When liberals can corrupt language, they can control conservatives
George Orwell, secular prophet of the 20th century, observed that "if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." He warned in his enduring 1946 essay "On Politics and the English Language" against "ready-made phrases" that invade the mind until "every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain."
The invasion of ready-made progressive phrases has anesthetized many American minds. Progressives can masquerade as liberals because their linguistic weaponry is definitionally fluid. Favored phrases perform ideological judo, flipping Marxist jargon about class struggle for today's caste struggle of clashing identity groups.
Take for example the intentionally undefinable "gender fluidity." When Barack Obama became president in 2009, there were still the same two biological sexes, male and female, that had emerged untold ages ago. But by the time he left office in 2017, somehow, there were more than 50 non-biological "orientations." Those boys winning high school girls' track meets? Fluidly speaking, they oriented as girls. It might not be fair, but it was now "equitable."
Shape-shifting "equity" trumps comprehensible equality. So the ready-made, mind-invasive phrase "racial equity" means whatever advances the party line.
That would be the Democratic Party — hence President Joe Biden's appointment of Susan Rice as head of the White House's Domestic Policy Council. A senior official in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, she's charged with materializing unmeasurable racial equity throughout the federal government.
Equity shouldered aside equality by insinuating that statistical "disparities" prove "systemic racism." This ready-made phrase insists that the United States was founded in aspiration to not "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," but rather black slavery. Even more, that this country remains racist — regardless of the end of Jim Crow; civil rights legislation of the 1950s and '60s; educational, political, economic, and social strides since then of black Americans; and America's continued attraction for non-white immigrants from around the world.
Under the anesthetic of corrupt language, we are told that law enforcement, supposedly epitomized by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last May, allegedly implements "white supremacy." But of 44 million black Americans, Floyd last year was one of only 15 who were unarmed when killed by police.
Modern progressives often worship in the Church of Secular Fundamentalism. "Woke" ideology replaces theology. So true believers treat critics as heretics. This explains their allergic reaction to Republicans, conservatives, and other dissenters and their compulsion to cancel — that is, excommunicate — all critics as "fascists" uttering "hate speech."
Such narrow-minded extremism would be easy to parody if the illiberal left had not made humor itself a category of "microaggression" so dangerous as to be macroaggression. When television broadcaster Katie Couric and Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post, among others, speak of "re-educating" supporters of ex-president Donald Trump (perhaps in "re-education camps" like those in which China's communist rulers imprison a million Uighurs?), they're beyond lampooning.
Progressives caricature such unflattering parallels as "what-aboutism." In other words, their beliefs supersede context and perspective.
There is plenty of bigoted expression — racial prejudice, Jew-hatred, hostility toward immigrants — to go around. For that we must thank oxymoronically named social media — if not for the hate-filled thoughts themselves, then for ease of dissemination.
But today's America of 330 million people is increasingly diverse without the "fundamental transformation" demanded by the left, a transformation in which not only statues of Confederate generals must go, but also those of patriots like Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. The number of people of mixed ethnic-racial backgrounds — like Obama himself — grows. So does the number of children born to them. Sociologist Richard Alba estimates that by 2050, one third of babies with white ancestry also will have Hispanic or non-white ancestry.
America already is transforming voluntarily, at the level of individual choice. Choice infuriates left-progressives; they default to rule by experts, by the party, by the state.
Functionally, progressives march under the slogan "Only Our Ideas Matter." In pursuit of a coerced utopia, they require a vocabulary of Orwellian "Newspeak," ready-made in faculty lounges across the country. But the personal decision-making of countless mentally unanesthetized individuals — call it free-market socializing — overturns their narrative of an unfairly inequitable United States. It cancels their claims for a coerced utopia with themselves in charge.
Eric Rozenman is a Washington, D.C.–based writer and author of Jews Make the Best Demons: "Palestine" and the Jewish Question (New English Review Press, 2018). The opinions expressed above are solely his own.