I’ve written often about the subversion of everyday language in the name of progressive causes. Progressives, for those who are unclear, are those people and institutions that purport to speak in behalf of the putatively oppressed, whether women, minorities, the poor, homosexuals, etc. For a less nuanced view, we might call them liberal Democrats. When progressives take common terms and turn them to their own use, their meanings are inverted, or, indeed, perverted. Once these terms–which in our older lexicon were always good, stout substantives–begin to be used in new ways, they eventually become normalized according to their new usage.
Capturing and altering language is a critical step in consolidating the power to control others. Our language is already being corrupted. We all see it happening, even if we don’t know exactly what it means. Let’s look at five words that illustrate how this is happening.
The word “diversity,” for instance, has changed from comprising a range of types to preference of a particular type that excludes other types as illegitimate. This has most often involved racial minorities. It is now widely recognized that “diversity” is a word that denotes, and a method that enforces, a specific political orthodoxy rather than allowing differences of opinion.
“Tolerance” as a common term has come to indicate mandatory non-judgmentalism, whereas before it connoted one’s willingness to entertain opinions and behaviors with which one openly disagrees, or even finds repellant. Mandated “tolerance” is a cudgel often used to silence traditional Christians.
“Inclusiveness,” once a term that spoke of voluntarily accommodating views that were not normative to the person or entity extending the inclusion, now means laying aside one’s very right to exclude, an abdication effected through social sanction or legal compulsion. “Inclusive” has thus become, ironically, an exclusionary term, often used to describe only progressive ideas and sentiments.
University faculties regularly think of themselves as “inclusive” when a department of 60 liberal professors has admitted three members who are self-identified conservatives.
The term “social justice” has come to mean the imposition of elite expectations on unwilling subjects for the benefit of other, favored groups, rather than the volitional and discretional conduct of public policy by consensual, even-handed, humane standards. Social justice is the effort to take the fruits of one man’s labor and give it to someone else who did not work for it. Thus “social justice” is the essence of injustice, not distinct in kind (but only in degree) from earlier forms of slavery.
“Bullying” is another instance of twisting of language to suit progressive ends. We all know bullying is boys behaving badly, right? Well, not so fast. Among many of those now drumming the word into our collective awareness, bullying covers a much broader range of activities, including language, facial expressions, and gestures. The word has further specificity in that it is coming to refer to such behavior directed not towards others in general but towards homosexuals.
The word “bullying” has taken its place with “diversity,” “tolerance,” “inclusiveness,” and “social justice” as a code word encrypted with a specific political meaning. This encoded meaning is the one preferred by the elites that serve the racial, homosexual, class and gender industries.
It is important to note that it is not only the new usage of old words that is critical, but the frequency of usage of the words. Thus, you will now hear almost daily someone speaking as an authority on the subject of bullying. This continuous repetition of old, nearly-forgotten moral words is the first tip-off that some kind of change is happening. This seems currently to be taking place with the word “dignity.” Keep an eye on that one.
Radicals know that when an old word is increasingly used in a new way, the new definition will soon become the primary definition. At first, old and new definitions of a single term are mingled. But a mental process sets in. A subtle psychological shift takes place as people repeatedly hear a word they thought they were familiar with, but which is now being used in contexts and in ways they had not thought of. The human psyche comes to equate the more recent with the more relevant. And soon the new meaning usurps the place of the old. We have seen this at work with such words as “gay,” “straight,” “gender,” and “sex.”
This turning of words on their heads is a tactic of all totalitarian regimes. In his novel “1984,” George Orwell called the perversion of common terms blackwhite. “Like so many Newspeak words,” Orwell writes, “blackwhite has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.”
Christians have the responsibility to preserve the old meanings of words. It is important that believers not join secular bandwagons draped in the comfortable moral terms of our own tradition, if those terms are in the process of being perverted. To be a Christian is to develop the powers of discernment to know what is happening around oneself.