Our War of Words – Hint: We’re Losing

One of the major fronts on the war between progressives – who want to tear down and reshape America – against those of us who believe that America should be closer to what our Founding Fathers had in mind – can be defined as a War on Words. 

Sadly, this war is very real – and even more sadly, so far, we are losing that war.  Much of the progressives’ ability to succeed in forcing all of society to bow to their whims is that they have an almost unique ability to change the meaning of words – or even make up words – the better to suit their goals.  This is most evident in the vast expansion of the concept “hate speech,” speech made criminal because words don’t just inspire violence, they are violence, which is illegal.  From hate speech comes the concepts of “trigger words,” and “violence-free zones,” and long lists of words we may not say … unless we’re progressives, actively denouncing hate speech words.

Once progressives impose their new words and alternate meanings on us – usually starting with the dual conflict arenas – college campuses and the national news media – we conservatives seem remarkably unable to risk resisting the power of words.  

Unfortunately, words and meanings do have power, and whether consciously or because of an unconscious groupthink, progressives are indeed winning the war for the use of words and meanings to control society.

A recent weapon in the progressive’s War on Words has been their cancel culture.   This recent phenomenon has caused people – even people of real power – to lose their jobs, their reputations, their families.  Cancel culture is immensely violent – but since the warriors are progressive, “that’s O.K.” in a way it would never be acceptable if conservatives used the same words and tactics toward their own ends.

Bottom line: When we don’t resist, we cede to the progressives a power over their imposed cultural constructs, which in turn define the way we work, the way we live – and, literally – the way we think.

A few quick examples.  In one context, the word “choice” means having control over our bodies, meaning abortion.  However, in another context, choice means which schools our children attend.  Recently, this term has gotten more convoluted.  In the context of “choice” meaning the privacy of our bodies there's abortion on demand.  However, bodily choice is also applied to personal choice in another realm – vaccinations against COVID-19 – and to progressives, choice suddenly means something else. Progressives assert that mere citizens don’t have the right to choose to NOT have their COVID shots.  Should we try to exercise our false choice to abstain from being forcibly vaccinated, we can be victimized by job loss, travel restrictions or other arcane discrimination.  But that’s O.K..  In this case, “choice” means the progressive left can force us to get shots because they have the “choice” to be safe from vaccine deniers.

Another example, the word “phobia.”  As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.”  But the way progressives use phobia, when they apply it to their own core constituencies, it means “hatred against something.”  Hence, transphobia, which should mean “fear of trans” becomes “hate of all things trans.”  This usage has been extended to fatphobia and other new “phobia” words, standing any “hyphenated-phobia” word on its head.

Another widespread and egregious example is the word racism.  Until five minutes ago, racism had only described people who violently hated other people because of their race, not their actions.  Then, racist was easy to identify.  A racist actively discriminated against blacks or Hispanics, Asians, or “other” physically-identifiable groups.  In doing so, these haters used every tool from Jim Crow to Judge Lynch to enforce a harsh criticism against members of those “other” races.  The horrific Jim Crow and Judge Lynch excesses found in the Deep South after the Civil War, were also found in the North and Midwest – but not until after World Wars I and II.  During those two wars, while white men were overseas by the million, fighting against truly racist regimes in Germany and Japan, and white workers’ absence in factories required replacements.  Blacks abandoned share-cropper farms in droves, relocating for better-paying jobs in the North and Midwest.  This led to violence – not “violent words,” but violent actions.  These first manifested themselves in the early 1920s with the rebirth – in the North and Midwest – of the KKK.  The hatred and violence by some whites toward blacks became harsher during the Great Depression, when everyone was suffering.  Many unemployed whites asserted their superiority over blacks – often violently – in order to not feel like they themselves were at the bottom of society’s ladder.

However, blacks weren’t the only victims of violent racism.  The Klan also targeted Jews and eastern Europeans in the Midwest and North. Most Americans know of President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to intern all West Coast Japanese – even Americans citizens born of Japanese parents or grandparents – into concentration camps for much of the Second World War.  But most don’t realize Japanese antipathy toward America’s racism stemmed from San Francisco’s 1904 demands to exclude Japanese immigration from the U.S., culminating in the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” of 1907, agreed to by President Theodore Roosevelt, which “voluntarily” curtailed Japanese immigration.  Despite the fact that Japan and America became allies during the First World War, the Gentlemen’s Agreement ultimately led to a ban of all Japanese immigrants, and was enacted as the U.S. Immigration Act of 1924.  The antipathy this aroused in Japan made the Pacific War between the US and Japan in 1941-45 all but inevitable.  The one-time allies hated each other, primarily because of racism.

Racism manifests as either physical violence or overt discrimination.  Violence is clear, but let’s consider overt discrimination.  In the late 1950s, lily-white Deerfield, Illinois won a Supreme Court decision that allowed the township to block the sales of “open housing” to blacks as long as the land was turned into public parks.  At the same time, the town of Cummins, Georgia had a public policy manifested by their slogan, “The sun never sets over a black head.”  More than 1,000 blacks were forcibly driven from the county in 1912, beginning with a lynching.  This ban remained in force for 75 years, until 1987.

The progressives have also succeeded in redefining recently created terms, such as “denier.”  Originally used to identify anti-Semitic propagandists who alleged that the Holocaust Hitler’s Germany – inflicted on six and a half Jews, along with Gypsies, homosexuals and other so-called sub-humans – never happened.  Hence “deniers.”  However, today’s progressives use that word to identify those who don’t agree with the groupthink that claims that the worst fears of climate change are not just wrong, but dangerous.  They go on to claim that no other perspective is possible, citing the ascientific notion of “settled science.” 

Etymology has remarkable power, when we let the progressives get away with this coup de main. A surprise attack on the way we form thoughts, as well as how words create actions – is has terrifying implications.  This is not new to progressives – but their use of it is unprecedented.  George Orwell’s most famous work, 1984, postulated a dictatorial state where thoughts are controlled by altering the meaning of words.  It gave us words such as Newspeak, Thoughtcrime, Crimethink, Doublespeak and Thought Police.

What is this War on Words?  An excellent example is the concerted effort to classify words as violence.  This is at the heart of the woke movement so prevalent on college campuses.


Ned Barnett is a long-time conservative political activist.  He is currently helping authors by ghostwriting or coaching them in their work, editing and marketing books and their authors.  A lifelong author himself, with 40 books published and more on the way, Barnett has “gone to school” on wokeness and the progressives’ war on words.  He can be reached at nedbarnett51@gmail.com or 702-561-1167.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License

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