Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Aug 23-29, 2017

This edition highlights the Trump administration’s populist war on truth. Conviction has replaced persuasion in the art of political rhetoric. No truths are any more self-evident. Information is no longer neutral, but is either for you or against you. Pop truths–that Sheriff Joe was just doing his job, removing Confederate statues is an attempt to erase white heritage, hatred and bigotry only exist on the alt Left, etc.–have more staying power than facts or truths. Yet who knew that the most-fact, post-truth culture would be populist? Populism always offers a cure worse than the disease. When truth becomes inherently political, how far are we from an Orwellian state?

just doing his job

rhetorical claim: Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted for just doing his job of protecting real Americans from illegal immigrant criminals and rapists.

rhetorical effect: In pure Roveian fashion, language is used to turn reality inside out: Arpaio was convicted for actually NOT doing his job, which is following the rule of law.


great American patriot

rhetorical claim: Sheriff Joe is a great American patriot.

rhetorical effect: as explained by the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, this version of patriotism

includes extreme ethnic profiling, terror raids, and cruel and unusual punishment. A definition of patriotism that covers using internment camps in extreme heat, parading women and juvenile offenders for the cameras in chain gangs, and degrading inmates in creative acts of bullying. This is not patriotism; it is the abuse of power in the cause of bigotry…

Arpaio made a career of dehumanizing prisoners in his charge. His pardon sends the signal that some people are less than human. In one sense, this is perfectly consistent. Trump has employed dehumanization as a political tool from the start — of refugees, of migrants, of Muslims. By his pardon of Arpaio, he has metaphorically pardoned his own cruel and divisive approach to politics. It is a further step in Trump’s normalization and entrenchment of bigotry in our public life.


our history and our heritage

rhetorical claim: Opposition to President Trump is now taking the form of threats to obliterate our history and our heritage by removing statues of Confederate generals. Marxist true-believers understand that the transformation of any nation begins by systematically altering its history and obliterating its culture.  As the sanctioned march by the so-called “Alt Right” in Charlottesville was ostensibly to protest the potential removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the pretext was in place for the left-wing locusts to swarm and openly declare war on American history, symbols and institutions.   It was not just the fringe elements of the Left but many Democratic Party leaders and media figures taking up the cause.

rhetorical effect: promulgates an authoritarian version of national history in which “our” refers only to whites, whose manifest destiny is to rule America. Anything that has happened to non-whites (such as slavery) is whitewashed from this history. Thus Trump spends far more time criticizing journalists than white supremacists. Anyone who calls themselves neutral on any given issue is in collusion with the progressives.


angry toddlers

rhetorical claim: Trump’s supporters are the adults in the room, as compared to anti-Trump protestors, the angry toddlers in the room. Like toddlers, they are only absorbed in their own needs, cry until they get their way. As explained in The American Thinker,

They decline mental exercises that require objectivity, reason, and actual morality, because these do not bring the desired result, which is their presumed moral primacy over those their handlers seek to dominate and control, not to mention the wealth and property of those targets.  These people are not the most dangerous among us, but they run a close second because of their utter inability to process basic information and come up with a correct answer.  The most dangerous are those who manipulate such people to steal what they want while pretending to be making things better.

They are committed to eradicating the Bill of Rights for its protection of those they hate, those against whom they are deeply bigoted, those whose declared right to refuse to be owned by tyrants is the single biggest obstacle to their victory.  They have decided for themselves that violence, but only their violence, is acceptable, because their motives are so “moral.”  Their “morality” encourages violence to achieve peace, which is akin to encouraging rape to achieve virginity.  Such is the intellectual depth of the tools being manipulated by a communist movement to destroy capitalism and, with it, their own individual freedom.

rhetorical effect: this paranoid vision of anarcho-Communists not only conjures up the cold war, but sounds like a call to arms to defend America before it’s too late. It also substitutes the concept of “mobocracy” for the exercise of democracy. It also doubles as a pre-emptive charge of treason.


the mainstream media

rhetorical claim: The MSM is like the standard government propaganda machine found in all fascist states. Those organizations’ job is not to provide facts to enable the people to exercise their power through the ballot box but to help maintain the oppression of the people by the ruling elite. Whether it’s the media in North Korea telling the people how much better their lives are than the poor fools in South Korea, the media in the Soviet Union telling the people how great their lives are, the media in China explaining why forced abortions are a good thing, or the MSM saying that someone who once had lunch with Trump also talked to a Russian and that’s treason the song remains the same; the party we support is good, you should listen to what your betters tell you to do, don’t try and resist the establishment.

rhetorical effect: undermines the legitimacy of a free press by calling any anti-Trump claims mere “propaganda.”


hatred and bigotry

rhetorical claim: Remember what the left means when it says there are not two sides to hate and bigotry.  Leftists are actually saying it is hate and bigotry to resist them.  It is hate and bigotry to wish freedom for yourself and your children, to demand to keep what you earn, to live your life peacefully, and to reject totalitarianism.  It is hate and bigotry to live in white skin and not believe that it should determine one’s future any more than dark skin should, to refuse to be owned by those whose every word and deed is itself motivated by hatred and bigotry against us.  To them, refusal to accept the place in society they have reserved for us is the epitome of hate and bigotry.

rhetorical effect: projects the alt-Right’s hatred and bigotry onto the anti-Trump forces, thus both absolving themselves of any taint of hatred and bigotry, but also turning the Left into the bigots and tyrants.



rhetorical claim: to the Left, bring “presidential” means being acceptable to coastal and foreign elites.

rhetorical effect: lowers the bar for qualifying as “presidential” to the mere occasional display of decency, compromise, consistency, and rationality



rhetorical claim: The Southern Poverty Law Center is unfairly branding anyone who disagrees with them a “hate group.” As explained by Kimberly Strassel in The Wall Street Journal:

The press is still obsessing over President Trump’s incompetent handling of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and that has suited some profiteers just fine. The notorious Southern Poverty Law Center is quietly cashing in on the tragedy, raking in millions on its spun-up reputation as a group that “fights hate.” Apple CEO Tim Cook informed employees that his company is giving $1 million to SPLC and matching employee donations. J.P. Morgan Chase is pitching in $500,000, specifically to further the SPLC’s “work in tracking, exposing and fighting hate groups and other extremist organizations,” in the words of Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.

What Mr. Scher is referring to is the SPLC’s “Hate Map,” its online list of 917 American “hate groups.” The SPLC alone decides who goes on the list, but its criteria are purposely vague. Since the SPLC is a far-left activist group, the map comes down to this: If the SPLC doesn’t agree with your views, it tags you as a hater.

rhetorical effect: In pure Karl Rove and Frank Lunz fashion, the fright quotes not only subvert the terms they bracket, but actually make them mean their opposite. So, for example, groups that fight hate become hate groups; “tolerance education” becomes intolerance; “white nationalists” become defenders of American liberty, and the SPLC becomes simply “notorious.”  This opprobrium undermines any of their policies or positions.



rhetorical claim: Donald Trump is a true populist, the voice of the people. The silent majority is no longer silent.

rhetorical effect: equates populism with democracy and pluralism, though it isn’t necessarily composed of either. Populists–with their “my way or the highway” mentality– actually despise pluralism and don’t mind bending the rules of democracy. Without pluralism, democracy loses its foundation.



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