A few years ago I screamed out in an earlier incarnation of this blog/colossus that I’m proud of being a liberal.
Remember the days when calling people liberal was about as rotten as calling them child molesters? Yeah, after Piggy Figgy Newt Gingrich sent out marching orders in the form of his infamous mid-1990s GOPAC Memo, even the most dyed-in-the-wool Democrats ran away screaming if anyone even used a word beginning with the letter L in their rabbity-scared presence.
“Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party,” Newty wrote after the 1994 election in which his GOP had become, yep, the majority party in the US House of Representatives. That victory got Gingrich and his coatholders to thinking that with a little more luck and concerted effort they could wipe the Dems off the face of the Earth, or at least equate them in the anencephalic public’s mind with commies or Nazis.
Language, in fact, was so important to this goal that the GOPAC Memo included a couple of lists of words that Republicans could and should use in their speeches and sound bites to redefine the political landscape.
When referring to themselves or the Republican Party, Gingy advised, speakers should use certain words. “These words,” he wrote, “can help give extra power to your message.” They included:
- Common Sense
When speaking of the, ugh, Democrats, Newt wrote, other, less complimentary verbiage was required. “These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast,” he counseled.
- Liberal (Woo-hoo!)
Old Joey Goebbels would have been proud.
The two most important words in that list of pejoratives seem to have been liberal and taxes.
Every Republican candidate for any office in the last two decades has villified liberals and screamed to high holy heaven about taxes.
To my chagrin, not one Dem I can recall stood up and said, Damn right I’m a liberal; what of it?
The GOP became so enamored with demonizing liberals that they even began turning the slur upon each other, so we were often confronted with the bizarre specter of two anti-tax, anti-affirmative action, anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-science blowhards accusing each other of the mortal sin of liberalism.
And the goddamned Democrats ran away and hid!
Well, I sure as hell wasn’t going to hide.
I stood up as proudly as that field full of extras, Tony Curtis, and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, and shouted: I am a liberal! I’d have climbed the roof to holler it, only I’m not so fond of heights.
I Am Spart…, er, I Mean, I Am LIberal!
Now that the Me Party-ists and other even more wingnutty factions of the Far Right have grasped control of the Grand Old Party, the word liberal seems far less ugly. Somehow not even the craziest Lefty can compare to the psychopathy of the new Right. As a matter of fact, self-described liberal websites have popped up all over the place. Even though pols, natch, still have not overcome their terror at the mere mention of the word, more and more wags and mavens are embracing it.
So, of course, the panic peddlers of the Right have had to jigger their language — remember, it “can help give extra power to your message.” The preferred slander today, apparently, is libtard.
This word alloy combines the “wisdom” of Newt Gingrich with the cruel intent of the towel-snapping high school gym locker room punk. Liberal and retard — libtard! — the term embodies a certain repulsive beauty, much like the brilliant and awe-inspiring colors of nuclear weapon flash.
I am, a certain segment of the populace is convinced, a libtard.
So be it. As a matter of fact, I’m going to borrow a page from the LGBTQ and Black factions of my own club. Just as queer and nigger have been appropriated by those respective groups, I’m snatching libtard from the slack jaws of the citizens of Fox Nation.
I am a libtard!
Because if this guy considers me a libtard…
… then I’m more than happy to be one.