Monday, 16 November 2020

Using the word 'liberal' as an insult.

 

In my daily watching of the current American political shenanigans [mostly via YouTube] I find myself partly bemused, partly confused, by the frequent hurling of certain words from one side to the other [I won't say which side to which 'cos there's no need], not just in terms of deprecation, but in the expectation that the person to whom such address is made is going to feel utterly crushed by such an imprecation, something which we Brits - [at least the vast majority of us] would not feel in any way cowed by - and, to give credit to our American 'cousins' who are the targets of such, for the most part neither are they. 

There's a number of such terms being bandied about as though they were 'terms of abuse' and deemed by the attacking side as being sufficiently cutting enough to close down conversation, including, apart from the word 'liberal' itself, 'socialist', 'anti-capitalist', 'politically correct', 'tolerant', 'non-discriminatory' - and, hopelessly off the mark to genuinely apply to 99% of both British and American politicians, 'communist' [of all the terms!]. I, for one, and I'm sure all those of or close to, my persuasions would feel not only unfazed by but actually quite proud to be referred to in these terms - well, perhaps not 'communist' but only because anyone informed enough can see that it's manifestly wide of the mark. 



I bring the subject up because recently in our TV networks' reporting on the recent decisive election result [at least the 'President' part of it] and its needlessly drawn-out aftermath, a number of American politicians from both sides are being invited to give interviews here - and exclusively for the Republicans, their interviews almost invariably descend to 'accusing' the BBC or Channel Four [our most middle-of-the-road channel, some would claim slightly left-of-centre] of being - shock, horror! - a typically 'liberal' or even 'left wing' [!] medium, as though that alone invalidates all questions being asked, the interviewer being expected to deny such an egregious 'slur', which they never do, often while trying to hide the smile on their faces. This happens time and time again. 

To give the British Conservative Party its due, its members do not spit out these and similar words with the name-calling venom that some American Republicans do in accusatory tone. If they are used at all it's in the sense of being non-judgmentally factual. And I've also noticed, by the way, that when an American right-wing politician is suggested as being 'reactionary' or even a 'fascist-sympathiser' they rarely, if ever, wish to disassociate themselves from such words. Interesting.

 But those I'm talking about here, rather than answer a searching question they'll draw out the argument, usually because the answer is too difficult or they don't have one, by throwing in a time-wasting hostile deflection. Can't they just see that such faux-vituperations have zero effect? Exasperating! 

So, to all those to whom I'm referring, pray let me have just one more word..........



22 comments:

  1. Sadly, political commentary has devolved to nothing more than name calling, here, in the USA. Intellectually? I'm not sure a majority of the population is capable of anything involving more depth. It's become very school yard bully and tedious. Embarrassing... with the world watching. Intellectually? This country has all the 'game' of your average first grader. Sigh. Great post.

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    1. All it requires is a sensible, fair dose of maturity, U. Yes, 'schoolyard bullying' is precisely just like what it is, something you'd expect a child to grow out of on reaching adolescence. Sadly and remarkably that's a goal too high for what seems to be the majority nowadays. Surely it can't get any worse - though I fear it can and will.

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  2. I have had people ask me if I'm a liberal and I proudly say 'Yes.' They ask me how far left I am and I say how far does left go.
    To me, liberals want life to be better for all, while the right wants life to be better for themselves.
    I do not agree.

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    1. Your every word is music, Bob. Concisely put, I couldn't say it any better.

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  3. here here to that last graphic!

    "I, for one, and I'm sure all those of or close to, my persuasions would feel not only unfazed by but actually quite proud to be referred to in these terms - well, perhaps not 'communist' but only because anyone informed enough can see that it's manifestly wide of the mark." - THIS!

    and I agree with dave and bob. perhaps under new leadership, we can be thought of as civilized again. but not til we crush the right under steamrollers!

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    1. It would be easy to write it off as merely being the effect of simple-mindedness, W.Q. but that would be not see it as the threat it is, viz. that anyone not of one's own opinion is devoid of any validity at all. I'm fully in accord with Obama's take on the situation as he expressed yesterday, that this is an acute and immediate danger to the idea that we want a democracy at all. We all know what the alternative is, the scariest part of it being that are too many, enough of them to tip the scales, who also know what the alternative is, and are wanting that very thing to happen. Terrifying.

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  4. I couldn't agree more. And I will have to say I think most of our news network here lean one way or the other. So it is why a watch BBC. I might add you have got some handsome news anchors dear.

    But your line "But those I'm talking about here, rather than answer a searching question they'll draw out the argument, usually because the answer is too difficult or they don't have one" is just it. They don't. If I see one more interview where they do this it will drive me nuts. They never answer the question, and will never see past their views. But this election has proven many to be sore losers. I recently saw a interview with Bill Mahr and Erin Pergurine, not sure that is spelled right, but she is a trump campaign lawyer. All she did was keep arguing her point on the voter fraud topic...on and on...but yet would not hear facts or admit to many of trump cases being thrown out already. Yet she offered no real answers.

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    1. We are lucky in that for as long as I've known it, our BBC has been straight down the middle politically, M.M. It gets criticism in equal measure from both sides - that it is charged with being either too 'liberal' or too 'pro-establishment' - so it must be doing something right, and long may it continue in that vein.
      There are aberrations, though. One from a few years ago when, on the truly historic day that gay marriage became legal, its bulletins never gave the occasion any mention at all. [Our commercial channels did do so, giving the subject its deserved prominence]. We were left to assume that some disapproving big-wig in that organisation ruled that the subject was out of bounds. It couldn't have been the Conservative government of the time who leaned on the BBC as it had been that very same government who allowed equal marriage to happen. But that occasion was exceptional.
      As for our news anchors, I'm quite happy with them. It's impossible to tell the personal political sympathies any articular newscaster has, and when it is leaked I'm often surprised. That is so unlike American channels where you can see within seconds a screen person turning up her/his nose at a given subject or bubbling over with enthusiasm, such that one half expects them to applaud.
      One perfectly valid criticism of the BBC, though, is that while they alow their male anchors to age before our eyes when a female starts showing her age they often get shunted to BBC radio where they won't be seen, or they just 'disappear'. It still happens, though less often than before.

      I'm pretty sure I saw that recent interview you refer to [I think it was on CNN] but so many of 'your' interviewees just go down the same old route - all bluster, talking over the interviewer, ignoring the question or, eventually, attacking the question or whoever asked it or the organisation they work for. Jeez, give me strength!

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  5. Right before the election, I had a lady make a comment about "snowflakes". I cheerfully informed her she was speaking to one. That ended that conversation.

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    1. That's the perfect answer, Sadie. It seems almost something to be ashamed of, to feel and show empathy with a victim, any victim of the system. I'm sure there are more than enough 'snowflakes' around to create a blizzard.

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  6. Here in Ozland, being a "Liberal" (but with a capital L) is to me a bit of an insult, because our very right wing party currently running the country is the Liberal Party. Talk about a misnomer! Our disgusting excuse for a prime minister is the fellow who thought it would be a splendid idea to take his family on an overseas holiday at the height of last summer's bushfires.

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    1. Yes, it's always seemed so incongruous for your most[?] reactionary party to call itself 'Liberal', R. The party over here, which used to be called the 'Liberal Party' [now the Social Democrat and Liberal Party], is equidistant between our Conservative and Labour parties, and when in our own elections there isn't a Green Party candidate I'll often vote for them as second-best- or sometimes, though more rarely, Labour.
      I often wonder why your own Liberal Party doesn't change its name to 'Conservative'. Perhaps there already is such a one, even further to the right?

      I have a blog-pal living in Melbourne who often vents his frustration with the
      government in Oz when on the phone with me every month - so I'm acutely aware, and indeed interested, in your own country's political goings-on. For current times you have my heartfelt sympathies.

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  7. I'm a proud liberal. How can Americans not be? Our nation was founded by liberals. Revolution to escape from a very conservative form of government (monarchy) is a liberal act. The civil war was fought and won by liberals who believed that human beings are not property. Women can own property and vote because liberals fought for them. And recently, liberals helped move the gay community closer to equality. And these are only those things I can think of off the top of my head. Yes, liberal and proud of it. I know that Liberal means something different in Europe (pro capitalist) and that can confuse some of us Yanks.

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    1. I'm not sure about 'Liberal = pro-capitalist' in Europe, Walt. When living in Germany I don't recall hearing that. It certainly isn't true here in the U.K., though it maybe so in some other parts of Europe.

      Just about all social progress throughout history has come via or originated in liberal thought, while the essence of conservatism is to keep things as they are, any change at all coming most reluctantly and often only after a fight. No, I'm with you totally, being 'Liberal' is something to be celebrated and proclaimed from the rooftops!

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    2. Although in France liberal does mean what you and I understand it to mean, I often hear it used to describe the more free-market leaning "right" than Socialism. But the "right" in France would be considered left of center in the US.

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    3. Yes, I think that interpretation of 'liberal' is used as a synonym for allowing EVERYTHING which, it hardly needs saying, no one in their right minds other than an extreme anarchist would want to prevail.
      Someone once told me, many decades ago, that the American Democratic Party is further to the right than the British Conservative Party. At the time I could hardly believe that to be so but with the observance of recent times I think there's more than a mere grain of truth in it. So many Americans appear to be simply terrified of 'socialism', just the word alone sending many into fits of abuse. That doesn't happen here - only, maybe, for the most rabid reactionaries.
      Also, the American Democrats seem today to be in as much hock to big business and profits as our Conservatives were, say, fifty or more years ago, but even that party has progressed, though with still quite a way to go.
      As for our 'free' National Health Service, I'd say that 9 out of 10 Brits, including self, are absolutely proud of it, and still today, any talk of nationalising even just parts if it is vociferously condemned from virtually all quarters.

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  8. I love your final word!

    I started to reference Reagan and how he changed things but, well, it's the United States. Never as enlightened as it was claimed to be.

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    1. Thanks, Mitch, but that was the most articulate way I could think of to conclude my thoughts on the subject.

      Reagan was an enigma, but for some, surely too MANY of us, whatever he did that was 'right' was eclipsed by his abject refusal even to just mention during his two terms, the word 'AIDS', even when its toll was at its height, for Heaven's sake. That was compounded by his writing out of his life his up- till-then best friend, Rock Hudson, out just when he was suffering - going so far as not to return the dying man's phone calls, which was unforgivable. But for Reagan, despite having his own gay son, what mattered most was his reputation, especially within his Republican party, rather than doing what was right. Thank goodness the days of having such a self-centred President are well and truly gone - are they not? [I'm rolling my eyes upward!]

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  9. Who controls the lexicon rules. The Conversatives have long been successful at this, Liberal = negative is one of their success stories.

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    1. I know it's worked so in your country, Dr Spo, but certainly not here. I can't imagine any Conservative Party member, or even supporter, spitting out the word 'liberal' as a term of abuse in the way that some American Republicans seems to do as a matter of course. Here it just doesn't register in that way, so would be a waste of breath.

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