attempting to explain why is useful in showing exactly what the Democrats’ communication strategy is and how Republicans can beat them.
For Blake, bad and mediocre polling numbers can’t mean that Americans are reacting to the Democrats’ gross politicization of our justice system, the economic damage coming from “Bidenomics,” their promotion of bodily mutilation under the rubric of “gender affirmation,” or racialized politics.
No, the danger Blake sees is that Republicans are experts at “verbal jiu-jitsu.” Instead of taking the Democrats’ arguments head-on, Blake claims, they use “a form of linguistic combat in which the practitioner takes a political phrase or concept popularized by their opponent and gradually turns [it] into an unusable slur.” According to Blake, “diversity,” “woke,” “Critical Race Theory,” even “liberal” were all simply good terms that were winners for Democrats but were somehow turned negative by crafty Republican masters of spin.
Given the regime media trick of turning any story of Democratic blunders into a story about how those evil Republicans “pounced” or “seized” on them, it was unsurprising that many wags noted that this piece was merely a case of “Republicans Pounce on Words!”
And indeed that’s what it is. Given that Republicans don’t control the major media, entertainment, or academic worlds, one might wonder how they have such power over the public. Blake quotes various lefty academics talking about the conservative world’s “think tanks” with their “linguists” and “focus groups” who can figure out what terms “resonate” with the public. Then, through the power of their greater “discipline,” Republicans simply keep repeating negative meanings for these terms until a willing public goes along with their views of them.
Blake follows the well-worn path of explaining all these terms benignly (often using dictionary meanings or older usages), asking how one could object to them in that format, and then asserting that the negative meanings were added on by Republicans.
“Woke,” for instance, was simply a term in the black community meaning to be “actively aware of social injustice.” Who doesn’t want to be aware of injustice? Blake says “it has been transformed into a contemporary scourge, one that a politician compared to a ‘virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.’”
“Equity,” Blake insists, simply means “being fair or impartial,” but Republicans have turned it into a word that means “a mandate to discriminate.”
Blake gives many other examples and consistently follows the same dishonest procedure. He never acknowledges that Democrats are not using any societally agreed-upon understandings of what social injustice is or basic fairness or impartiality. Instead, they are using very ideologically narrowed views.
Wokeness, as the student of today’s progressive discourse James Lindsay says, is being aware of social injustice as defined by the various forms of Critical Theory. It is to have an “awakened consciousness…set particularly with regard to issues of identity, like race, sex, gender, sexuality, and others.” The woke person has “been awakened (or ‘woke up’) to an awareness of the allegedly systematic nature of racism, sexism, and other oppressive power dynamics and the true nature of privilege, domination, and marginalization in society and understanding the role in dominant discourses in producing and maintaining these structural forces.”
In other words, it’s not just about being aware that a police officer might be racist. It’s about internalizing the entire leftist worldview of our society as being intrinsically tilted toward whites, males, heterosexuals—and tilted against all others. It’s about constant social activism against the perceived enemies who are found everywhere.
Equity, our other example, has to be understood in the same way. It’s not simply being “impartial” or “fair” to individuals. It’s not equal treatment under the law. As University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds likes to say, the left uses “equity” because it sounds like “equality” but means something completely different. Equity means the advancement of those groups against whom society is tilted until they are equal or, perhaps, even superior in order to atone for past injustices. And if there are disparities in outcomes, it does indeed mean “a mandate to discriminate” against individuals in order to procure the right group outcomes.
The left’s failure to establish a new lasting political coalition doesn’t have to do with Republican wordsmithing or jiu-jitsu. What it has to do with is the fact that despite the left still having control over the vast majority of communications and educational institutions, the internet—even with its censors and would-be censors at major social media sites—has made it possible for ordinary people to figure out what they mean by their terms and whether their claims are true.
When Blake retails the idea that Critical Race Theory is an “obscure academic theory,” ordinary Americans can find out through Christopher Rufo’s reports, laden with leaked materials from honest Americans, and Chaya Raichik’s Libs of Tik Tok feed on X (Twitter) that it may be a theory, but there is nothing obscure about the way it is applied at all levels of education, government, and corporate management.
The same goes with all the other terms. The left’s problem isn’t a slick, disciplined Republican public relations machine and institutional superiority that allows it to change the meaning of words. The left has all that. What they don’t have any longer is the ability to conceal what they really mean by the words to which they officially attach such simple meanings. Both their new, boutique terms and the old, traditional, truly good terms like “fairness” and “justice” and “democracy” are presented in public in one way, while in private they are used as code for leftist power.
I’m sure I’ll be accused of cultural appropriation, but the easiest way to explain what’s really happening is to say that the right has become more adept at helping Americans get “woke” to the radical and destructive ideology that brings injustice with it under the guise of words that sound like one thing and mean something radically different.
David P. Deavel teaches at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. Follow him on X (the site formerly known as Twitter) @davidpdeavel.
Read full article here