I write a bi-weekly column for the Miami Herald on politics. That means every other Thursday, my in-box fills up with the same letter, written by different authors.
I’ve become accustomed to the tone and verbiage. Often there are ALL CAPS denoting significant rage. Other times the writers stick to sentence case. But no matter what topic I write about — Gov. Rick Scott’s latest foolishness, an upcoming or just completed election, the latest insanity in Washington, President Obama or the tea party movement itself; certain features remain the same. Every letter from a right winger invariably contains a few talk radio-produced code words and phrases. If you write or tweet or read much about politics, you’ll recognize them all:
- References to Marxism, communism or socialism, and sometimes all three
- George Soros (he makes it into literally every right wing comment)
- Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (just behind Soros in frequency, especially Ms. Pelosi)
- The wickedness of unions or the phrase “union thugs”
- Disparaging references to one or more of the three government agencies the right most wants eliminated: the State Department, Department of Education and the EPA
- Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who together, in the right’s minds, caused the 2007 crash
- Allusions to liberals being stupid (“MORON” in all caps is particularly popular) and thus unable to see the “truth” (this appears to be an attempt at turnabout, based on conservatives’ ongoing anger at being labeled “dumb” by the left.)
- Accusations of fake journalism, including frequent use of the term “Journo-Lister”
- “We The People” (very popular in tea party parlance, and on Twitter, often is accompanied by a Colonial avatar)
- Demands that the federal government “stop spending” (though presumably not on the writers’ Medicare checks)
- References to Muslims or President Obama supposedly being a Muslim
- Allusions to Democrats, President Obama and other opponents being un-American, not being “real Americans” or hating America
- And especially, cries of liberal bias (apparently the writer’s fail to grasp the meaning of “op-ed”), based on the failure to include the above right wing buzzwords and talking points in the column or post, and often, racially or politically biased statements of the writer’s own, in response to that perceived “bias.”
As an example, below, unedited — except that I bolded the code words and as a courtesy, am withholding the author’s full name — is a classic riff from a right wing commentator, in this case, attacking my most recent Herald column. Pretty much the same verbiage can be found in response to my TRR blog posts and on my Twitter feed, whenever tea party adherents make their way there. The code words are the same regardless of the venue. (The misspellings, like “to” instead of “too” are the writer’s, too.)
I have read your ridiculous article in the Herald entitled “Deal angers progressives, tea party”, in the Herald. Only a trash publication like the Herald or other lefty publications would print such nonsense. The dangers of such articles only fit into the new form of so-called journalism. That is only print parts of news that fit your own idealistic outlook, and leave out most of the truth. I notice no mention of the millions spent by George Soros to poison the American public. I find no notice of the Unions who take millions from hard working people to increase their individual power and do nothing for their workers. I find no mention of the corrupt Acorn organization who has received millions. How long do you think this country can go on spending money we do not have. I find nno mention of the trillions that have been spent in the last two years that have done nothing.
If you want cuts in spending how about the $770 million being spent by a U.S. State Dept aid program to refurbish and add internet services to Mosques in the Middle East. You will not find this information in the Herald, Times or Washington Post. How about the waste in the U.S Dept. of Education that squanders billions to help Unions? How about Pelosi and the Health Care bill. Remember she said, “ you do don’t have to know what is in it just vote for it”. How about the bribes for votes for the Health Care bill? How about wanting to spend billions on a railroad in Florida that every study showed it would be a failure and end up costing the taxpayers millions. I guess you have not heard that now the facts are out and it was Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Andrew Cuomo who destroyed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Again this information not available to you as it did not appear in the Times, Herald or the Post. You know those publications are not allowed to publish anything that would be harmful to the Democratic Party or Imam Obama.
I think enough said as I do not know your attention span and maybe the enclosed information is to much for you to understand.
The Democrats will do and say anything for votes. Lies, twisting facts are the mainstay of their party. For 2012 the only question is how much will the Democrats be willing to pay for the Latin vote and the Black vote. The 2012 election will not be about facts, truths or what is good for the country but how much money can be spent. Remember Imam Obama is having another birthday party in New York and the cost to get in is $71,000 a couple. If you want a picture with the Imam it is $75,000. Who will be paying for his trip to New York?
Miami Beach, Florida
Just to show you how consistent these things are, here are three more examples. They are responses to my July 6 column on the plutocrats of the right:
Dear Ms. Reid,
I read your column today with interest. I wonder if “Plutocrat” and “Plutocracy” are words you remember from college and finally got a chance to use in print. Too bad you failed to grasp the meaning a true “plutocracy”. Since we, of course, have only one vote per person and since corporations have not yet been given the right to vote, we are obviously not a Plutocracy. However, it does serve to confuse those folks who are a bit less educated.
As a Democrat, I’m sure you’ve heard mention of George Soros, haven’t you. I understand that he’s the guy who spends a lot of money getting folks like you to write your one-sided opinion pieces. If you would have used the word “oligarchy” it probably would have been more meaningful. After all it’s the powerful Democrats and Republicans who seem to run the country and we, the lowly masses, just sit around to receive whatever crumbs may fall on the floor.
So as I see it, the Republicans have the Kochs and the Democrats have George Soros. So I guess we’ll just have to see who’s money speaks the loudest.
Thanks for your entertaining column this morning.
And one more, though I’m not giving this one the same identity-cloaking courtesy:
email@example.com to me
Fuck you communist trash. Guarantee you like that fucking faggot soros and him financing commie govs pushing their bullshit but the evil Koch brothers oh no, you fucking pussy hypocrite. At least the Koch’s are american unlike that faggot french fuck who turned in jews to save his own ass. These govs are saving these states from commie trash and christ was no republican butbuddy with ofucka. Gonna laugh when Perry kicks comrade chairman ayatollah obama’s ass.
Those are just some of the emails. Here’s a comment under that same July 6 column:
[Comment from] FIUFan
Maybe they’re trying to stop the communist tendencies of all the liberals and anarchists….hmmm. If you’d have it your way, we’d all work for the government, in a job we could never lose and be taken care of from cradle to grave [I just threw-up a little in my mouth thinking about that].
Sorry, but greatness doesn’t work that way….and the only reason some countries are catching up is because of huge populations and the theft of our intellectual property rights.
Guess what, the inovation of the Internet (or a free press for that matter) doesn’t happen in China or Cuba or the old U.S.S.R. Stop biting the hand that feeds you, large, centralized governments are soul-sapping leeches.
07/07/2011 09:04 AM
Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t a few well-worn phrases in use by liberals (a particularly popular one among the emo crowd is “fight!” — a blanket cure-all for President Obama’s travails with the tea party-hostage Congress.) But it amazes me how consistent and how durable the catch phrases on the right are — and how powerfully ingrained they have become among rank and file conservatives.
Liberals seem to by and large resist that kind of herding, perhaps because the left lacks the multi-platform media symmetry the right has, despite the constant cries of liberal media bias. There is no left wing talk radio, the top liberal blogs are much farther to the left of Democratic, even liberal Democratic politicians and the liberal rank and file (note the sharp divergence between the approval ratings for President Obama, which are consistently high among self-described liberals, and the sometimes vociferously anti-Obama tone of the top liberal blogs) compared with right wing blogs, which perhaps because of the multi-platform symmetry, tend to be in very much in line with the GOP base.
Clearly, having the duplicative effect of talk radio, Fox News, Republican poltiicians and the right wing blogosphere, all using the catch phrases over and over again, works. And tying the buzzwords to very simple concepts: “stop spending,” “America is broke,” “progressives/liberals are communists”, “Muslims and immigrants are invading us,” “George Soros is the evil puppetmaster controlling all things…” has been devastatingly effective for the right. In fact, they’ve been so effective, some 87 people were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (and a couple in the Senate) completely programmed with the phrases, and the simplistic ideology that goes with them.
That’s what we’re facing, folks. There is an entire segment of the population whose entire understanding of history and economics boils down to a set of probably Frank Luntz focus-grouped, multi-platform media-repeated slogans. They think the slogans are real. They think the papered-over quickie-history and moralistic tropes ingrained in them are real (i.e., the founders intended the country to be ruled by Christian dogma… the civil war wasn’t about slavery… Americans were better off before the New Deal… unions are destructive and workers only appear to want collective bargaining because they’re being coerced by “thugs”… corporations and the rich are morally superior — they are the “productive class” and the “job creators” — and thus should not be taxed and need no regulation… in fact, the very ideas of taxation, regulation and collective bargaining are “communism” … government itself is bad — even evil, etc.) And they want to govern the country based on those tropes.
God help us if they succeed.