I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been having trouble figuring out what many conservatives are saying lately. In one breath they tell me President Obama is a Muslim. The next moment they nod grimly and warn: “He’s a communist.” Occasionally, they insists that he’s both at once; and on the nutty fringes it’s not hard to find those who say the president is a Nazi, a communist, a socialist, a fascist and the Antichrist all wrapped up in one.
My confusion only deepened when Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was asked at a recent town hall meeting how many “card-carrying Marxists” he thought there were in Congress.
West hardly missed a beat, telling his stunned audience that there were eighty.
When pressed to clarify such statements later, Mr. West backed off slightly, but his campaign manager, Tim Edson, insisted when speaking with reporters that labels weren’t the point. And by that, I believe he meant “words in an actual dictionary.” Maybe none of the Democrats in Congress were actually card-carrying commies. So what?
“We can quibble about the terminology used to describe them,” Edson grumbled, “but it’s clear. Whatever you call people that oppose capitalism and free markets and individual economic freedom —maybe it’s ‘socialist,’ maybe it’s ’communist’ —but that’s the point the congressman was making, and he stands by the words.”
It struck me, on reading Edson’s response, that he would have been just as happy if his boss had called Democrats in Congress toaster ovens or card-carrying poltergeists. And that’s when it finally hit me. For fringe conservatives, at least, labels no longer meant what they meant in the English language.
You could call the president or any liberal a communist, a curmudgeon, or a cucumber. It wouldn’t make an ounce of difference.
I DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO ACT and started trying to put together a new right-wing lexicon. Here’s what I have so far:
Kenya: an island in the Hawaiian chain where President Obama was born.
Bush tax cuts: magic legislation guaranteed to create jobs; passed in June 2001 when unemployment stood at 4.5%. Additional cuts in May 2003. Still in effect when U. S. economy crashed in 2008; still in effect in October 2009 when unemployment hit 10%. Cannot be repealed under any circumstances because this will cause a rise in unemployment.
Free enterprise: it’s just what patriots (see below) do; includes the right of British Petroleum to pollute the Gulf of Mexico without government regulation, the right of Wal-Mart to bribe officials of Mexico and drive out competition and the right of Rupert Murdoch’s people bribe police and hack into private cell phone and email accounts of citizens.
Fox News: the last bastion of truth where free enterprise is always worshiped.
Patriot: any American who listens exclusively to Fox News, who agrees that taxes on billionaires can never be raised because it will make them sad, or something; a person who feels it is better to deny health care to other Americans, because, well, if you love America, you don’t want poor Americans to love America and be healthy, too; may also be an American who supports family values and would love to die for his or her country, except when they might want to commit adultery, personally, or actually have the chance to enlist and get shot at by real enemies of the United States. (See: Cheney, Gingrich, Romney, etc.)
Patriotism: what a billionaire or millionaire feels when he or she sees other people’s children sent off to fight to protect his or her freedom, while simultaneously keeping tax rates low (flag pin displayed in your lapel proves your patriotism, but serving in the military under the actual real flag does not if you’d like to marry your same-sex partner).
Unplugging granny: the act of disconnecting an elderly American from a life support system; inevitable result when godless, secular, humanist liberals (who are really Nazis) try to extend health care to millions of other Americans who can’t afford to be connected in the first place.
Red-blooded American: often, a grumpy older individual, predominantly white and Christian, but not always; may own several guns and tote a Bible. Fears Big Government, because government is the problem not the solution, especially when government might curtail in any way government-provided health care benefits. The opposite of liberal Americans (also known as Fascists) who believe all Americans should have access to affordable health care. (See: socialized medicine, following.)
Socialized medicine: any attempt to extend health care coverage to a 38-year old stay-at-home mother who suddenly develops multiple sclerosis, a 27-year-old type-1 diabetic who has just been denied coverage because of preexisting conditions and a 53-year-old factory worker who has lost his coverage after his company (see free enterprise, above) in Wisconsin closed operations and moved all assembly operations to China.
Job creator: any business person who can figure out how to avoid paying taxes to the government he or she purports to love (often seen wearing a flag pin) by hiding profits in the Cayman Islands and simultaneously closing American factories and shipping jobs to India.
Public sector workers (also union thug, below): men and women who undermine individual economic freedoms and pose an insidious threat to free markets because their jobs cannot be outsourced to Mexico or Honduras.
Religion, freedom of: one of the most important rights granted to us through the wisdom of the Founding Fathers; any attempt to require a Catholic institution to offer birth control coverage to female employees is an “attack on religion.”
Speech, freedom of; petition, right to; assembly, right of: what conservatives do when they gather to hear Sarah Palin speak. Not to be confused the right of the Dixie Chicks to criticize the president or with the Occupy Wall Street movement, since those people look funny and according to Fox News don’t bathe often enough, and even if they did it wouldn’t matter because they’re communists, anyway. Conservatives know that the U. S. Constitution was intended originally to protect only red-blooded Americans (see above), which includes those who agree with every syllable Glenn Beck ever uttered, including any babbling he did when he was still a baby.
Terrorist cell: any group of Muslim Americans who might wish to exercise their religion, freedom of (see above) by building a mosque, pretty much anywhere in America.
Judicial activist: a liberal judge who might vote, for example, to overturn The Defense of Marriage Act.
A strict constructionist: a conservative judge who might vote, for example, to overthrow the health care law; also a judge who might vote to overthrow the decision of a state supreme court and award an election to a conservative candidate. A strict constructionist understands that the Founding Fathers (see below) who wrote the U. S. Constitution intended corporations to be considered persons so they might speak their institutional minds and dump their tens of millions into all elections.
Slut: a young college-age woman who disagrees with Rush Limbaugh and can’t imagine why anyone would sleep with that fat bag of puddings.
Union thug: any worker who organizes along with others to try to win the slightest improvement in wages or benefits; includes 22-year-old first-year female teacher, 5′ 3″ and 125 pounds, waving grade book in menacing fashion; also 58-year-old social worker, and grandmother, who hopes to safeguard her retirement (not to be confused with an unplugged granny.)
Founding Fathers: the fifty-five men who wrote the U. S. Constitution; who knew corporations were people, while also believing that an absolute commitment to freedom meant women, blacks and poor, white men didn’t actually need the right to vote; this group includes Alexander Hamilton, who originally argued in favor of monarchy.
Bill of Rights: list of inviolable rights, meant to protect angry conservatives who want to carry concealed weapons into bars, saunas, day care facilities and funeral parlors. Does not protect Americans who don’t want to be strip-searched when arrested for crimes as inconsequential as failing to carry a pooper scooper. Also: Muslims and others who look “different” are not covered.
liberal (also known as Nazi, fascist, socialist, communist): any person who has ever spoken out about any of the abuses of any large corporation, even when talking in his or her sleep; anyone who believes the average working-class American might be getting screwed; anyone a red-blooded American doesn’t agree with on any topic, including NASCAR; and anyone who denies that Charles and David Koch are captains of industry and infallible job creators.
I’M STILL WORKING on my lexicon, but if good and honest liberals and good and sensible conservatives will only define their terms, we might get somewhere in the end.