In 2016, for the first time in the broadcast era, leftists lost control of the semantic battlefield. If they recognized this fact, they recognized it too late. Thanks largely to social media, their Orwellian efforts to redefine, re-purpose or evade ordinary word usage made them look foolish and ultimately left them vulnerable to defeat. Twelve damning words:
12. Micro-aggression. In the hothouse environment of the American campus, the claim to have suffered a micro-aggression – an inadvertent slight to one’s identity – gathered pity points for the offended snowflakes. In the real world, where people suffer macro-aggressions on a daily basis, the whole concept just seemed trivial and pathetic.
11. Islamic. The problem here was that Democrats, from the president on down, could not bring themselves to use the word in a context where it was absolutely demanded, namely terrorism.
“As a Christian,” said Obama late in the campaign, “I’m not going to let them claim my religion and say, ‘you’re killing for Christ.’ I would say, that’s ridiculous. That’s not what my religion stands for. Call these folks what they are, which is killers and terrorists.” This senseless rant insulted more voters than it persuaded.
10. Husband. “Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial,” tweeted Matthew Lasner about lawyer pal Dan Goldstein. “My husband chasing them down to harass them.” Even the LGBT-friendly media cringe inwardly when forced to say “his husband” – one more insult to the language force fed from above.
9. Immigrant. When it fully controlled the media, the left dictated the change from illegal alien to illegal immigrant to undocumented immigrant. In 2016, the media dropped the “undocumented” and tried to make “immigrant” a synonym for “illegal immigrant.” Voters saw through the shift and resented it.
8. Supremacist. The word “racist” having lost its sting, the left upped the ante in 2016 to “white supremacist” and accused Donald Trump of being a friend of the movement, if not a supremacist himself.
Wrote Charles Blow of the New York Times, “Increasingly, as he picks his cabinet from among his fawning loyalists, it is becoming clear that by ‘Make America Great Again,’ he actually meant some version of ‘Make America a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy Again.'” This isn’t journalism. This is McCarthyism – except, of course, that McCarthy would never say anything so hateful and reckless.
7. Dog-whistle. According to Hillary Clinton, Trump spent his entire campaign “offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters” – an odd thing to say about the most plain-spoken candidate since Harry Truman. No, the only people hearing race hate in words like “thug,” “inner-city” and “illegal alien” were those brooding about their failure to control the language as they once did.
6. Matter. The most terrifying question for Democratic candidates during the primaries was “whose lives matter?” To insist that “all lives matter” was to infuriate the base. To crumple under pressure and concede that only “black lives matter” was to alienate the saner half of America.
5. Irredeemable. Almost lost in Hillary’s controversial speech at an LGBT fundraiser in early September was her depiction of Trump supporters as “irredeemable.” Some in the media challenged Hillary, believing that with tough love some Trump supporters could be redeemed. “Democrats should be reaching out to working class whites,” said CNN’s Sally Kohn from on high, “and helping them past racial resentment.”
4. Discredited. “The discredited source of these videos, James O’Keefe, is a convicted criminal with a history of doctoring video to advance his ideological agenda,” the DNC’s Donna Brazile told the media after two high-level Democratic operatives had been fired or forced out. The videos showed them planning violence at Trump rallies.
In a CNN segment on the same videos, reporter Drew Griffin introduced O’Keefe as as a “discredited conservative activist.” CNN political contributor Maria Cardona piled on. “James O’Keefe has zero credibility,” she insisted. “He is the one who did the doctored videos of Planned Parenthood, which were completely false.”
3. Fake. Actually, Ms. Cardona, it was David Daleiden who made the Planned Parenthood videos in question. Although national Planned Parenthood promptly dismissed them as “faked,” those who have had stomach enough to watch Daleiden’s fifth video would surely beg to differ.
This video shows a clinician with a Valley Girl accent picking through a tray filled with the parts of a “fetal cadaver” – a lung here, an intestine there – while calmly discussing the viability of their resale in the fetal tissue market. The media deep-sixed the videos but kept the word “fake” or “discredited” to describe just about any news they did not anyone to know or share. It didn’t work.
2. Conspiracy. On Sept. 11 of this year America learned what a “conspiracy theory” was, namely a set of facts that had yet to drop kick the media in the teeth.
When Hillary seized up that morning, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza grudgingly conceded that her collapse would “catapult questions about her health from the ranks of conservative conspiracy theory to perhaps the central debate in the presidential race over the coming days.”
Five days earlier, ignoring all video evidence, Cillizza had dismissed questions about Hillary’s health as a “a totally ridiculous issue.” Who are you going to believe, the media told America throughout the campaign, us or your lying eyes?
1. Deplorables. Half of Donald Trump’s supporters, claimed Hillary on Sept. 9, belonged in a “basket of deplorables.” What made them deplorable, said Hillary, was that they were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”
Hillary’s ever so tolerant LGBT audience laughed and applauded. The deplorables took note, and on Nov. 8, they got their revenge. If Hillary’s progressive allies pulled any message from this catastrophic choice of words, it was to never say out loud what they routinely say to each other.
Media wishing to interview Jack Cashill, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.