26 minutes ago
Thursday, 27 August 2009
'Liberal' and 'socialist' as terms of abuse in America.
I was very interested to hear an item on our BBC Radio main morning news programme today which said that in America the word 'liberal', which was formerly used as a political insult, now no longer seems to carry the weight it used to, whereas 'socialist', when voiced by the 'right', does still carry the same disparaging clout. (I ought to say that in the UK neither word is used in particularly condemnatory fashion - indeed, even some Conservatives here are proud to declare themselves as 'liberal' on social and/or economic matters! ) The subject came up relating to the sad, but not entirely unexpected, demise of Senator Kennedy - almost universally liked and admired here, I dare venture to say. But it seems that defining him merely as 'liberal' is not pejorative enough for right-wing American commentators and politicians - the word 'socialist' carries more demeaning weight. Actually, to call Kennedy or Obama as 'socialist' or even Obama as being just 'liberal' is almost outside our comprehension here - though, of course, one sees things through the political prism of one's homeland and its history. But if there actually is this change of mood in American right-wing thought, it is something to be welcomed.