the day: “Every group has its code words. These words serve an important social function—they enable the members of the group to deliver a harsh judgment on others without accountability.” (Deal Hudson)
Posted by Jim Kalb at September 17, 2002 10:16 AM | Send
Code words are the hobby-horse of leftist paranoids. One can make believe that innocent phrases are secretly a call to totalitarian violence. That said, society requires the implicit acceptance of core beliefs that are not necessarily stated in public.
But there *are* code words. The particular one Hudson had in mind was “divisive” as used by Catholic hierarchs as a way of avoiding dealing with complaints that avoidance of church doctrine on sex was an important cause of the current scandals. It’s a wonderfully useful word for them. Your problem may be that “code word” has itself become a set expression that enables liberals to avoid dealing with a whole range of persons and positions—in short, a code word.
The reason I posted the quote, by the way, is that it seemed to sum up the function of code words rather neatly. When a liberal says something is “extreme” it’s a way of saying he doesn’t have to deal with something and in fact shouldn’t because dealing with it squarely would lend it legitimacy. He gets to say that something is unspeakably bad without having to explain himself.
This is the ad hominem logical fallacy. Of course, many liberal beliefs are defended in such a way. X idea is so obvious that only an insensitive hatemonger would disagree.
What bothers me is that conservatives fall for the civility trap. They are so desparate to be liked by others that they studiously avoid anything that would spark the wrong sort of criticism.
People would rather spout doubletalk and nonsense than be called racist, sexist or homophobic. Thus they help enforce the political correctness that they supposedly oppose. And this is one reason why neocons dominate the American Right, because they are housebroken from the start.
Ah, but civility is necessary for a stable and just social order. Its not just to be liked its the very nature of a traditional conservative. Seeming crude in tactics or in speech—or simply lacking polish—is anathema. Tradcons will make their feelings known in generally the appropriate place at an appropriate time. Neocons are simply a variety of liberals and left that is arguing within and from a position seemingly without the liberals and left about the direction things should go. It seems to me that the majority of people that agree with many of the posters and writers here either lack tact and are hence ignored or are trying to wait this period out. Street level activism really isn’t the style of paleos—no one likes fascism (reactionary populism). As such they are being completely outflanked. The odd and somewhat confusing activities of the few nationally known tradcons make them hard to like or even to vote for. Not many people want to back a loser or a deviant (as defined by the times) if they can help it.