“Hitler gave good speeches, too.”
That’s what many Right-wingers say in disparaging the oratorical effectiveness of President Barack Obama.
It’s a slogan that’s misleading on two counts.
First, the people saying it are exactly the type who would have voted for Adolf Hitler. And who vote for his wannabe dictatorial successors such as Joseph McCarthy, Newt Gingrich and Ted Cruz.
Second, the slogan dismisses the power of language–as though words are entirely divorced from action. On the contrary: Words–effectively used–can and usually do lead to action.
A classic example: During the desperate months of the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz, Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s soaring rhetoric armed his fellow Englishmen with the will to resist Nazi aggression.
The truth is, words matter. For good and ill.
Republicans, for example, have long used the power of language to gain and hold power.
Take their use of the phrase, “the death tax.”
The correct term used to be “the estate tax.” And it applied to a relatively small number of citizens who die leaving large estates.
But Republicans, struggling to make the world a better place for the ultra-rich, convinced millions of ignorant voters who don’t have estates that the tax applies to them.
The result: A Republican-introduced bill to the House of Representatives–”The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013.”
Its goal: “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes, and for other purposes.”
In short: Relieve the ultra-rich from the unfair burden of paying taxes.
So far, the bill has not been passed.
Or take the 2001 “USA Patriot Act,” which did pass by overwhelming margins after 9/11.
Republicans crammed this full of Orwellian changes they knew Democrats wouldn’t like–such as vastly expanding the powers of the National Security Agency to collect files on American citizens.
So how did they get Democrats to support it?
By calling it the “Patriot Act.” By choosing this title, Republicans easily put Democrats on the defensive.
Anyone who dared oppose the bill would be attacked: “Why don’t you support the Patriot Act? Are you unpatriotic?”
The Left has also made use of language to obtain its political objectives.
Consider the highly popular and Politically Correct term, “People of color.”
This is used by blacks, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians when referring to members of their own particular ethnic group.
On the other hand, members of these groups become enraged if they’re referred to as “colored people.”
But what’s the difference? It’s like saying “jeans of blue” instead of “blue jeans.”
And, in either case, it totally hides what they really mean: “Nonwhites.”
Because to the Politically Correct crowd, “white” is not a color. Which is another way of saying, “Whites aren’t really part of the population.”
And here’s another Leftist-language achievement: “The Dream Act.”
This is a phrase conjured up by those who essentially want to remove all barriers to illegal immigration–at least as it applies to those mostly in Mexico and other Latin and Central American countries.
Its effectiveness lies in the magical word “dream.” As in the Walt Disney Cinderella song: “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”
Thus, the United States now has millions of illegal aliens (the Left prefers to call them “immigrants,” which sounds nicer) who claim to cherish their Mexican heritage and love their native land.
But if they cherish Mexico so much, why have so many of these “Dreamers” fled this “paradise”?
And why is their “dream” to never live in Mexico again?
A final word: At election time, the TV airways are clogged with ads supposedly sponsored by “Citnzens for….”
As in: “Citizens for a Responsible Energy Policy.”
The only “citizens” who can afford to blitz the airways with millions oof dollars’ worth of propaganda are “citizens” who own wealthy corporations.
And when you read/hear words like “responsible,” watch out: Who is defining what as responsible?
When greed-based companies are the ones defining responsible, it means: Whatever creates greater profits for them.
You know, like gutting environmental protection laws and allowing behemoth corporations to pay no taxes.
So keep that in mind the next time you see a slick ad that claims your fellow “citizens” seek your support on an important issue.