Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dictionary of Republicanisms

The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Heuvel has collected a lexicon of terms used by Republicans and their definitions.

Before we can win the great battle of ideas, we must debunk the right’s political discourse, a veritable code of encrypted language that twists common usage to deceive the public for the Republicans’ purposes. The key to their linguistic strategy is to use words that sound moderate to us but mean something completely different to them. Their tactics range from the childish use of antonyms (“clean” = “dirty”) to the pseudo-academic use of prefixes (“neo” is a favorite) to the pernicious and very expensive rebranding of traditional labels (“liberal” as an insult).

We decided we needed to break the code by building a Republican dictionary. Skewer their deceptions with the fine-tipped sword of satire. Lies melt away in the face of mockery.

[…]

As momentum for the project grew, friends and allies joined the effort. TomDispatch.com asked its readers and writers to submit their own definitions. Reviewing the submissions from our website, we found that certain trends became apparent. “Compassionate conservative” and “ownership society” were the most popular targets. “No Child Left Behind” was the most common riff. The disaster in Iraq was the subject of the most outrage. The results have been compiled in a new book, Dictionary of Republicanisms (Nation Books). Here are some of my favorites. I hope they inspire you to action, to take back this great nation from those who are doing it such harm.

[…]

abstinence-only sex education n. Ignorance-only sex education [Wayne Martorelli, Lawrenceville, NJ].

alternative energy sources n. New locations to drill for gas and oil [Peter Scholz, Fort Collins, Colo.].

bankruptcy n. A punishable crime when committed by poor people but not corporations [Beth Thielen, Studio City, Calif.].

[…]

DeLay, Tom n. 1. Past tense of De Lie [Rick Rodstrom, Los Angeles, Calif.]. 2. Patronage saint [Andrew Magni, Nonatum, Mass.].

democracy n. A product so extensively exported that the domestic supply is depleted [Michael Schwartz, unknown].

dittohead n. An Oxy(contin)moron [Zydeco Boudreaux, Gretna, La.].

energy independence n. The caribou witness relocation program [Justin Rezzonico, Keene, Ohio].

[…]

neoconservatives n. Nerds with Napoleonic complexes [Matthew Polly, Topeka, Kans.].

9/11 n. Tragedy used to justify any administrative policy, especially if unrelated (See Deficit, Iraq War) [Dan Mason, Durham, NH].

No Child Left Behind riff. 1. v. There are always jobs in the military [Ann Klopp, Princeton, NJ]. 2. n. The rapture [Samantha Hess, Cottonwood, Ariz.].

ownership society n. A civilization where 1 percent of the population controls 90 percent of the wealth [Michael Albert, Piscataway, NJ].

Patriot Act n. 1. The pre-emptive strike on American freedoms to prevent the terrorists from destroying them first. 2. The elimination of one of the reasons why they hate us [Michael Thomas, Socorro, NM].

[…]

stuff happens interj. Slang. Donald Rumsfeld as master historian [Sheila and Chalmers Johnson, San Diego, Calif.].

voter fraud n. A significant minority turnout [Sue Bazy, Philadelphia, Pa.].

Wal-Mart n. The nation-state, future tense [Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco, Calif.].

water n. Arsenic storage device [Joy Losee, Gainesville, Ga.].

woman n. 1. Person who can be trusted to bear a child but can’t be trusted to decide whether or not she wishes to have the child. 2. Person who must have all decisions regarding her reproductive functions made by men with whom she wouldn’t want to have sex in the first place [Denise Clay, Philadelphia, Pa.].

They left out:

gay n. 1. The last acceptable persecution target in America, replacing blacks (see Civil Rights Act, 1964) and Jews (see World War II). 2. Trendy fashion accesory (see Single Republican over 30).

Any other suggestions?