Monday, March 9, 2015

The Most Overused Word On Social Media

     Social media has many ills, but one of the positive effects it has had in my life is connecting me to the often times unvarnished opinions of those who claim the sacred ground of the constitution as I do. Some I have met through social media actually promote unconstitutional means to "save" the constitution. Somewhat analogous to when George W. Bush said he had to "abandon free market principles in order to save the free market" during the financial crisis of 2008. Similar in theory to our former president, the extreme Right-Wingers I have met on social media wish to engage in an armed coup against the current president.
     Their purposed actions are based on what they say is blatant evidence that Barack Obama is a traitor. The dictionary definition of traitor is "one who betrays a friend or his country." The definition of betray is "one who treacherously shares his country's information with its enemies." Barack Obama has no doubt been the worst president this nation has seen in modern times. He also has authoritarian tendencies, which motivates him to expand the constitutional authority of his office beyond the bounds of that document's good graces.
     But that word traitor means something specific, and it characterizes a very profound form of treachery. Unfortunately I have witnessed the devaluing of that word by its overuse and over application to everyone who does not share the politically puritanical constraints of the person applying the term. It has been applied to Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority McConnell, two men for whom I have lost respect as a result of their jelly spines, but hardly traitors in any responsible application of that word.
     One of the most insidious outcomes of the Obama presidency, whether it was planned or not, is not only the political divide between Right and Left, but the divide between Right and Right. Mr. Obama has cleverly provoked a segment of the Right to extremism, and has been successful in convicting the entire Right based on the opinions of these "extremists." It has been the misuse of words like traitor, applied to President Obama, et al that has lent credibility to the Lefts claims of extremism against the Right.
     Barry Goldwater, one of the fathers of modern day conservatism, once said that, "Extremism in defense of Liberty is not a vice." But where the extremists on the Right in Senator Goldwater's day were motivated by conservative principles, the modern extremists on the Right are perceived as being motivated by hatred. That is not to say they have abandon conservative principles, only that peppering their political rhetoric with extreme words like traitor, makes them seem to be extreme. Words matter in defining ideas. If one wishes to define conservatism, one must abandon the emotional urge to characterize its opposition with meaningful words that have been mangled into invective for the sake of effect.

No comments:

Post a Comment