"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Newspeak, Republican Style

The right wing has been speaking in code for a while now, but it's become somewhat desperate lately. This article at The Hill is illuminating (via Hullabaloo).

Conservative Republicans are worried that political correctness is creeping into their party.

They point to the decision by a House committee to replace 50 state flags — including Mississippi’s, which is emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag — with 50 state coins from the U.S. mint.

Separately, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sidestepped the controversy this week raging over a North Carolina law barring transgender people from using bathrooms that do not match their born sex, saying he didn’t know enough about what he said was a state proposal.

And while conservative Republicans grumble that President Obama’s decision to pull Andrew Jackson off the front of the $20 bill is playing politics with currency, they feel there’s scant motivation in their ranks to stop him.

“Political correctness has crept into the Capitol,” said David Bozell, president of ForAmerica, a conservative advocacy group.

Brian Darling, a conservative Republican strategist, accused House GOP leaders of caving in to the PC police.

It occurred to me recently that "politically correct" has become code for "socially acceptable," with the added dimension of trying to make social acceptability a negative. (Remember, we are talking about figures who are past masters at flipping reality on its head.) The culture has moved on, as cultures tend to do, and the attitudes that conservatives hold and espouse -- prejudice in general, which is no more than a general fear and distaste of anything unfamiliar -- simply don't cut it any more with most Americans. Case in point: it's no longer acceptable to be openly racist, so we get code, also known as "dog whistles." I think a big part of Donald Trump's appeal is that he dispenses with the code and comes right out and says what his supporters are thinking -- he voices the right-wing id -- and slams "political correctness" whenever he can. That's also what make him repellent to most Americans.

Conservatives fear that squeamishness on social controversies is linked to what they see as a lack of full commitment to confront Democrats on major policy issues, such as defunding Planned Parenthood.

They are also making the case that if the GOP cannot fight President Obama and Democrats on those issues, it is no wonder they can’t take more basic steps in governance.

“If you can’t say that guys should be going to the bathroom in men’s rooms and women should have the privacy they’re entitled to, if you can’t make that case as a leader of the Republican Party, no wonder you can’t get a budget through,” Bozell said this week.

They just don't get it: their positions on social issues are non-starters at this point. In functional terms they seem to understand that -- they've lost on gay rights, including marriage, so now they've targeted trans people -- but they don't get the implications: if most people don't agree with you on marginalizing one group, maybe you should rethink your whole philosophy rather than just trying to marginalize another group. But then, if they moderate their stance on social issues, they have nothing left.

(Sidebar: I think the corporate wing of the Republican party found the social conservatives useful for several decades, as a distraction from their takeover of the government. Now, however, their extreme positions on social issues are eroding support for the party as a whole -- the bible-thumpers are not only an embarrassment, they've become a real threat to the party. And of course, anything that hints of pragmatism -- "softening" on marriage equality, letting people decide for themselves whether they are men or women -- is a no-go for the "Christian" extremists.)

So, whenever you hear a conservative railing about "political correctness," think about what they are actually advocating.

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