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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fighting Words: How to Humiliate -- and Convert -- a Right-Winger By John Dolan, AlterNet. Posted March 25, 2008.


http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/80507/?page=entire

Fighting Words: How to Humiliate -- and Convert -- a Right-Winger

By John Dolan, AlterNet. Posted March 25, 2008.

Drop the condescending "populist" talk and get mean.


"....And please, don't tell me you're above such gross playground
considerations. The American people are the beneficiaries of centuries
of serious Leftist violence, starting with the American Revolution and
climaxing in the Civil War. Without brave Leftist warriors
slaughtering British and Confederate soldiers in large numbers, the
whole tradition of American liberalism would not exist......"

I'd like to suggest a very simple strategy for American liberals: Get
mean. Stop policing the language and start using it to hurt our
enemies. American liberals are so busy purging their speech of any
words that might offend anyone that they have no notion of using
language to cause some salutary pain.

Why, for example, not popularize slogans that mock the Bush loyalists
as "suckers"? Something like, "There are two kinds of Republicans:
millionaires and suckers." Put that on a few bumper stickers and I
guarantee a lot of "South Park Republicans" will quit the GOP. They
just smirk when you tsk-tsk at them for being disrespectful. They want
to be disrespectful; every normal young male wants to be.

And this, of course, brings up a big issue: At some point liberal
writers are going to have to decide if it's OK to be young and male at
all. For better or for worse, millions of American men hold on to
playground ethics long after they leave elementary school. For most of
them, the 2004 election came down to a classic playground scene: Would
John Kerry defend himself when attacked by bullies? Liberals, still
stunned by the way a legitimate combat vet like Kerry was beaten by a
combat-dodging spoiled brat like Bush, never understood that for
millions of voters, the question wasn't how well Kerry fought in
Vietnam but whether he would fight in 2004.

Would he defend himself when called out by the gang of disgusting
bullies Bush had gathered around himself? It would have been so
simple, so glorious, if he'd just turned on his accusers and reacted
like a human being: "You're questioning my record on behalf of a skunk
like Bush who spent the war with the Alabama National Guard, and then
went AWOL from the Guard?"

Millions of American voters were waiting, hoping Kerry would react
like any sane person would have. He never did. I don't know why not; I
assume he was in the hands of some Clinton gurus who babbled about
"rising above the fray." Well, that sure worked well.

And please, don't tell me you're above such gross playground
considerations. The American people are the beneficiaries of centuries
of serious Leftist violence, starting with the American Revolution and
climaxing in the Civil War. Without brave Leftist warriors
slaughtering British and Confederate soldiers in large numbers, the
whole tradition of American liberalism would not exist.

And we are the sufferers from the most disastrous wimp-out in recent
American history: Carter's debacle in response to the taking of
American hostages in Iran in 1979. That refusal to use punitive force
to free his country's diplomats may have made pacifists feel nice, but
it was an expensive treat; it got Reagan elected, showed a host of
evil right-wing PR staffers that all they had to do was talk tough to
win, and convinced a huge number of disgusted American male voters
that the liberals would not fight back.

Kerry could have turned that around in 2004; it was almost as if a
Hollywood scriptwriter had arranged the perfect confrontation, in
which the liberal champion could flatten his orc-like tormentors and
show the voters that one can be a progressive without being a wimp.
Instead, he confirmed a prevalent myth that liberals are "soft" on
terrorism and the military -- in other words, like illustrator Gary
Larson's Wimpodites: "Though skilled with their pillow arsenal, the
Wimpodites were frequent targets of Viking attacks."

And so far, the liberal response, the liberal attempt to reach out to
the guys in the big trucks is embarrassing "populist" essays using bad
imitations of American slang. Let's be blunt here: "populism" is
condescension. If you want male voters' respect, stop patronizing
them. (It just creeps them out.) Far better to insult them -- to their
face, in their face, telling them bluntly that the talk radio nonsense
they parrot is pure crap. They know that themselves. Half of what they
say is designed simply to reassure themselves and their friends that
they're not the same sort of wimps their social studies teachers tried
to make them into. So they're not afraid of being called cruel or
insensitive; they're afraid of being suckers.

The minute we start calling them on their suckerdom, they'll change
sides -- and we'll finally have some decent troops on our side. But as
long as liberals speak in the language of Beavis and Butthead's Mister
van Driessen, they'll despise you, even when they know you're right
(which they do). We may not be the most systematically intellectual
tribe on earth, but Americans are very verbally sensitive. They will
not heed Mister van Driessen, even if he's telling them to evacuate a
burning classroom. They'd sooner die. You may find this irrational,
but when I think back to the progressive mindset I became familiar
with UC Berkeley, I understand this reaction very well. I don't
condone it, but damn! I sure do understand it.

Liberals aren't generally perceived as fighting the robber barons --
they appear as a secular clergy far more obsessed with cleaning up our
gloriously obscene language than fighting back.

Note that I've used the word "fighting." Americans are a violent
people -- and I mean that as a compliment. We are a magnificently
violent people who value courage above all else. In this, the ordinary
American is in total agreement with George Patton, John Paul Jones and
John Brown. They were all violent leaders, who sent a lot of Redcoats,
Nazis and secessionist slaveholders to an early grave. I consider that
glorious; so do most Americans.

John Paul Jones said, "I intend to go in harm's way" and coined a
boast that generations of Americans, and even Bugs Bunny himself,
repeated with pride: "I have not yet begun to fight." John Brown
killed and died to provoke a final conflict over slavery. When
American liberals can appreciate, encourage and manipulate the
violence of such people, maybe you can talk to your fellow Americans
again.

A good first step would be accepting the fact that language is a
weapon -- and then start using it effectively. Most liberals affect
scorn for mere words, in the way that I affected scorn for mathematics
after flunking algebra twice in high schools. And most of the hardcore
academic progressives I've known have tin ears. Their sheer awfulness
is adaptive within the academic ghetto, in the way that a lack of any
olfactory ability is adaptive for carrion eaters; but it's disastrous
when they try to talk to people outside their guild.

It's not really that hard, after all. Just stop trying to be
"populists," because frankly when liberals start talking about
"populism," they sound like North Korean infiltrators trying to pose
as surfer dudes. Try smacking your South Park countrymen in their
deluded heads with some bumper stickers of our own, just as down and
dirty as theirs. Wanna get them out of their gas-guzzling Dodge
extended-cab semis? Stop whining at them and try putting these four
little words on the back bumper of your hybrid: "Big truck, small
dick." Yeah, you might get yelled at at a stoplight; you might even
get hit. You might even consider hitting back.

Liberals have always been good fighters, once they get going.
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always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values  

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