Particular terms tend to be like currencies. They have power insomuch as they are vehicles for meaning, are tools for construction, or weapons to inflict a type of damage. However, those who use the terms or the currencies have a sort of collective power they wield that reshapes the currency itself or the term itself. Cars and trucks were shaped by usage and adapted to the needs of the market. Tools evolve based on their application. Weapons grow more deadly in their role as we learn how to inflict greater damage.
Words are no different. Words become weaponized. Then, in strokes of brilliance, we invent ways to enhance them. Perhaps with a modification or new piece of technology. For example, you might invent a scope to add to a rifle to allow you to more frequently hit targets at distance.
If you’ve developed an accusation that has power within society, the logical next step to increase its effect is to develop a way to expand its impact. Note, then, the use of language like “enabler” or “sympathizer” or “apologist” when someone in communication attempts to link two figures. Note who is placed beside who. The writer is launching a missle, and has designed that missle to have a larger splash effect to hit both targets.
A quick search for “racist enabler” on any news search yields plenty of examples. If you defend Trump on any issue, be ready to be connected to him. Be ready to be called a “Trump enabler.” Paul Ryan’s legacy will be destroyed by the left for being an “enabler” all the while his MAGA cred, which never had a substantial balance, will be shredded for being weak in the face of fire.
Aleksandr Solzhenisyn’s work The Gulag Archipelago he recounts how the slur “Kulak” was used in a genocide of sorts:
This wave [of persecution] was also distinct from all those which preceded it because no one fussed about with taking the head of the family first and then working out what to do with the rest of the family. On the contrary, in this wave they burned out whole nests, whole families, from the start; and they watched jealously to be sure that none of the children — fourteen, ten, even six years old — got away: to the last scrapings, all had to go down the same road, to the same common destruction. (This was the first such experiment — at least in modern history. It was subsequently repeated by Hitler with the Jews, and again by Stalin with nationalities which were disloyal to him or suspected by him.)
This wave included only pathetically few of those kulaks for whom it was named, in order to draw the wool over people’s eyes. In Russian a kulak is a miserly, dishonest rural trader who grows rich not by his own labor but through someone else’s, through usury and operating as a middleman. In every locality even before the Revolution such kulaks could be numbered on one’s fingers…
Neo-Nazis are a tiny fraction of the current population. The famous Neo-Nazi killer whose name need not be mentioned targeted a black church in South Carolina and complained at how much trouble he had in finding other Neo-Nazis.
Sometimes this labeling begins to fail – after all, overuse of a term dulls ears to the significance of the word, and so you have to develop new tactics to keep things fresh. You can only inflate the “racist” accusation so far before you start calling people racists on the basis of their clothing choices or other such nonsense.
Term inflation was a problem back in Solzhenisyn’s day, too:
But the inflation of this scathing term kulak proceeded relentlessly, and by 1930 all strong peasants in general were being so called — all peasants strong in management, strong in work, or even strong merely in convictions. The term kulak was used to smash the strength of the peasantry. Let us remember, let us open our eyes: only a dozen years had passed since the great Decree on the Land — that very decree without which the peasants would have refused to follow the Bolsheviks and without which the October Revolution would have failed.
The true activist is undeterred, however, and does not hesitate to regularly call others Nazis, racist, “cultural appropriators,” misogynist, bigoted; sometimes all at once. Perhaps they’ve taken the “throw the spaghetti against the wall and see how much sticks” approach. Anyhow, eventually the term might run out of use, so the true activist continues unabated:
Beyond this, in every village there were people who in one way or another had personally gotten in the way of the local activists. This was the perfect time to settle accounts with them of jealousy, envy, insult. A new word was needed for all these new victims as a class — and it was born. By this time it had no “social” or “economic” content whatsoever, but it had a marvelous sound: podkulachnik — “a person aiding the kulaks. ” In other words, I consider you an accomplice of the enemy. And that finishes you! The most tattered landless laborer in the countryside could quite easily be labeled a podkulachnik.
Aha! You may not be a cloak-wearing, goose-stepping Nazi, but you aid them. I have found you out, and you will be given the exact same treatment. You may not lynch people, enslave people, or yourself discriminate against “people of color,” but you certainly support institutional racism, which means if you “benefit” from the system (defined solely as being white), and you do not disavow that system wholeheartedly according to my standards, congratulations. You are a neo-Nazi racist bigoted blah blah blah.
So Mike Pence, you may not electrocute gays or send them to concentration camps, but the fact that you consider their lifestyle sinful means you’re just as bad as the people who execute them.
Islamic extremists kill LGBT people.
Christian and Jewish extremists just drive us to commit suicide.
Either way, #HateIsHate.
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) June 13, 2016
You’re just a filthy Kulak all the same. Maybe you hateful Christians shouldn’t even be eligible for public office. Or maybe your beliefs should be ridiculed in chamber. No, maybe just having a religious belief test for public office is appropriate.
Certainly, right-wing media uses the same maneuver at times. It’s difficult to consider Obama a “socialist” much more than Bush 43 or Hillary, and there was no shortage of outrage cycle material streaming from right-wing sites during his administration. Politics is a war of words and procedures and laws, rather than by outright violence, and in war creative deception will occur.
But honest people must decipher and admit deceptions; many have mused that the ultimate problem with totalitarian states is that lies become reinforced so much that to admit the deception openly becomes a death sentence. Right now, the left is far more guilty of abusing language to destroy good people.
After all, Mike Pence would have done what a previous Democrat has already done, right? Put people in concentration camps?
The use of humor as an anesthetic for persistent needle injections of false claims into circulation is another deceptive tactic that will have to wait for another day, which is a maneuver the left has a near monopoly on.