Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Losing the Language, Losing the Argument

There’s an old saying in a debate that those who define the terms usually win the argument. That truism has been playing out on the political stage now for at least half a century, as the Right consistently concedes the language to the Left. If it seems like we’re always losing the argument, perhaps that’s because we’re always playing on their home field.

Of course, it’s true that language evolves naturally over time. Think of the word “hood,” which once referred only to a head covering. Now it’s also applied to the front of a car—the part that covers the engine. That’s a natural and logical evolution.

It’s when such shifts in meaning don’t occur naturally and aren’t logical that problems arise—when words are manipulated intentionally to make them mean things they didn’t mean before or aren’t supposed to mean. And this manipulation of language, otherwise known as propaganda, is something the Left is quite good at. In fact, rhetorically speaking, it might be the only thing they’re really good at—their entire game plan—since their arguments are rarely based on logic or fact.

Indeed, most of their arguments, like those for abortion, gun control, and “systemic racism,” are demonstrably illogical and contrafactual. But if they can get us to agree to their terms upfront, which we often do without even realizing it, then they can probably win the argument, anyway. Heck, at this point, it sometimes seems like they’ve already won the argument and all that remains for our side is rear-guard action and damage control. (But that isn’t necessarily the case).

A classic example of what I’m talking about is the word “capitalism” as used to describe our economic system. We conservatives are fond of calling ourselves capitalists or saying that we support capitalism. But in doing so, are we even aware that we’re accepting the Left’s premise—using their word? It was actually Karl Marx’s term for our system, one that he did not coin but did use extensively in Das Kapital (see?). And he certainly did not mean it in a good way.

Adopting the term as our own allows the Left to brand us as “greedy capitalists.” They can then invent pithy if nonsensical bromides like, “Capitalism is only for people who have capital.” Of course, every one of us has capital of some sort, if only our own hard work, that we can trade for goods and services in a free market economy. But since most people associate “capital” with money, it makes for a good slogan. The implied message is that capitalism is just for people with money. Everybody else can go to hell.

That’s why the other term I just used is superior: “free markets.” Free markets are something everybody can get behind because the operative word is “free.” Marxists might be able to argue that capitalism is for capitalists—it really isn’t, but that sounds convincing—but free markets are for everyone. That’s why, instead of talking about capitalism and playing right into the Left’s hands, conservatives should constantly drive home the benefits of a free-market economy.

Another example involves the labels leftists apply to themselves: “liberals” and “progressives.” I can’t imagine anything more illiberal and regressive than modern-day leftism, which seeks to deprive us of as many civil liberties as possible—including those guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, like freedom of religion and speech—and re-create a system led by the elites in which the rest of us are, in Friedrich von Hayek’s memorable phrase, “on the road [back] to serfdom.”

That’s why I always cringe when I hear conservative commentators refer to today’s leftist radicals as “liberals.” They’re certainly not classical liberals—i.e., libertarians—nor are they even old-fashioned, Jimmy Carter, Sunday-school-type liberals. It is vitally important, and becoming more so each day, to call them what they really are: Marxists, Stalinists, and Maoists. Besides accurately describing their policy preferences, such terms offer the rhetorical advantage of associating those policy preferences with some of history’s worst people, and deservedly so.

Lately, the Left has become so audacious in their manipulation of language that they’ve begun calling things the exact opposite of what they really are. Take “anti-fascism,” for example, as represented by the group Antifa, whose tactics closely resemble those of Hitler’s Brownshirts. And “anti-racism,” which is itself nothing more than a form of blatant racism.

Speaking of which, there’s another great example of language manipulation. The word “racism” literally means discrimination on the basis of race. But for the Left, only one race, whites, can be guilty of racism, because they define the word purely in terms of power. And in their Marxist worldview, in which everyone is either a victim or an oppressor, only white people can have power.

That, of course, is ridiculous on its face. In today’s America, many black people hold positions of power, from local school boards all the way up to the White House. But beyond that, the bastardization of the term allows the Marxists to claim victimhood for people who are not victims and condemn as oppressors those who have never oppressed anyone.

Indeed, given such a narrow definition of “racism,” it’s not much of a leap to assert that ALL white people are racist—because, remember, only they have power in the Left’s warped universe. And of course, that is exactly what the Left is asserting today. It is the basis for “Critical Race Theory,” that vile, hateful, racist (in the true sense of the word), viral ideology now infecting our schools and other institutions.

But it all begins when we as conservatives accept the Left’s lexicon. That’s why the front line of the current culture war must be at the level of language. We cannot simply argue policy; we must also contest vocabulary and refuse to let the Marxists set the terms of the debate. Otherwise, we’ve already lost it.


When white supremacists are brown

There’s been a lot of chatter about the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes. Asian-Americans are being targeted, yes—but the narrative may not be reflective of what liberal media outlets are disseminating. They want us to believe that white supremacy and Donald Trump are to blame. Calling COVID the ‘Wuhan coronavirus’ is what led to this recent spate of attacks. No, the virus came from China. That is a fact. You see the ‘my ethnicity is not a virus’ signs, though that sentiment seems to stop within lefty circles when they want to bash white people. There’s always a boomerang, folks. Whatever liberals dole out, eventually it will come back to split their lip open like a fool with a boomerang. Always. These people have no principles, only feelings that can land you in a lot of trouble.

The recent NYPD presser on anti-Asian hate crimes shows pictures of the suspects who look rather…nonwhite. I mean when that slide of those who were arrested was shown, there was not a white face on that screen.

This all stems from the horrific mass shooting in Atlanta where Robert Aaron Long shot and killed eight people, many of them Asian women. Cue the white supremacy and hate crime talk, though we don’t know yet why he did this. That’s what Andrew Sullivan noted in his piece on Substack, which relates to the NYPD presser here. We once again see the woke narrative replacing what’s factual. He goes long into the recent spa shootings committed by Long, the infusion of ‘critical race theory,’ which is worth a read, but he also notes that a good chunk of hate crimes committed against Asians in New York City were done by nonwhites. That shreds the white supremacy angle. He does say that Trump’s “China virus” rhetoric fanned the flames. I disagree, but here’s a key passage:

This isn’t in any way to deny increasing bias against Asian-Americans. It’s real and it’s awful. Asians are targeted by elite leftists, who actively discriminate against them in higher education, and attempt to dismantle the merit-based schools where Asian-American students succeed — precisely and only because too many Asians are attending. And Asian-Americans are also often targeted by envious or opportunistic criminal non-whites in their neighborhoods. For Trump to give these forces a top-spin with the “China virus” made things even worse, of course. For a firsthand account of a Chinese family’s experience of violence and harassment, check out this piece.

The more Asian-Americans succeed, the deeper the envy and hostility that can be directed toward them. The National Crime Victimization Survey notes that “the rate of violent crime committed against Asians increased from 8.2 to 16.2 per 1000 persons age 12 or older from 2015 to 2018.” Hate crimes? “Hate crime incidents against Asian Americans had an annual rate of increase of approximately 12% from 2012 to 2014. Although there was a temporary decrease from 2014 to 2015, anti-Asian bias crimes had increased again from 2015 to 2018.”

Asians are different from other groups in this respect. “Comparing with Black and Hispanic victims, Asian Americans have relatively higher chance to be victimized by non-White offenders (25.5% vs. 1.0% for African Americans and 18.9% for Hispanics). … Asian Americans have higher risk to be persecuted by strangers … are less likely to be offended in their residence … and are more likely to be targeted at school/college.” Of those committing violence against Asians, you discover that 24 percent such attacks are committed by whites; 24 percent are committed by fellow Asians; 7 percent by Hispanics; and 27.5 percent by African-Americans. Do the Kendi math, and you can see why Kendi’s “White Supremacist domestic terror” is not that useful a term for describing anti-Asian violence.

But what about hate crimes specifically? In general, the group disproportionately most likely to commit hate crimes in the US are African-Americans. At 13 percent of the population, African Americans commit 23.9 percent of hate crimes. But hate specifically against Asian-Americans in the era of Trump and Covid? Solid numbers are not yet available for 2020, which is the year that matters here. There’s data, from 1994 to 2014, that finds little racial skew among those committing anti-Asian hate crimes. Hostility comes from every other community pretty equally.

The best data I’ve found for 2020, the salient period for this discussion, are provisional data on complaints and arrests for hate crimes against Asians in New York City, one of two cities which seem to have been most affected. They record 20 such arrests in 2020. Of those 20 offenders, 11 were African-American, two Black-Hispanic, two white, and five white Hispanics. Of the black offenders, a majority were women. The bulk happened last March, and they petered out soon after. If you drill down on some recent incidents in the news in California, and get past the media gloss to the actual mugshots, you also find as many black as white offenders.

This doesn’t prove much either, of course. Anti-Asian bias, like all biases, can infect anyone of any race, and the sample size is small and in one place. But it sure complicates the “white supremacy” case that the mainstream media simply assert as fact.

And that NYPD presser complicated that narrative pretty well.


Judge Takes Child From Mother Because She’s “Anti-Mask"

During a custody battle with her ex-husband, Melanie Joseph had her parental rights stripped after a court ruled she’s a “danger” to the child for being “anti-mask.”

Audio recording reveals Broward County Judge Dale C. Cohen telling the court he thinks the mother’s “credibility is very low.”

“I don’t believe a lot of what she testified to,” Judge Cohen said. “Um, she’s one of these anti-mask people and she’s got the audacity to post that on social media that she’s an anti-mask people.”

Joseph told Peters she isn’t “anti-mask” and had instead posted a pre-pandemic photo online.


Under Joe Biden, Woke Banks Run Wild

During the final weeks of the Trump administration, the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued an important regulation that would have required financial institutions to base their rules governing access to banking services on financial concerns, rather than political views.

According to the Trump-era OCC, "The rule codifies more than a decade of OCC guidance stating that banks should conduct risk assessment of individual customers, rather than make broad-based decisions affecting whole categories or classes of customers, when provisioning access to services, capital, and credit."

The Trump administration's rule would have provided an important safeguard against large banks—defined by the OCC as those "with more than $100 billion in assets that may exert significant pricing power or influence over sectors of the national economy"—using their vast wealth and financial power to impose their ideological views on Americans.

Although it seems like the rule ought to draw significant bipartisan support—do liberals really want big banks punishing people who don't agree with them?—soon after taking office, President Biden put the rule on a 60-day hold.

The Biden administration's move is a clear signal that it intends to kill the regulation before it goes into effect on April 1.

One might be tempted to think big banks would support the Trump-era rule because it would allow them to take politics completely out of their financial decision-making process. The regulation would have provided them an excuse when special-interest groups on the Left or Right demand they get involved in controversial debates. That, unfortunately, could not be further from reality.

Large banks are some of the rule's biggest opponents, and many financial institutions have already started to roll out plans for using this opportunity to promote liberal ideology—and to earn a profit while doing so.

In Congress, many Democrats have aligned themselves with large financial institutions seeking to eliminate the rule, because they want to allow banks to impose liberalism on the American people.

Many on the left want to allow banks to discriminate on the basis of political ideology, among other things, because large banks have already used their power to promote a variety of causes favored by Democrats.

For instance, in February, Bank of America announced, "Building on Bank of America's longstanding support for the Paris Climate Agreement, the company today outlined initial steps to achieve its goal of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its financing activities, operations and supply chain before 2050."

Pay careful attention to Bank of America's statement. The bank not only promised to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, but to reduce emissions "in its financing activities." That means it plans to force businesses—and perhaps even individuals—who might otherwise choose to continue using fossil fuels to adopt "green" energy or else lose access to the bank's capital.

Bank of America isn't alone. Seemingly every large banking institution in the United States is now gearing up to use its vast financial resources to promote liberal causes. Earlier in March, Citibank announced commitments similar to those issued the month prior by Bank of America.

During the announcement, Citi CEO Jane Fraser said, "We believe that global financial institutions like Citi have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to play a leading role in helping drive the transition to a net zero global economy and make good on the promise of the Paris Agreement."

Institutions like Bank of America and Citi aren't stopping at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. "Our commitments to closing the gender pay gap, to advancing racial equity, and to pioneering the green agenda have demonstrated that this is good for business and not at odds with it," Fraser said in the same announcement. "And we will continue to be part of the solution to these challenges and enable others to do so as well."

Many Americans believe climate change, the gender pay gap and other causes now adopted by large banks are serious problems worthy of our attention, and thus might think the elimination of the Trump-era OCC rule is a positive step forward. Think carefully, though, before coming to such a reckless conclusion.

If massive banks and financial institutions can effectively shut down any industry or even class of nonprofit organizations because they disagree with those institutions' politics, then they have the authority to control society in ways that all Americans should be extremely uncomfortable with. There would be absolutely nothing stopping CEOs at major banks from waking up in six months and saying, "You know, maybe we were wrong about that whole climate change thing. I think we'll stop providing financial services to renewable energy companies instead."

The modern banking system cannot exist without government-created central bank currency. Many large banks have, at one time or another, received massive funding from the federal government in the form of taxpayer-funded bailouts or COVID-related financial support. The government is well within its rights to require those banks to make services available to all creditworthy groups in the United States and to prevent them from playing politics.

If instead banks are permitted to discriminate against businesses and individuals that do not share their political views, their power and influence will undoubtedly become a grave threat to the preservation of our free society.


My other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://john-ray.blogspot.com (FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


No comments: