COUP WATCH: The New Jargon -- From Red Rock Eater News Service
By Phil Agre
Tue Dec 12 15:43:35 2000
You can learn a lot on the Internet. Just yesterday, for example, I
learned that Gore voters associate with criminals, that Gore himself
is gay, and that if Bush becomes president then a group of liberal
financiers is planning to crash the stock market. There it was, in
one place: The Conservatives' Greatest Hits.
And those were the polite ones. We have a serious problem in this
country, regardless of who becomes president -- a cult that conducts
its political life in an aggressive and antirational jargon. On
many occasions here I have dissected the workings of this jargon,
but now I want to focus on the cultivated use of jargon for purposes
of emotionally abusing people.
My long message about the hate mail
that I've received since I started covering the election controversy
brought quite a bit of testimony on the matter from people who are
distressed at the name-calling, disregard for reality, and all-around
dehumanizing scorn that they suffer from the members of this cult.
Many of these folks reported feeling all alone with this abuse, and
they spoke poignantly about being trapped in overwhelming conservative
parts of the country where the cult and its jargon dominate public
discussion to the exclusion of everything else.
Most of these people didn't even think of themselves as liberals --
at least not until they learned, for example, that Al Gore didn't
claim to have invented the Internet, wasn't lying when he described
his childhood farm chores, didn't grow up in a luxury hotel, didn't
falsely claim to have been the model for Love Story, didn't hold
a fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple, didn't propose abolishing the
automobile, didn't propose to outlaw guns, and so on. They had been
genuinely shocked to discover that the cult members had been lying
about these things, and they were even more shocked to discover that
they and everyone around them had been living in a media bubble whose
ranting and raving had shut off the oxygen from even these very simple
truths. Some of them described the paralyzing despair that they
experienced during the post-election controversy when they found
themselves surrounded by angry and irrational people who display no
respect for logic.
It is important to be clear about some things. Not all conservatives
participate in this cult or speak its jargon, and not all speakers of
the jargon engage in personal abuse. I have received many messages
from rational people who treat me like a human being even as they
express conservative disagreement with my views. I have also
received many messages that labor to twist the facts of the election
controversy, as if they were taking the opportunity to sharpen their
sophistical skills on a real live college professor, without being
especially rude about it. And I have received some messages of
crude name-calling and insults that required no particular skill or
cultivation and could simply be the product of a deranged mind or a
bad day. Those are not the people that I am talking about, or that my
correspondents were talking about. After all, I've expressed myself
strongly on some controversial political issues, and it stands to
reason that someone somewhere is going to get mad.
No -- I am talking here about people who are emotionally abusive, and
who have obviously invested effort in learning a whole technology of
emotional abuse that they are deploying in a systematic way for (what
they regard as) political purposes. I am talking about people who
express themselves in snide, sarcastic, scornful tones, who express
themselves in innuendoes, who invest incredible effort in provoking
an intemperate response so that they can portray themselves as victims,
and who engage in complicatedly indirect forms of rhetoric that deniably
presuppose things that are false.
Let us consider a few examples of the phenomena I am talking about.
This message was in response to my essay on the hate mail I've been
so, let's see. If we disagree with your spin and erroneous
conclusions, we are sending "hate mail"? my god, what hypocracy,
what insular thinking (and frnakly, I worry about using that last
My problem with a passage like this, I repeat, is not exactly that
it is nasty, but that it is nasty in a stereotyped and cultivated way.
It is part of a technology of nastiness. Let's consider how it works.
Start with the first sentence. In the jargon, expressions like "let
me see if I've got this straight" are used to preface a distorted
paraphrase of an opponent's words. This is a matter of routine; it's
part of what a linguist would call the "phasal lexicon" of the new
In fact, "so, let's see" does two kinds of work: it prefaces
a distortion of what I said, and it pretends that the distortion
is what I said. It twists reason, and projects that twisting onto
me. I, of course, never said that everyone who disagrees with me is
sending hate mail. Never said it, never meant it, never implied it,
never presupposed it, never thought it.
And this is not just any distortion. It's a type that is also very
common in the new jargon: someone sends me hate mail that expresses
disagreement with my views, and so rather than acknowledge the hateful
elements of that mail, my correspondent here pretends that I have
associated all disagreement with hate. Underneath, in other words,
it's a matter of associationism.
Associationism deletes all of
logical connections among ideas, and instead works to create certain
strategically chosen associations among concepts, and to break others.
The first step, very often, is to project the very fact of engaging
in associationism into one's opponent: by writing about messages of
disagreement that were hateful, it is said, "they" are the ones who
associated disagreement with hate.
Notice, too, the rhetorical question ("If we disagree with your spin
and erroneous conclusions, we are sending 'hate mail'?"). This is
also common. It's a way of making an obviously false assertion -- in
this case, the assertion that I have said that everyone who disagrees
with me has ispo facto sent hate mail -- without admitting to it.
Then the "my god", etc, which assumes an answer to the rhetorical
question, as if the rhetorical question's proffered paraphrase were
something that I said. Then, of course, the flood of nasty language.
The same writer continues as follows:
Yep, you must really enjoy democracy if you feel that Al's team
is absolutely with clean hands while W is totally wrong.
Having worked himself into a state of righteous indignation, he starts
in with the sarcasm: "yep". Then another characteristic pattern of
the new jargon: reframing issues in terms of straw-man extremes. He
ascribes to me a view that is framed in terms of absolutes. Notice
how the straw man is amplified even further through imbalance: it's
Al's *team* versus W (alone). Notice, too, how this view is not quite
ascribed to me in a straightforward way; he doesn't say "You believe
that Al's team is absolutely clean and W is totally wrong". Rather,
he puts this proposition, for which he has presented no evidence,
into an "if", thus sheltering it from the rational examination that
it would invite if he had squarely asserted it.
This is part of
what I mean when I say that the jargon is subrational: it continually
places its assertions out of the reach of rational inquiry, either
as innuendoes, or rhetorical questions, or presuppositions, or beneath
ambiguities that also admit trivial interpretations. I'm not saying
that this is a conscious strategy; rather, it is a property of a way
of speaking that one cultivates in the same way that one acquires
any way of speaking -- by listening to the radio, reading pundits,
rehearsing lines with other members of the cult, and so on.
He continues as follows:
Phil, this diatribe can only be the result of lack of sleep, or
some other medical condition. Why are you so logical, informative
and interesting on non-political topics, but rant uncontrollably,
name calling, ignoring facts, hypocracy and worse when your man
is losing the election, despite Bill Daley's best efforts to the
Lack of sleep is a medical condition? Blah blah blah -- more broad
accusations without evidence. Never mind that I have been offering
pretty much the same analysis of the decline of public reason in the
United States for a long time, regardless of who has been ahead in the
Then note the reference to Bill Daley. It is a recurring theme of
the current party line that Bill Daley's father engaged in political
corruption in Chicago, and that somehow Bill Daley is doing the same
thing. What's noteworthy here is that this slander has been repeated
so often in the press that it is now a rhetorical commonplace --
something that can be indexed, alluded to, simply by mentioning Bill
Daley's name in an appropriate context.
This too is part of a broad
pattern in the workings of the jargon. The jargon is not something
static; it is very much a process, and through this process the cult
members work hard at extending the underlying principles to every
topic, every word, every remaining holdout of rational thought. One
method by which they do this is, as analysts of propaganda have always
said, repetition. But the word "repetition" does not fully capture
it -- it's too static a concept. The point of repetition is not just
to say the same thing over and over, but to say the same thing in
fewer and fewer words, making it more and more of a commonplace, so
that it can be alluded to in ever briefer and more indirect ways, so
that the very mention of Bill Daley's name can become a shorthand code
for corruption, and deniably so, even though Bill Daley has never even
been accused of doing anything wrong beyond choosing the wrong father.
This is NOT hate mail. I don't know you from Adam. I don't HATE
your silly conclusions -- the beauty of this country is that we
are entitled to hav differences of opinion. But your willingness
to ignore facts, well, that is scary.
Observe how my author, who is manifestly engaged in writing hate mail,
sets about redefining the term "hate mail" so as to disassociate it
from himself. In order to write hate mail, by his definition, he must
know me as an individual well enough to have a particularized hatred
of me. But this is not what "hate mail" means. A letter of anti-
Semitic diatribes mailed at random to someone named "Blumenthal" who
is picked from the phone book would be hate mail. (And this happens.)
But now this guy has taken the phrase "hate mail" and twisted it.
Note how this works: if I wanted to make claims about what the phrase
"hate mail" really means, there is no authority to which I could turn
-- no dictionary, no official body of scholars. That's part of how he
can get away with it, and it's also one of the ways in which this kind
of rant induces feelings of helplessness in the people upon whom it is
inflicted. It's destructive: in twisting words, this guy is twisting
something that is common property, degrading part of the collectively
inherited culture. The element of language that he is wrecking lives
nowhere else except in the shared culture.
Then, this thing about "ignoring facts". You've read his whole message
-- he does not present a single fact that I have supposedly ignored.
The phrase "ignoring facts" is part of the rhetoric of public relations.
Facts (which in practice need not be factual, but never mind about
that for now) are what you use to create an association between two
concepts, or else to break an association that you do not like. Thus,
for example, he attributes to me an association between Gore's team
and clean hands, and between Bush and total wrongness. The "ignored
facts" that he has in mind surely take the form of unclean things
that Gore or his team have done, or right things that Bush has said.
The cult of jargon is not indifferent to facts; quite the contrary it
invests tremendous effort in building and circulating them, exactly so
that they will be ready when a mental association needs to be built or
broken. To the associationistic way of thinking, one single fact is
enough to prove an argument, exactly because all of the positions have
been reframed in extreme ways. Thus, for example, if I demonstrate
that the Bush campaign has been engaged in a campaign of fabrications
against Gore, to the associationistic mind it suffices to refute my
argument if one can produce a single example, just one, of Bush saying
something that's right or Gore saying something that's wrong. Never
mind that one could use the same logic to "prove" exactly the reverse
set of associations.
Finally this, in response to my discussion of the Republican riot in
the Miami government building:
By the way, I viewed all the video you cited, as well as other
sources. Check out some of the FLA based news sources. Methinks
you will agree that your initial description was inaccurate, shall
More snideness, more lack of evidence. To be honest, despite his
confident prediction, I haven't the faintest idea what he is talking
about. The video I cited, which is only a few seconds long and
shows only a small portion of the events in question, shows running,
screaming protesters knocking down a cameraman and pounding their
fists against windows and furniture. The Florida based news sources
that I cited in abundance on my list describe a great deal of other
mayhem organized by the same parties.
But I want particularly to
remark on the word "inaccurate". This is another term of art in
the public-relations vocabulary of the jargon. In the jargon usage,
"inaccurate" does not mean "false". Rather, PR distinguishes between
"messages" and "facts". "Messages" are strategically vague, and
someone else's "message" is ispo facto "inaccurate" if it conflicts
with your own. Of course, you can't tell from this guy's e-mail
that he meant "inaccurate" in that sense; it is simply that he is
consistently using a lexicon and a mode of reasoning that derives
from public relations, and "inaccurate" is part of that. The lexicon
is like a toolkit, and every word in the toolkit has a function in the
rhetorical technology of the jargon.
Let us consider another message that I was fortunate to receive in the
course of the current controversy:
Subject: Those 13 "myths"
As the subject line indicates, this message was apparently sent in
response to Rich Cowan's "13 myths" article presenting the facts that
conflict with both the Gore and Bush camps' mythologies in the early
days of the Florida election conflict. I have no idea who the writer
is, or even his gender, but I'll say "he" because almost all of my
hate mail on political topics comes from men. I'm not even clear why
this guy sent his message to me; I didn't write the "13 myths" piece,
which is clearly credited to Rich. I did forward that piece to my
list, and a couple of URL's to my Web site appear at the bottom of
You are REALLY desperate if you think the American public are stupid
enough not to see through this deliberately misinformative "spin".
You are still feverishly campaigning for Gore and the Democratic
Party at the expense of truth and justice. Get over it, the time for
campaigning is done! Oh, and Leave the exaggerations to Gore himself
please, he's at least funnier with them. You assume too much when
you assume we don't know and understand the undoctored, unspun facts.
I'm sure you understand that to assume makes and ASS out of U and
ME, to which I say make an ASS of Uself as much as you please, but
leave ME out of it!
The point is, this guy sent a message filled with harsh
and abusive verbiage out of a clear blue sky to a complete stranger
who didn't even write the article that he is ranting about. This
kind of random abuse is not uncommon, and it is certainly part of the
political strategy of the jargon, much of whose purpose is to make
sane people feel so traumatized that they will keep their mouths shut.
Now, as to the substance of the message. Let's start with the word
"desperate". This word derived from the party line of that particular
week (I got the message on November 30th). Followers of Gore (which
he imagines me to be, despite the criticism of Gore in the "13 myths"
piece) were held during that week to exhibit "desperation" in pretty
much everything they did, and this word was applied to me in at least
two dozen messages. When the party line moved along to other words,
so did the messages.
Yet in that week, the word "desperate" had been
repeated so many times, through so many of the literally hundreds of
pundits who speak and write the jargon in the national and regional
media, that everyone was familiar with it. It was a commonplace,
a topos, but a bad sort of topos, one that achieved its effect not
through its novelty, freshness, precision, or aptness but precisely
through its bluntness, by bludgeoning. Everyone who was attacked with
the word "desperate" during that week was made to feel the combined
blows of a million abusive cultists, all simultaneously dehumanizing
their opponents as if they were a single assailant.
The word "spin" is used in the same way -- not as the flavor of
the week in this case, but as a trope, that was floated during the
impeachment controversy, and that the practitioners of the jargon
have worked to attach to their opponents at every opportunity ever
since. (Another example, less obvious, is the word "attack", which
some "journalists" associate with Al Gore's name every chance they
get, regardless of whether he has said anything that deserves such
a strong word.)
The message goes on to attribute a mental state to me; I am held to
have engaged in "deliberately misinformative 'spin'", and to regard
the American public as stupid enough to believe my conscious lying.
This, too, is very common. In order to dehumanize their opponents,
it is not enough for cultists to refute their opponents' arguments;
rather, the liberals, like Satan himself, must be made out as liars.
This is the deep meaning of the false accusations that Gore is a liar.
If you persuade yourself that your opponent is a liar -- that his
whole being is in its very essence a lie -- then you no longer feel
any responsibility to take what he says seriously or accountability
to the reason in his words. And so my assailant does not accuse me
of being mistaken, or stupid, or a dupe, or careless. I am not even
accused of deceiving myself. No, I am accused of deliberately and
consciously lying. About what, you might ask? He never tells me
-- having crafted my lies deliberately, he imagines, I already know.
The idea that putative liberals regard the American public as stupid
is itself a common conceit of the new jargon. It is something that
Rush Limbaugh says constantly.
Next, I am told, I am "still feverishly campaigning for Gore and
the Democratic Party at the expense of truth and justice". Observe
the use of the abstract words "truth" and "justice". Here we have
more associationism. The new jargon breaks all thought into atomic
elements like these and then arranges them with vague associations
and strong emotions. So I am not simply telling particular lies --
I am engaged in a generalized war on truth and justice.
By now you
have probably long forgotten what I actually said that brought us to
these primitive sentiments, but that doesn't matter. The end-point
of a rant in the new jargon is always the primal scene of the Satanic
liberal engaged in an apocalyptic attack on the broadest, vaguest,
most emotionally charged symbols in the world, in this case truth
and justice. The logic that connects anything that I actually said
to this primitive scene is completely beside the point. As a moral
matter it is certainly relevant whether the accusation is true; there
does exist such a thing as engaging in a way or truth and justice, and
in fact I think that my assailant is doing just that. The point is
that he has assailed me in such terms on no rational grounds, and to
the extent that his argument has any defeasible sense it is not true.
We are truly staring in the face of madness here, and in a healthy
world nobody would even read such things without having an appropriate
mental health specialist on call. Note, too, that it is not just my
own evil self who is set against truth and justice, but Gore and the
Democrats: the situation is constructed such that advocacy for Gore
and the Democrats (which, you will recall, is not what the "13 myths"
piece was) is ipso facto the opposite of truth and justice. That is
the emotional structure of the rant.
Next comes the phrase "Get over it". This is part of the rhetoric by
which one sneers at people for being "victims". Of course, the jargon
recognizes all sorts of legitimate victims: people who are victims of
liberals. Victims of conservatives, however, are harshly instructed
to quit crying and get over it. (I've been accused of "crying" many
times in the last month. I feel sorry for these people; I can only
imagine what their childhoods were like.) In this case, the theme is
not elaborated. "Get over it" has itself been repeated often enough
that it is a taken-for-granted element of the rhetorical background.
Nobody needs to explain any more how disgusting it is to pose as a
"victim"; an aggressor need only invoke a little phrase like this one,
and all of the scornful lectures of the past will come flooding back.
Next I am instructed in sarcastic tones to "leave the exaggerations to
Gore himself" -- "Gore's exaggerations" having been one of the central
messages of the Bush campaign. I have already discussed in detail the
disturbed nature of this campaign, in which Gore was falsely accused
on many occasions of being a liar. This particular version of the
story simply invokes Gore's supposed exaggerations as a commonplace,
and heaps on some extra ridicule. But I do think it's worth a moment
to focus on the last sentence:
You assume too much when you assume we don't know and understand the
undoctored, unspun facts.
The "13 myths" piece, as you may recall, listed various myths that
had been put about by both campaigns, and responded to them each with
abundantly documented facts. Now, some people responded to that piece
by arguing at great and twisted length that these facts were partial
or incomplete or did not establish what Rich was supposely trying
to establish by them.
But this guy doesn't go into any of that; that
I am a liar is too obvious to need proof, in his view. Instead, he
sneers at me that I falsely assume that "we" (who?) don't know "the
undoctored, unspun facts". This is a fancy thing to say. The "Gore's
exaggerations" campaign was a tidal wave of non-facts, which is to
say actual, real lies -- Things That Were Not True. And the facts in
the "13 myths" piece were, as I say, both abundantly documented and
not even contested.
The situation, in short, is precisely the reverse
of what my assailant alleges them to be. Yet he is ranting at me
about "the undoctored, unspun facts". This phrase must be significant.
What are "doctored" facts? What are "spun" facts? As so often in
the jargon, each of these two phrases is ambiguous. They could mean
that my "facts" are factually false, that is, that they are not facts.
Or it could mean that the world contains two categories of facts:
those that are doctored or spun, and those that are not. In other
words, the possibility is held open here that the facts adduced in the
"13 myths" piece really are facts, but that they are nonetheless, in
some sense, not legitimate, not real, not part of the correct factual
world. It is hard to know.
And to be honest it is not worth investigating. The reality is
that this gentleman is doing what he is falsely accusing me of doing,
and doing it at the top of his lungs, and is assisted in doing it
by a rhetorical technology that makes it easy to lie and to falsely
accuse others of lying, without ever saying anything that risks being
subjected to rational investigation.
For the sake of completeness, my correspondent riffs on the "assume"
theme using a commonplace of vulgar abuse. This last bit is noteworthy,
if only slightly, by his instruction that I "leave [him] out of it!".
In what way have I included him in it? I have never sent him anything.
Notice, once again, the projection: he is the one who sent unsolicited
junk to me.
Let us consider one final message. This one was evidently in response
to my discussion of the quotation-out-of-context of Paul Begala by a
series of widely-published jargon-slingers. You will recall that a
conservative pundit had asserted that the Bush-voting states in the
south and middle of the country represented "family values" where the
Gore-voting states in the northeast and west represented "entitlement".
Begala responded to this ugly regional stereotyping by explaining that
the situation was more complicated, that every region had good and
bad, and that various bad things had also occured in the southern and
The point of Begala's comments was plainly to explode
stereotypes, and he was polite about it, praising the conservative
pundit in question despite his calumny. A series of pundits then took
Begala's words out of context to suggest that *he* had stereotyped
the *Bush-supporting* states, as opposed to offering a balanced view
in response to stereotyping of the Gore-supporting states. This tactic
was the purest projection, and especially so given that Begala's mis-
quoted words were widely put about as reasons why conservatives must
act like the vicious animals that the Democrats had supposedly shown
themselves to be. In response to this explanation, someone who I know
nothing about (and who is not on my mailing list) responded as follows:
Are you serious? You suggest that characterizing one region of the
county as believing in entitlements and another region being murders
and racists as having equal weight. Get real. The only thing
viscious about an entitlement, is that it takes away from producers
without their consent and gives to non-producers.
By now you are familiar with this tone of scornful irrationality,
which pervades American political culture like a 60-cycle hum.
People can address their fellow citizens in this way with impunity,
with no fear of criticism, but only so long as they are conservatives.
Liberals do engage in their own trash-talk, of course, but it is
conservatives who can carry on in this harshly abusive tone of voice
without anyone calling them on it.
Also, I think it hilarious that a Lib is crying about Republicans
falsely acusing Democrats of wrong doing to cover their equal sin.
Bill Clinton invented the tatic, (with apologies to Stalin).
Now, it would be one thing if we had simply learned to screen out a
bad attitude. "Oh, you know, they're like that. Just ignore them."
But it's worse than that. In ignoring the awful tone of voice, we
also ignore the howling unreason that boils below it, and that gets
insidiously into our minds through repeated pelting with it. So it's
important that we slow the rhetoric down so that the irrationality
becomes visible for what it is.
He says this:
You suggest that characterizing one region of the county as
believing in entitlements and another region being murders
and racists as having equal weight. Get real. The only thing
viscious about an entitlement, is that it takes away from producers
without their consent and gives to non-producers.
Never mind the guy's bad grammar, or the bad spelling in the other
messages. That's not the important thing; besides, my own messages
to this list often have bits of bad grammar as a result of hurried
editing. What's important is the poor logic of the accusation.
Let's start with the second part. To paraphrase the tone of the
accusation that the pundits had issued against Begala, I had used
the word "vicious" to describe the original stereotyping of liberal
states in terms of "entitlement". But this guy addresses a different
question, whether an attitude of entitlement, or more precisely its
implementation in government policy, is itself vicious -- switching
the issue, in other words, from the viciousness of the stereotypers
to the putative viciousness of the people who were being stereotyped.
That particular bit of bad logic, however, is probably just sloppy.
Despite the slickness of the change of topic, I'm not sure that this
particular bit of sophistry is characteristic of the new jargon in
general. At least I'm not aware of it being a pattern.
The sophistry of the first part, however, is a different story. I am
accused of having equated morally unequal stereotypes, that of Begala
and that of the pundit to whom Begala was responding. The accusation
only makes sense if did in fact Begala characterize an entire region
of the country as being murderers and racists. But (1) Begala did not
do that, and (2) my whole point was that Begala did not do that, so
that logically I could not be suggesting anything that presupposes it.
The illogic here was so severe that I couldn't help inquiring: but
Begala did not say that, I said. That was something that was imposed
on him through quotation out of context. He responded as follows:
Paul Begala (excuse the spelling) wasn't trying to make a clever
and cerebral comment. I truly believe that this is the way the man
thinks. Furthermore, painting people in certain states or regions
as racists and bigots is exactly what he wants to do, because he
knows it is devisive. That's the way his ilk work. Divide people,
by lying and scaring them. Then use them.
The argument is no longer that Begala stereotyped people, but rather
that he harbored a hidden intention of stereotyping them, that being
the sort of person he is. The method here is obviously similar to the
previous writer's accusation that I was consciously lying, except that
it goes a step further: this guy *knows* what Begala had in mind, even
though it was the opposite of what he both said and did. Begala had
explicitly denounced regional stereotypes; that was his whole point.
But this guy just knows the opposite. He went on to claim that he had
not encountered Begala's words through the filtering of the pundits,
but had seen their original complete context on MSNBC, and that he
had come up with his interpretation independently. I don't doubt this.
Part of an apprenticeship in the jargon is learning how to interpret
everything you hear and read in terms of projections about the evil
intent of the people involved.
Although it's probably too obvious to even deserve mention, I'll
mention anyway the projection involved in stereotyping "his ilk" in
this ugly fashion, precisely by accusing them of stereotyping -- but
not just any stereotyping, but by accusing others of stereotyping.
Are you following me? Paul Begala denounces stereotyping, but what
he is actually doing (my assailant tells me) is stereotyping people
as people who engage in stereotyping. The author is engaged in
projection, which involves falsely accusing your opponent of doing
what you're doing, except in this case the projection is two-deep:
he's stereotyping Begala's ilk as a people who stereotype people as
engaging in stereotyping.
That probably went by a little too fast,
so I'll slow it down: Begala did indeed accuse the pundit in question
(Mike Barnicle) of having stereotyped whole regions of the country,
but the accusation was a true one. Barnicle did in fact issue such
a stereotype. Except now Begala is falsely accused of stereotyping
people as stereotyping. By this double-reverse wrist action, my
correspondent has been able to duck the whole question of whether
Begala's accusation was true, and instead to attribute to him a
generalized practice of accusing people of being racists and bigots.
He says that Begala's method works "by lying and scaring [people]" --
even though what Begala said was true! Pretty fancy, I have to say.
Now, of course this guy didn't invent any of what he's doing. He
probably doesn't even understand it very well. The point is, there's
no way that he could have produced this incredibly sophisticated
paragraph without having worked really hard to cultivate a jargon that
would trash the reason of any sane person.
His final comment is a lower-grade version of the basic technique:
Also, I think it hilarious that a Lib is crying about Republicans it
falsely acusing Democrats of wrong doing to cover their equal sin.
Bill Clinton invented the tatic, (with apologies to Stalin).
Speakers of the jargon very often describe themselves as laughing
at their opponents, or more twistedly they accuse their opponents of
lacking the capacity to laugh at themselves. Here what he's laughing
about is another double-reverse version of the projection tactic:
I, a supposed liberal, am "crying" (that word again) about Republican
projection, Bill Clinton having really been the one who invented it.
(Um, except that maybe Stalin did, or maybe he didn't, or something
-- the point simply being to associate Clinton with Stalin somehow.)
Accusing Bill Clinton of having started it is of course a staple of
the jargon; it's a variety of projection that requires no real proof,
such is the infinite evil of the Great Liar, that infinite sink for
all possible projection. (For example, Clinton is often accused of
having invented the "permanent campaign", even though the guy who
wrote the book of that title did so in 1980.)
The fact is, of course,
that neither Clinton nor the cult invented the general technique of
projection, which is found anywhere and everywhere in human history
that people engage in aggression despite a culture that claims to
disapprove of it. So I'm not just talking about doubletalk, or
unfairness, or false accusations, or bias, or lack of objectivity, or
propaganda as general matters. What the modern cult of the American
far right did invent was this specific jargon, this specific way of
emotionally assaulting people with the aim of crushing their reason
and one's own. And it is this jargon that I am trying to flush out
into the open.
Now, it may seem like absurd overkill to expend all of this time and
intellectual precision analyzing the rantings of people that most
of us probably have no respect for anyway. Aren't I swatting flies
with cannons here? I'm really not. I'm not writing this message
simply because someone said something mean to me and made me feel
bad. I'm writing this message, simply put, because the jargon I have
been describing is everywhere.
If I'm hallucinating, if other people
have not been suffering from the assaults of this deranged cult, then
my effort is wasted -- nobody will have any idea what I am talking
about. But if others have had the same experience, and I believe
that millions upon millions of normal Americans have this sort of
experience on a regular basis, then my goal is to provide names for
things that have heretofore been largely nameless.
I do not want this
jargon to succeed, and it can only succeed by taking over people's
minds. Everyone's mind has its breaking point, and there is no shame
in succumbing to the waves of vitriolic nonsense. And there is hope
for those who have succumbed, if any humanity remains in them. But
hope grows dim with time, and as the madness takes over more and more
of our public discourse. When I read the newspaper today, I see dead
people. I see vampires feeding on my country. I have no power to
make them stop. What I can do, however, is to shine a light on them,
and that's what I'm trying to do here.